Greenlight Grant Guidelines
Fiscal Year 2024 Program Guidelines
These program guidelines are subject to change after the publication date. Changes will be clearly noted on this page.
Updated as of March 15, 2023. Updates are clearly marked.
Greenlight Grants support entrepreneurial and collaborative Iowa filmmakers who are ready to produce a film and media project that can take them to the next level in their career and contribute to a more robust, diverse and sustainable creative ecosystem in Iowa.
Greenlight Grants are intended to provide Iowa filmmakers with a financial boost to launch a well-written script to screen and the opportunity to stretch creatively, think big and expand beyond their comfort zones. A goal of the program is that Iowans become the job creators that grow our film and television industry organically, as a whole.
Applications that can demonstrate an important story that needs to be told to a larger audience and show a significant return on investment with public funds will receive priority for funding.
The Greenlight Grant is administered by the Iowa Arts Council on behalf of Produce Iowa-State Office of Film and Media, both divisions of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. Funding is made possible by an annual appropriation from the Iowa Legislature and applicants must adhere to the funding policies of the Iowa Arts Council.
Potential applicants, especially first time applicants, are encouraged to review all published material and contact Arts, Film, and Media Coordinator EJ Philby Burton at email@example.com with questions well in advance of application deadlines.
The Iowa Arts Council is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to eligible applicants. For application support, please contact the Accessibility Coordinator Lindsay Keast at 515-281-8352 or firstname.lastname@example.org at least two weeks in advance of application deadlines.
Fiscal Year 2024 Application Deadline
May 1, 2023 at 11:59 PM for the funding period of July 1, 2023-June 30, 2025.
Typically, applicants are notified of funding decisions within eight weeks after the application deadline.
Progress Report Deadline
Grant recipients are required to complete a one year progress report by August 1, 2024, unless the project has already concluded and the final report has been turned in.
Final Report Deadline
Grant recipients are required to complete a final report by August 1, 2025.
Eligible Use of Funds
Grant funds must be used for direct expenses related to the production and post-production of a film or digital media project. Funding may be used only for goods and services acquired through vendors located in Iowa.* Project activities may occur before or after the funding period; however, the grant funds can support expenses and activities that occur only within the funding period. Funded projects must place Produce Iowa-State Office of Film and Media and Iowa Arts Council logos in credits on screen, as well as a suggested “Produced in Iowa” graphic.
*Applicants may request an expense exemption for consideration by the department for certain expenses that are not available in Iowa. The department reserves the right to approve or deny any requests at their discretion.
Applicants may request funding for eligible one-time project expenses that are incurred and expended within the eligible funding period. The department reserves the right to adjust funding levels based on the quality of submitted applications and available funding.
- Minimum Grant Request: $10,000
- Maximum Grant Request: $50,000
Applicants are required to demonstrate investment in a project by providing 50% cash matching funds to the grant request for project expenses. For example, an applicant that requests $10,000 in grant funds must have at least $5,000 in cash match for a minimum total project budget of $15,000.
Funding Disbursement and Reporting
Grant funds will be administered directly to an individual, not to a for-profit entity, in one lump sum at the start of the funding period. Grant recipients will be required to demonstrate the grant funds and cash match have been spent by providing documentation of expenditures and proof of purchase from Iowa vendors, if applicable, as well as to disclose any other expenses and in-kind donations to the project on final report forms provided by the department. Payments to crew, vendors or service providers must be made within 30 days of receipt of invoices. The grant recipient is responsible for securing any additional funds needed to cash flow the project appropriately.
Failure to demonstrate that the grant recipient has completed the project to the satisfaction of the State of Iowa will result in the requirement to repay the grant funds to the State of Iowa within 30 days of the end of the funding period.
Eligible applicants must meet all of the following requirements. Individuals who do not meet these requirements are not eligible to apply.
- Individual filmmaker
- If awarded funding, the individual filmmaker will be legally and financially responsible for the grant award and meeting contract requirements
- Current, full-time Iowa resident with permanent address in Iowa
- Legal Iowa resident as defined by Iowa Code 422.4 and Iowa Administrative Code 701.38.17 (422)
- 18 years of age or older
- An application must support a project that is initiated, produced, and/or managed by the individual filmmaker, not another entity or organization
- Maintain current registration in the Produce Iowa-State Office of Film and Media Production Directory
Ineligible applicants include the following types of entities:
- For-profit corporation or business
- Federally tax exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit organization
- Public and private school that serves grades pre-K through 12
- Nonprofit institution of higher education
- Unit of local, county or federally-recognized tribal government
- Artist groups, collaboratives and collectives
Eligible projects include the production and post-production of an original film or digital media project within the state of Iowa. Applicants may request funding to support a specific phase of a larger project within the funding period but are encouraged to resource the phase and overall project appropriately. Applicants may only receive support from Iowa Arts Council once in the lifetime of the project and are, therefore, encouraged to apply at the appropriate time when state funding will be most impactful.
Funds must be used for one-time production expenses for goods and services provided by businesses located in Iowa. Examples of eligible project activities include:
- Set Construction
- Location Scouting
- Picture Editing
- Sound Engineering
- Musical Scoring
- Sound/Visual Effects
Eligible Genres of Projects
The following genres of film or digital media productions are eligible.
Eligible Types of Projects
The following types of film or digital media productions are eligible.
- Feature including sequels
- Web Series
- Episodic including pilot episodes or new seasons
- Sizzle Reel
Projects that fall outside of the identified types of eligible projects may not request funding through this grant program. Ineligible projects also include the following types of activities and projects.
- Award Shows
- Domestic travel-dominant projects that primarily benefit the applicant
- Projects that involve domestic travel outside of Iowa must clearly demonstrate how the activities benefit Iowans and the arts community in Iowa
- Productions with news, talk shows, religious, political, instructional, corporate or obscene content
- Projects that result in an applicant’s course credit, degree or certification
- Project submitted by an individual that is initiated, managed by, or that benefit an entity or organization with which the individual applicant has a formal affiliation such as employment or volunteer service
- Separate phases of a project that has already received a grant from the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs
- Sequels or new seasons of episodic productions are considered eligible, distinct projects
- Project activities may occur before or after the funding period; however, the grant funds and required match can only support expenses and activities that occur within the funding period.
Eligible Grant Request Expenses
Greenlight Grants support one-time, direct project expenses that are essential to the completion of the proposed project. The grant request must be dedicated to eligible one-time, direct project expenses, legitimate parts of the proposed project, and must be incurred and expended within the eligible funding period. Applicants will be required to identify any other anticipated cash expenses and in-kind contributions beyond the grant request in the project budget as well as the anticipated revenue sources that will cover them. Expenses identified in the grant budget should be based on competitive, current market pricing. All grant request expenses must be acquired through Iowa vendors unless otherwise approved by the department.
Eligible grant request expenses include direct project costs for goods and services such as:
- Access Accommodations (e.g., audio description, sign-language interpretation, closed or open captioning, large-print brochures/labeling)
- Crew/Labor (e.g. director, cinematographer, grip, talent, production assistant)
- Domestic Travel (e.g. mileage, accommodation, per diem)
- Marketing (e.g. graphic design, ad buys, web design, publicist)
- Materials (e.g. paint, costumes, props)
- Personnel Time Dedicated to the Project* (e.g. planning, execution, evaluation time)
- Production Rentals (e.g. camera, lighting, sound, props, tents, scissor lift, trucks, portable restrooms, generators)
- Professional Services (e.g. insurance, legal, accounting, payroll)
- Support Services (e.g. sanitation, construction, security, dry cleaning, florist, craft services)
*The applicant must demonstrate how personnel time is specifically dedicated to the proposed project. Personnel benefits are not eligible.
Ineligible Grant Request Expenses
Expenses that fall outside of the identified eligible expenses for the project may not be included as part of the grant request. Applicants that include ineligible expenses in the grant request will be considered ineligible.
Ineligible grant request and match expenses include:
- Budget shortfalls
- Capital expenditures
- Collection maintenance or restoration expenses
- Deficit or debt reduction
- Equipment purchases
- Expenses incurred prior to or after the funding period
- Foreign travel (grant request expenses only) [edited March 15, 2023]
- Fundraising or benefit activities
- Goods or services acquired through vendors located outside of Iowa not approved by the department (grant request expenses only) [edited March 15, 2023]
- Lobbying activity
- Ongoing or operating expenses including utilities, rent/lease, office supplies, personnel time that is not specifically dedicated to the project
- Personnel benefits
- Pre-production activities
- Prizes and awards
- Property maintenance, restoration or renovation
Applicants are required to demonstrate investment in a project by providing cash matching funds in an amount that is one half (50%) the total grant amount requested from the Iowa Arts Council. For example, an applicant that requests $10,000 in grant funds must have at least $5,000 in cash match for a minimum project budget of $15,000. Applicants are responsible for determining what level of funding they can afford to match.
The required cash match must be dedicated to one-time project expenses that are legitimate parts of the proposed project. Expenses identified in the match should be based on competitive, current market pricing. Applicants will be required to identify all anticipated cash match expenses and in-kind contributions beyond the grant request in the budget form, as well as the anticipated revenue sources that will cover them. The cash match does not have to be secured at the time of application but must be secured and identified in the final report at the end of the funding period.
- Cash match is actual cash contributed to direct project expenses by the applicant or other funding sources.
Applicant’s time dedicated to the project and indirect costs can be included as part of the cash match.[Removed on March 15, 2023]
- Expenses used for cash match must be eligible grant request expenses as detailed in the Budget Requirements section of these guidelines
- In-kind match is non-cash goods or services provided at no charge to the project by a third party
- Funding from the state government cannot be used to meet the match requirement
- Funding from the federal government cannot be used to meet the match requirement
Applications are encouraged from all applicants that meet the applicant eligibility requirements; however, priority will be placed on applications from individuals and organizations that are led by or primarily serve populations that have historically been under-resourced by arts and cultural funding due to rural geography, race/ethnicity, or socioeconomic status as defined in the Grants Terms and Definitions for fiscal year 2024.
Online Application Submission
Applicants must submit applications via the Iowa Arts Council’s SlideRoom, an online application portal. Applications will not be accepted in any other format. Late, incomplete or ineligible applications will not be accepted. Applicants can access the current online application requirements at iowa arts council.slideroom.com. Applicants must create a login to view the full application requirements for the program. Applicants can visit help.liaisonedu.com for technical assistance related to the online submission.
Department Eligibility Review
Submitted applications are reviewed by staff for completion, eligibility and adherence to published funding priorities and guidelines. Applications are reviewed as submitted. New application information or subsequent application clarification submitted after a program deadline is not considered unless requested by a program manager. Staff will also review an applicant’s record of compliance and good standing with the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, State and Federal government. Applications or applicants determined by staff to be ineligible or incomplete will not move forward to panel review and are specifically denied any appeals process.
Competitive Panel Review
Eligible applications will be referred to a competitive review by a panel of professionals with appropriate expertise commensurate to the purpose of the grant program. Applications will be scored and ranked based on the published scoring rubric. Recommendations are submitted to the Administrator of the Iowa Arts Council and Director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs for consideration and funding approval. Applications will be awarded funding based on the ranked list, funding priorities, and available funding. All funding decisions are final and may not be appealed due to dissatisfaction. Applicants may review the department appeals policy for information on grounds for appeal and the appeal process.
Typically, applicants are notified of funding decisions within eight weeks after the application deadline. Applicants are notified of the status of their application whether they are or are not selected to receive funding. Applicants will be contacted if any additional information is required and are encouraged to refrain from contacting staff for application status updates until funding decisions are made.
If awarded funding, Greenlight Grant award recipients will be asked to provide a professional headshot for the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs to use for publicity purposes.
Application Questions and Scoring Rubric
The following scoring rubric will be used to evaluate applications. Each section has criteria and corresponding point values to ensure a fair review process. The rubric is on a scale of 33 points. Application questions are for reference only. Applicants must review and complete application requirements in the Slideroom portal.
Attach current resume or curriculum vitae (CV) for your film career; and, also describe the applicant’s career as an Iowa filmmaker, including:
- the type and quality of productions you make
- notable achievements and dates in your film career
- how the proposed production will advance your career and work as an Iowa filmmaker
- continuing education and training
APPLICANT PROFILE: 3 points possible
3 Applicant demonstrates and supports an active filmmaking career with exceptional capabilities in production quality. Applicant demonstrates a strong record of progress in their film career through relevant notable achievements as well as continuing education and training.
2 Applicant demonstrates and supports an average experience in the industry. Applicant has identified relevant notable achievements and has received some education or training in the craft.
1 Applicant demonstrates and supports little to no experience in the industry. Career and type of productions made is unclear or inadequate. Applicant has little to no education or training in the craft of filmmaking.
Attach one production attachment which may include a pitch package, lookbook, electronic script and/or storyboard to convey your vision. All components of the production attachment should be submitted as one combined file attachment. If production attachment exceeds 10 MB, please attach in the Media section at the end of the application.
List relevant slides or pages of Production Attachment related to Story/Content; and, describe the proposed production, including:
- type and genre
STORY/CONTENT: 3 points possible
3 Content is exemplary. Story description is clear.
2 Content is identified. Story description is satisfactory.
1 Content and/or story description is unclear or inadequate.
List relevant slides or pages of Production Attachment related to Production Team; and, identify “above-the-line” members of the production team, including:
- roles within the project
Production Team Resumes or CVs
Attach current resumes or curriculum vitaes (CV) for the "above the line" production team. Combine all files into one document to upload. File must be less than 10 MB.
PRODUCTION TEAM: 3 points possible
3 Key artistic and logistical production team members and their responsibilities are well-defined and their professionalism will enhance the project.
2 Key artistic and logistical production team members and their responsibilities are identified.
1 Artistic or logistical production team members and their responsibilities are unclear or not identified.
List relevant slides or pages of Production Attachment related to Production Timeline; and, provide a production timeline and any shoot schedules, detailing when project activities will occur. Be sure to include all phases of pre-production, production, post-production and distribution. Consider also including when key artistic decisions will be made and events, as applicable. If you include activities that occur outside of the funding period for context, indicate that by adding an asterisk (*). Deadlines can be listed as the month it is set to be complete, like September 2023, rather than a specific date.
PRODUCTION TIMELINE: 3 points possible
3 Confident project will be successfully realized due to extensive planning and a clear, realistic timeline for pre-production, production, post-production and distribution. Project is clearly achievable through the identified timeline.
2 Applicant demonstrates average planning and identifies a timeline for pre-production, production, post-production and distribution. Project appears achievable through the identified timeline.
1 Timeline and planning for pre-production, production, post-production and distribution are inadequate or unrealistic. Multiple concerns about project achievability.
Impact on Creative Economy
Describe how the project will contribute to building a more robust and sustainable film industry in Iowa through job creation and patronage of small businesses, including:
- Number of job positions created
- Plans for job shadowing or professional development of Iowa students
- Economic impact to rural or economically-challenged areas of the state
- Plans for leveraging grant funds in order to secure more outside funding and future investors
IMPACT ON CREATIVE ECONOMY: 3 points possible
3 Production will significantly impact and benefit the film industry in Iowa. Project will create many job opportunities and need for special services. Applicant has outlined well-defined plans to grow outside financial support for the project.
2 Production will adequately benefit the film and media industry in Iowa. An average number of job opportunities will be created. Applicant has outlined average plans to grow outside financial support for the project.
1 Production will not have a significant impact on the film industry in Iowa. Few job opportunities will be created. Applicant has outlined inadequate plans to grow outside financial support for project, or has not outlined plans at all.
Project Marketing & Distribution
List relevant slides or pages of Production Attachment related to Project Marketing & Distribution; and, describe any marketing and distribution plans for the finished project, including:
- methods of distribution, including festival names, locations, and dates; streaming platforms; self-distribution; and other methods
- scale of distribution, including plans for outside of Iowa (local, national, international)
- plans for marketing, including industry contacts and relationships that will be utilized
- how the marketing and distribution plans will be implemented
PROJECT MARKETING & DISTRIBUTION: 3 points possible
3 Project will be successfully distributed and viewed by a larger audience outside of the state, based upon the strategies and platform for distribution. Applicant has an impressive plan for film festival submissions.
2 Project will likely be successfully distributed and viewed by an audience outside of the state, based upon the strategies and platform for distribution. Applicant has an average plan for film festival submissions.
1 Project is unlikely to be successfully distributed, nor seen by a larger audience outside of the state, based upon the strategies and platform for distribution. Applicant has an inadequate plan for film festival submissions.
List relevant slides or pages of Production Attachment related to Production Budget; and, complete the remaining components of the project budget section of this application.
Grant Request Expenses
Itemize the eligible expenses that will be funded by the grant request, including a description and the dollar amount for each. Round to the nearest dollar. Do not enter decimal signs or commas. Add a final "TOTAL" row at the bottom that identifies the total grant request.
|Expense Description||Grant Request Amount ($)|
Detail any cash match expenses or in-kind contributions outside of the grant request that are dedicated to the project, including the total cash amount or in-kind value, the funding source, and whether the funding source has been secured for the expense. Round to the nearest dollar. Do not enter decimal signs or commas. Add a final "TOTAL" row at the bottom that identifies the total cash expenses and total value of in-kind contributions.
|Expense Description||Cash Match ($)||In-Kind Value ($)||Funding Source||Secured (Yes/No)|
Estimated Total Project Cost
Enter the total estimated cost of the project. This value should equal the sum of the grant request, cash match expenses and in-kind contributions. Round to the nearest dollar. Do not enter decimal signs or commas.
|BUDGET: 3 points possible|
|3 Project budget and intended use of requested funds are clear and appropriate. Project demonstrates financial support by leveraging diverse sources of funding for cash match and in-kind expenses.
||2 Project budget, intended use of requested funds and sources of funding for cash match and in-kind expenses are identified.||1 Project budget, intended use of requested funds or sources of funding for cash match and in-kind expenses are unclear or inadequate.|
Submit 3-5 work samples of past productions that relate to the proposed film, TV or digital media project. Work samples may not be bios, testimonials, news articles or marketing material such as brochures, fliers or posters.
- Video and audio files should not exceed 3 minutes each.
- PDF files should not exceed 2 pages each.
- Panelists will not view more than 2 pages of a document or more than 3 minutes of an audio or video file.
|WORK SAMPLES: 3 points possible|
|3 Work samples are of high quality and clearly demonstrate exceptional capabilities in concept and form.||2 Work samples are of average quality and demonstrate capabilities in concept and form.||1 Work samples are of poor quality or demonstrate inadequate capabilities in concept and form.|
The following scoring criteria reference the quality of the proposal and application as a whole and not any particular question.
|IOWA FILM INDUSTRY IMPACT: 3 points possible|
|3 Project will clearly elevate the Iowa filmmaking community, substantially impact future production and the vitality of the media industry in Iowa, and position Iowa as a filmmaking destination.||2 Project may elevate the Iowa filmmaking community, will reasonably impact future production and the vitality of the media industry in Iowa, and may position Iowa as a filmmaking destination.||1 Project does not appear to elevate the Iowa filmmaking community, does not adequately impact future production and the vitality of the media industry in Iowa, and does not position Iowa as a filmmaking destination.|
|CASE FOR SUPPORT: 3 points possible|
|3 Case for support is exemplary and merits investment from the state.||2 Case for support is adequate.||1 Case for support is inadequate or does not merit state investment.|
|PUBLIC INTEREST: 3 points possible|
|3 Project tells a story that is highly important and relevant to Iowans and needs to be told to a larger audience.||2 Project tells a story that is somewhat important and relevant to Iowans. The project may benefit from being told to a larger audience.||1 Project does not tell a story that is important or relevant to Iowans. The necessity of reaching a larger audience is unclear or poorly defined.|
Glossary of Terms and Definitions
Applicants should refer to the glossary for clarification of program terms and definitions.