New York, NY Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series, the first Academy qualifying festival devoted to women filmmakers, is offering creators an opportunity to produce the pilot for a web series or a short film!

“The winner will receive $5,000 to produce the first episode of a web series, which can be used as a calling card to attract a producer and other film opportunities. You will be guided on your journey in learning the art of creating a high quality micro budget film. Story is Queen.” Says Carolyn Butts, founder of Reel Sisters.

DEADLINE: January 31, 2022

Announcement: March 7, 2022

Web Series Genres or Short Film: Animation, Documentary, Narrative, Comedy & Sc Fi.

The selected winner will retain full production and copyrights to your film. The only requirement that is asked is that Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series is listed in the production credits.

The pilot episode of the web series or your short film will air on Reel Sisters Tea & Cinema virtual series and be showcased in our annual international film festival.

Eligibility: Script must be written or co-written by a woman of color and non-binary filmmakers of color. Reel Sisters will accept submissions by women of African, Latina, Asian, Indian and Native American Descent. Please include your ethnicity in the application to confirm your eligibility. We encourage writing teams to apply.

Application Fee: $15 (Reading fee for processing your application). If you are selected as our Fellow, your $15 reading fee will be refunded.


  • $5,000 to direct and produce the first episode of your microbudget film.
  • Announced as the Winner on Reel Sisters & African Voices websites. A feature will also be published in African Voices magazine.
  • Your Web Series Pilot or Short Film will premiere on Reel Sisters Tea & Cinema online series and your film will be featured in our annual film festival.
  • Under the guidance of a mentor, you will revise your production schedule and begin development.
  • Full scholarship to Scriptwriting Essentials: The Art of Creating Strong Female Characters™ (Instruction value: $600). Any script revisions will be done in our workshop series.
  • Access to The Microbudget Indie Filmmaker’s Podcast produced by Zanah Thirus.
  • One on one consultation with mentors who will guide you in how to produce your first microbudget film.
  • Reel Sisters will assist in securing distribution opportunities and marketing support.
  • One Year Membership to African Voices/Reel Sisters (Includes free magazine subscription and discount to our programs).


Your application must include the following information to be complete. Thank you for submitting your webs series project in consideration for our Reel Sisters Micro Budget Film Fellowship!

Please upload all documents to Submittable as a PDF form or Microsoft Word.

Introduction (700 words max): Briefly tell us about your journey as a storyteller. Share information about what led you to writing and filmmaking as a career. Share your inspiration for creating the web series and the audience you would like to reach. Describe how the Reel Sisters Microbudget Film Fellowship would make a difference in your career.

LOGLINE (75 words max): a one to two-sentence description of the story.

SYNOPSIS (350 words max): brief summary of the plot of the script. Please include all major characters and story points, including the ending.

PILOT Web Series Screenplay or Short Film Script (no longer than 15 pages)

  • Length – no longer than ten (15) pages. This does not include the title page.
  • Limited to one (1) main location (INT or EXT) – Note: If you choose more than one location, please indicate whether the space is donated or how it would fit into your microbudget.
  • Written in English (Translated scripts are welcomed as long as you are the author).
  • Writing teams are welcomed but one member must be a woman of color.
  • Include a title page displaying only title of screenplay and name of credited writer(s)
  • Submit only original screenplays. The rights must be wholly original with and owned by the writer
  • Submit as a pdf file and must meet all standard screenplay format guidelines
  • Include 1 page draft of your Production Schedule. It will be revised if you are accepted as a Fellow.

Submissions will be evaluated with the following criteria:

  • PLOT: Create compelling richly textured characters. Films with strong female roles are encouraged.
  • CHARACTERS: Quirky and original characters that are relatable. Give us three dimensional protagonists and antagonists.
  • PRO TIP: “Every villain has someone who loves him,” Steve Carter, playwright.
  • ORIGINALITY: Create bold characters that the world has not seen before. Take risks and experiment with visual and written language on the screen and page. Hook the viewer in the first five pages of your script.


African Voices strives to transform the world one story at a time by creating a space for audiences to experience art, literature and film by artists of color. Founded in 1992, African Voices’ mission is carried out through public programs and the publication of a national literary magazine devoted to showcasing writers and artists from the African Diaspora. Scriptwriting Essentials & The Art of Creating Strong Female Characters™ is a trademark of Reel Sisters, established by African Voices in 1997.

Reel Sisters is the first Academy Qualifying Film Festival for narrative shorts devoted to women filmmakers. Reel Sisters is listed number 3 on Film Daily’s top 10 list of women-centered film festivals. Reel Sisters will celebrate its 24th Anniversary in 2021.

Each year, African Voices provides artistic services to 5,000 artists of color and young people throughout New York City and the tri-state area. For additional information, visit