The Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund seeks to identify, embolden and empower new voices by finding innovative ways for diverse communities in Baltimore to write, design, produce, and distribute a wide array of audiovisual content, from narrative film to immersive media and beyond. We are looking for Baltimore-based innovators to write, develop, design and produce groundbreaking projects that will advance the art and craft of media in the 21st century.
You can apply as an individual or as a team of up to two people.
The applicant must be one of the central artistic forces behind the project.
(writer, director, producer)
You can submit up to two projects. Projects that were not successful in previous rounds can be resubmitted as long as they have been developed further in meaningful and thoughtful ways.
All projects must be able to be
produced in Baltimore.
All projects must be in the development stage. Documentaries with some footage are eligible for the Documentary Lab. Any other project that is ready for production, in the midst of production or in post-production is not eligible.
The applicant must be able to attend required events in Baltimore, MD.
The initial application to these programs is NOT a funding application. It is an application
for the SZIF Incubator,
Screenplay Lab, or
Only projects selected for the Incubator, Screenplay Lab or Documentary Lab will be eligible
to apply for grants from the Development & Production Fund.
The Screenplay Lab welcomes Fellows with feature-length scripts to have their work read and critiqued by renowned industry experts. The Lab takes place over four days and is divided into meetings, group screenings, Q&As and networking events. During private one-on-one meetings between Fellows and Lab Advisors, the Fellows receive detailed feedback on their screenplays.
Over the course of this four-day period, the Lab Fellows, with the guidance of their Advisors, target problem areas in their screenplays, search for new storytelling avenues to pursue and grow as writers for the screen.
The Screenplay Lab is looking for unproduced, feature-length scripts in draft form. All films must be able to be produced in Baltimore. All projects must be submitted by the writer of the project (teams of up to two people).
Please see the Guidelines page for additional requirements for all SZIF submissions. All feature-length screenplay drafts submitted will be considered for the Screenplay Lab.
The Screenplay Lab will take place in late April.
The Bold Voices, New Paradigms Incubator strives to bring together Baltimore filmmakers, artists and entrepreneurs with interesting ideas and help them create teams to further their projects.
The SZIF Incubator connects our selected Baltimore artists with veteran and groundbreaking filmmakers, executives and technologists from the industry across the United States and abroad.
Once a project has been accepted into the Incubator, an involved team-building process begins, as the SZIF works to pair each project with two top-level filmmaking talents in the form of mentor-mentee relationships. Over the past year, the SZIF has accumulated Mentors from all over the world: New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London, Mexico City and (of course) Baltimore.
As a part of the Incubator, SZIF Fellows will attend two Brain Trust Meetings, where special industry guests come together for a series of candid, in-depth discussions on current problems in audiovisual production. During these meetings, Fellows are provided the opportunity to brainstorm solutions to project-specific challenges.
Any audiovisual project in development that can be produced in Baltimore is eligible. In the past we’ve had virtual reality experiences, multimedia installations, experimental nonfiction shorts, fiction features at the treatment stage, web series, long episodic content, augmented reality platforms… and more.
The Incubator will begin in late May.
The Documentary Lab brings renowned and veteran artists to advise Fellows in a tightly-focused boot camp setting. Advisors study, discuss and challenge the Fellows’ works-in-progress, concepts and goals with critical and practical feedback, while offering master classes on specific aspects of the filmmaking craft.
During private one-on-one meetings between Fellows and Lab Advisors, the Fellows receive detailed feedback on their footage and discuss potential paths to production.
The Documentary Lab is looking for documentary projects that have already shot some footage but are still in development or early in the production process. Projects in post-production are not eligible. All films must be produced in Baltimore.
Please see the Guidelines page for additional requirements for all SZIF submissions.
The Documentary Lab will take place in early September.