The Power of Film to Drive Change: $25,000 Fellowship for Filmmakers

In 2014, under a starry Botswana sky, a baby elephant’s story began.

The elephant’s name is Naledi, and Vulcan Productions’ documentary “Naledi: A Baby Elephant’s Tale” shared her story with the world. The film inspired audiences to care not only about Naledi, but to understand the peril faced by thousands of elephants across Africa at a time when the Great Elephant Census reported a 30% decrease in their populations in just 10 years. Naledi is one of the many films, television specials, series, and digital content that Vulcan Productions develops, produces and supports, because we believe stories like these will help spark change.

553A0625-1-1024x576 Filmmakers sit in the Okavango during wet season as Naledi explores her new home with her human family.

The riveting stories of environmental and conservation issues must be told boldly by diverse voices, and must reach audiences who will walk away inspired to take action. In order to achieve this, Paul G. Allen and Vulcan Productions seek to support other storytellers dedicated to creating powerful art that will drive change and have a lasting impact on our common home.

The search for the next incredible documentary has brought the San Francisco Film Festival and Vulcan Productions together for the SFFILM & Vulcan Productions Environmental Fellowship; supporting documentary filmmakers telling stories about the environment and/or conservation. The Fellowship will offer a $25,000 grant, an adviser who is a content expert in the environmental topic being explored, and access to SFFILM’s dynamic suite of artist development services including an educational lesson plan. The selected Fellow will travel to San Francisco and Seattle to join in workshops and activities addressing filmmaking, the environment and building entertainment industry connections.

SFFILM and Vulcan Productions believe that filmmakers tackling stories about climate change and the environment need and deserve meaningful financial and creative support, particularly as the environment and science as a whole face new threats. The SFFILM & Vulcan Productions Environmental Fellowship is geared towards mid-career or established documentary filmmakers from across the United States who are addressing pressing environmental issues through strong, creative storytelling that is both unique and appealing to a large audience.

Diver-camera-CREDIT-OPS-1024x682 A filmmaker dives deep for the story below the surface. Photo courtesy of Oceanic Preservation Society.

Documentary films are proven to have an impact on the way people think, feel, and act. It is my hope that this Fellowship will give a new crop of creative, relentless filmmakers the opportunity to tell stories about the most critical issues of our time, and help audiences leave transformed from passive viewers into active participants ready to engage with the issues that affect us all.