Big Sky Film Grant
The Montana Film Office (MFO) was established in 1974 as a central information source for filmmakers and to provide services to the film industry and the citizens of Montana. Its primary role is to promote the state of Montana as a media production location for film, television, and print industries. Today, MFO operates within the Destination MT Division of the Department of Commerce and is funded by an allocation of the Lodging Facility Use Tax – commonly known as the “bed tax.” In addition to the many benefits of filming in Montana, MFO offers a robust grant program to attract, grow and sustain the industry.
The Big Sky Film Grant (BSFG) program builds and supports partnerships with filmmakers and production companies with the intention to create Montana film industry jobs. In addition to providing grant funding, the program elevates and supports Montana filmmakers, crew, and those businesses and individuals providing the products, services and locations to the film industry. To qualify, a production must film 50% or more of the principal photography days in Montana.
In 2023, Senate Bill 540 of the 68th Montana Legislature revised the laws related to state-funded tourism promotion to require a specific allocation of bed tax for “Montana-based film grants.” The Big Sky Film Grant program was reformed and expanded to include a focus on Rural Montana going forward.
Depending upon the category, eligible productions include feature films, short films, documentaries, television series, limited series, music videos, and others. Certain categories of productions are excluded from the program, including, but not limited to, broadcast news or current affairs programs, interview or talk shows, instructional videos, sport shows or events, religious or political campaigns, adult content, and daytime soap operas.
For complete eligibility and application requirements, please refer to the BSFG Application Guidelines.
Feature Film & TV
Awards in this category are made to a Montana-Based production of a feature length film, television series, or limited series, with a minimum Montana-Spend of $350,000. Award amounts are not limited in this category but are subject to annual program funding limitations.
Resident Filmmaker – Feature Film & TV
Awards in this category are made to a Montana-Based production of a feature length project that is produced by a Montana resident filmmaker who has a validated credit as a producer, director, or primary director of photography. Award amounts are a minimum of $1,000 and a maximum of up to $100,000 per project. Proof of Montana residency must be submitted with an application to be eligible.
Awards in this category are to a Montana-Based production of a short-form content film project. Examples include a short narrative, pilot episode, documentary, animation, webisode, Montana-centric story, or a film series of episodes each 60 minutes or less in length and with a budget of less than $350,000 per episode. Award amounts are a minimum of $1,000 and a maximum of up to $50,000 per project.
Resident Filmmaker – Short-Form Content
Awards in this category are made to a Montana-Based production of a short-form content project that is produced by a Montana resident filmmaker who has a validated credit as a producer, director, or primary director of photography. Examples include a short narrative, pilot episode, documentary, animation, webisode, Montana-centric story, or a film series of episodes each 60 minutes or less in length and with a budget of less than $350,000 per episode. Award amounts are a minimum of $1,000 and a maximum of up to $50,000 per project. Proof of Montana residency must be submitted with an application to be eligible.
2024 Big Sky Film Grant
The Big Sky Film Grant program accepts applications on an annual basis. The current funding cycle is accepting applications starting February 22, 2024 via the Department of Commerce Grants & Loans online portal. Application deadline is midnight on March 31, 2024 (MST).
Preparing To Apply
- Review the following
- Gather and organize required information, documents, electronic files and application materials; see Appendix A Application Information.
- Create an OKTA login account (the state of Montana’s secure login platform) to access the online grant application portal. Download the OKTA account instructions here.
- There are four online applications, one for each BSFG category; select only one. Applicants are limited to one application per cycle, and a project can only be included in one application (can’t use the same project in more than one application).
- Access the online portal Montana Grants & Loans portal
- If you have not previously registered and created an OKTA login account, go to USER REGISTRATION top upper right area of the home page and follow instructions. You will receive an email from firstname.lastname@example.org on how to complete your account setup after you submit this registration.
- Use the login button at the top of the portal once you complete your account setup.
- Enter account login credentials
- Various grant and loan funding opportunities are listed on the main portal page, use the filters on the left with keyword search BSFG and click on the search icon; this will bring up the four unique BSFG applications
- Select (click on) the BSFG application for the category you are applying for: Feature Film & TV | Resident Filmmaker Feature Film & TV | Short-Form Content | Resident Filmmaker Short-Form Content
- Review the tabs for Description and Application Forms
- To start the online application, click on the Apply button in the upper right area and follow the prompts to enter required information, file uploads and attachments. Note – the electronic form will not let you save a draft without all required fields completed, enter information and save as a draft if you need to edit the application at a later time. Do not click on the Submit button until you are finished editing.
- Once you have entered and confirmed all information is correct and complete, click on the Submit button in the upper right area. Note – once the application has been submitted it is locked and no longer accessible to the applicant.
- Only applications submitted by the deadline will be reviewed.
Applications will only be accepted through the online application portal. For assistance, please contact Kev Campbell, Media Incentive & Grant Specialist, 406.841.2883 or 406.841.2876 or email her at email@example.com.
To receive assistance or more information about any of the Montana Film Office services, please contact us:
Montana Film Office