How to Make it to Hollywood

February 21, 2013 Posted by The Law Firm for Non-Profits, P.C. in Fiscal sponsors, Fundraising, Grantmaking, IRS, News

The Academy Awards are announced this Sunday. Why is this mentioned on a 501(c)(3) law blog? Believe it or not, Oscars and nonprofits have something in common! Of course, many documentaries and shorts are produced by or with funding from nonprofits. But this year, the big prize could go to a feature film funded by a nonprofit.

Best Picture nominee Beasts of the Southern Wild was financed by Cinereach, a private foundation based in New York that supports feature films “at the intersection of engaging storytelling, visual artistry, and vital subject matter.”


Are you now asking yourself how a private foundation can fund a film? In fact, there is a long history (with IRS blessing) of nonprofit support for films and documentaries. As with Cinereach, nonprofits must ensure they support films that fall within the scope of their 501(c)(3) purposes.

Becoming a grantee of a nonprofit like Cinereach isn’t easy. Aside from being competitive (Cinereach received about 2,500 proposals for less than 20 grants last year), to become a grantee, a film must become a project of a fiscal sponsor, such as International Documentary Association andIndependent Filmmakers Project, or have individual 501(c)(3) status.

Now you will have something to talk about during the commercial breaks! And if you’re thinking of making a film or documentary with nonprofit funding, contact us for help. We have extensive experience in this “theatre” of work.

NOTE: The information contained herein is not intended to be legal advice and the reader should know that no Attorney-Client relationship or privilege is formed by the posting or reading of this article which is also not intended to solicit business.

Casey Summar, Partner, The Law Firm for Non-Profits, 4705 Laurel Canyon Blvd, #306, Studio City, CA 91607

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