Lynn Shelton "Of a Certain Age" Grant
The Lynn Shelton “Of A Certain Age” Grant is a project-based award that provides $25,000 to an individual woman, non-binary, and/or transgender U.S. filmmaker, age 39 or older, who is working on their first narrative feature (65 minutes or over) as a director.
This grant seeks to recognize a film director for their distinct vision, storytelling, and singularity.
In 2020, The Lynn Shelton “Of A Certain Age” Grant was established by Northwest Film Forum alongside Duplass Brothers Productions to honor Seattle filmmaker Lynn Shelton, who passed away tragically on May 16th, 2020. Lynn Shelton often spoke of feeling inspired after seeing filmmaker Claire Denis speak at Northwest Film Forum and learning that Denis did not make her first feature until age 40. Shelton went on to make her own first feature film (We Go Way Back) at the age of 39. In the years since, she built a prolific canon of feature and television work and made an indelible mark on the landscape of American cinema.
- Eligible filmmakers must have “director” credit on at least one short film or feature documentary and have a desire to work in the narrative space. Filmmakers with “director” credit on a feature-length (70+ min) narrative film will not be considered.
- Filmmaker should be a woman, non-binary, and/or transgender individual, and be 39 years or older at the time of their application.
- Filmmaker must be able to receive income in the U.S.
- Filmmaker should be at a point in their career where such recognition would be meaningful and provide needed support.
APPLICATION TIMELINE (2021)
- Tuesday, August 10 – Application opens
- Friday, August 20 – Info Session, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. PST
- Tuesday, September 7 – Application closes at 9 p.m. PST
- Wednesday, October 6 – All applicants notified
- Wednesday, October 20 – Finalist extended materials due
- Tuesday, November 16 – Recipient Announcement
The grant fund was spearheaded by Duplass Brothers Productions, which includes Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass, and Mel Eslyn, and has since been bolstered by many others including Washington-based production company COLOR, Eliza Flug, Tracy Rector, Joshua Leonard & Alison Pill, Marc Maron, CB Shamah, Michaela Watkins & Fred Kramer, Jennessa & Robert West.
Supporters of the inaugural grant include Chris & Philip Wohlstetter.
Why is this grant open to both women, nonbinary, and/or transgender individuals?
In her life, Lynn Shelton aligned herself with not just women and trans women filmmakers, but with gender non-conforming and trans men as well. Transgender filmmakers served by this grant include any filmmmaker on the transgender spectrum, including transgender men. We wanted to center the grant around those Lynn aligned herself with in the fight for equal representation.
Why is this grant only open to those who are 39 years or older?
Lynn was 39 years old when she directed her first feature We Go Way Back. She often spoke of feeling inspired after seeing filmmaker Claire Denis speak at Northwest Film Forum and learning that Denis did not make her first feature until age 40. Shelton went on to build a prolific canon of feature and television work and made an indelible mark on the landscape of American cinema. This grant seeks to reinforce that great filmmakers can emerge at any age, and to elevate the voices of a segment of the filmmaking community who have precious few resources dedicated to supporting them yet plenty of stories to tell.
Why is it called the “Of a Certain Age” grant?
The poet Byron in 1817 wrote, “She was not old, nor young, nor at the years / Which certain people call a certain age / Which yet the most uncertain age appears.” The Oxford English Dictionary defined certain, when used in this context, as “which it is not polite or necessary further to define.” In naming the grant, we hoped to reclaim the phrase and imbue it with a sense of power and positivity. Lynn wore her “late bloomer” status as a badge of honor, and there was an appreciation and an immediacy to the way Lynn approached her film and TV career which she openly credited to the fact that she got a later start than most. She specialized in humane comedy, and this grant name is a nod to both her life and her humor.
Grant News Archive
October 2020 News: Inaugural Lynn Shelton “Of a Certain Age” Grant Awarded to Miami-Based Caribbean-American Filmaker Keisha Rae Witherspoon
“Keisha Rae Witherspoon is one of those filmmakers that make you excited about what’s possible. The way she conveys characters that are at once both completely unique yet also familiar–like people who you actually know but no one you’ve ever met. To me, I see a direct connection to the work of Lynn Shelton there,” says [juror Nahnatchka] Khan, who collaborated with Shelton on Fresh Off the Boat. “The way Lynn was able to drop you into the lives of people who felt real and true and then take you on a journey to show you how everyone is totally unique. Keisha continues in that tradition by also blurring the lines between reality and fiction and playing with tone in a way that makes you feel rooted in something and also slightly off-balance at the same time. I imagine Lynn would be delighted to discover the work of this talented new storyteller.”
- Read full press release announcement.
- Read article and interview with Keisha Rae Witherspoon via Indiewire.
- See surprise announcement with the jurors below.
2020 Lynn Shelton’s Of A Certain Age Grant Nominees: 25 Women & Non-Binary Filmmakers Over 39 to Watch
2020’s Of a Certain Age grant nominees are a truly talented collection of filmmakers from around the United States — and like Shelton, they have singular, powerful voices the world needs to hear. Though this list does not encompass every nominee, read on to meet 25 of them and watch samples of their work. And make sure you scroll to the bottom, where they each offer inspiring words of advice to up-and-coming filmmakers.