Here Are All the Ways You Can Support the Film Industry During the Coronavirus Crisis

A constantly updated list of charities, virtual cinema programs, online film festivals, and other ways to help those in the entertainment business.
The Aksarben Village movie theater is closed in Omaha, Neb., due to the coronavirus outbreakVirus Outbreak Nebraska, Omaha, United States - 18 Mar 2020
The Aksarben Village movie theater in Omaha, Nebraska is closed March 18.
Nati Harnik/AP/Shutterstock

Theater closure and production stoppages during the coronavirus pandemic have left hundreds and thousands of people in the entertainment industry out of work and in desperate need of assistance, even as people now more than ever are relying on movies and TV to get them through their days.

What can movie and TV lovers do to help the industry? IndieWire has compiled this list of ways to support the ailing business and its workers — the dedicated and passionate people who make your favorite shows and films possible.

Several charities are providing grants to a range of creatives and support staff, while virtual cinema programs support movie theaters who otherwise have no revenue while cinemas are closed. Several festivals are selling tickets to online programs.

Below is our constantly updated list of ways to help, divided into categories and focused largely on US-based efforts.

Direct donations

-The Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation for 80 years has been supporting members of the industry when they’re in need. Now, its Pioneers Assistance Fund is focusing on helping movie theater workers who are without a paycheck. $300 grants are available for those who have worked at least five years in exhibition, with additional money available on a case-by-case basis. The foundation hopes to expand grants as donations come in. Donate here.

-The Motion Picture and Television Fund, another longtime aid organization, has set up a COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to help those struggling with the production shutdown. Grants are of about $1,000 are available for health insurance, mental health assistance, rent, food, and other essentials for workers with less than $10,000 in liquid assets. Donate here.

-The SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund aims to help some of the 100,000 union actors out of work who are unable to pay for basic living expenses. Donate here.

-The 138-year-old Actors Fund, which supports people in front of and behind the camera, is offering emergency relief grants for those affected by the crisis to help pay for food, medical expenses, and other essentials. It provided 2,800 people with grants in the first month after production shut down. Donate here.

-A new organization, Artist Relief, was founded in April with donations from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and other philanthropic groups. It’s offering $5,000 unrestricted grants for filmmakers, painters, musicians, poets, and others facing financial emergencies due to the impact of the coronavirus. Donate here.

-The Directors Guild Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund offers $1,000 grants to DGA members whose livelihood has been impacted by the production shutdown. Directors, assistant directors, location managers, and unit production managers are among those represented by the union. Donate here.

-Light Industry, Screen Slate, and others teamed up to create the Cinema Worker Solidarity Fund, focused on providing grants to out-of-work New York City movie theater employees. You can donate here.

-The Criterion Collection’s Art-House America Campaign, backed by Christopher Nolan, Wes Anderson, Lulu Wang, Greta Gerwig, Netflix, and others, is raising money for independent theaters. It’s less than $10,000 away from its $500,000 goal. Some 185 theaters applied, more than expected, and the first 52 grants on their way. Deadline to donate here is April 30.

-The Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Music for Relief program has established a COVID-19 Response Fund to primarily support people in the entertainment industry most vulnerable to the economic crisis plus additional funds for public health response. You can donate here.

-PEN America re-launched its Writers Emergency Fund to offer published writers, including film and TV scribes, money to pay their rent, bills, and health care costs. Donate here.

-The Recording Academy and its affiliated foundation MusiCares have launched a COVID-19 Relief Fund to help those in the music industry affected by the pandemic. You can donate here.

VOD with a cause

-Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s “Fleabag” one-woman play, which spawned the acclaimed series, is available to rent on Amazon for $5, with proceeds going to COVID-19 relief charities.

-For $49.99, Oscilloscope’s Circle of Quarantine is offering a choice of 10 HD digital downloads of any of dozens of available titles, including “Bellflower,” “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” and “Madeline’s Madeline.” $10 of the proceeds go to the Cinema Worker Solidarity Fund.

Virtual cinema programs

Several independent distributors have launched programs that allow viewers to rent new releases or library titles online for $10 to $15 with part of the revenue going to movie theaters. Each distributor is working with a different selection of theaters across the country.

Some theaters, including Los Angeles’ Laemmle Theatres, Alamo Drafthouse, and Film at Lincoln Center, have created landing pages for virtual cinema experiences that support their theaters.

Those interested in helping a local theater can find details on its website. Otherwise, you can head to distributors’ websites, pick a movie, and select a participating theater.

Grasshopper Film (“Vitalina Varela,” “The Hottest August,” “Sunrise/Sunset”)

Magnolia Pictures (“Slay the Dragon,” “The Whistlers,” “Once Were Brothers”)

Film Movement (“A White, White Day,” “Corpus Christi,” “The Wild Goose Lake,” “Zombi Child,” “L’Innocente,” “Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands”)

Kino Lorber (“Beanpole” “Mephisto,” “Baccurau,” “Beyond the Visible,” “Extra Ordinary,” “The Woman Who Loves Giraffes,” “Sorry We Missed You”)

Bleecker Street (“The Roads Not Taken”)

Music Box Films (“And Then We Danced,” “Eating Up Easter”)

Distrib Films (“Balloon,” “Santiago, Italia,” “The Perfect Nanny,” “Someone Somewhere)

Oscilloscope (“Saint Frances”)

Online film festivals

Many local and regional festivals are running ticketed online programs for the public in lieu of in-person events that were canceled. In some cases only users in certain geographic areas can access the programming.

Chattanooga Film Festival, dates TDA.

Sarasota Film Festival, April 27 – May 3.

Ashland Independent Film Festival, May 22 – June 14

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