The Nevada City Film Festival Filmmaker Residency is borne out of the fun, nurturing and artist-friendly values of the Nevada City Film Festival. We aim to provide nourishment and inspiration to a diverse range of independent writers, directors and producers amidst the beauty and quiet of Nevada City and Grass Valley along with further enriching the area’s artistic offerings and its world-class creative community with the active presence of these filmmakers. The residency will focus on bringing filmmakers from communities with historic ties to Nevada City, placing special emphasis on engaging Native and Asian American filmmakers, to participate in cross-cultural exchange with Nevada County residents.

About the Program

2 filmmakers will be selected to spend 3-4 weeks in Nevada City in August 2019. The goal is to support their creative work and artistic growth in new, inspiring environs, while also creating a space and a foundation for dialogue, exchange and potential artistic collaboration.

The fundamental structure would be as follows:

  • NCFF will provide the filmmaker residents with comfortable housing that is either within walking distance of either historic downtowns or a short drive.
  • NCFF will provide a stipend that should cover basic living expenses such as groceries, gas for local travel and incidentals.
  • NCFF will provide a work space at the festival’s headquarter which includes high speed internet, office supplies, a place for meeting, etc.
  • NCFF will set up weekly meetings with special guest industry professionals in the areas of editing, screenwriting and directing to meet and work with the filmmaker residents.
  • NCFF will work with local partners including schools and businesses to provide filmmakers with editing bays, green screens, and sound stages.
  • NCFF will host bi-weekly mixers at local restaurants, bars and coffee shops with local/regional producers, editors, cinematographers, writers and directors, to provide filmmakers with a local network.

NCFF will work closely with the filmmaker residents to design a cultural enrichment program for the Nevada City and Grass Valley community. Filmmakers can propose a tailored program. We would provide a budget for resources to execute each resident’s cultural program. We would also solicit ideas from local schools, theaters and filmmakers for what programs could most benefit the community.

Examples may include:

  • Talks at local high schools or filmmaking classes for youth.
  • NCFF will host the filmmaker residents during the 19th Annual Nevada City Film Festival, August 23-30, 2019.
  • Curating a thematic series of film screenings.
  • Holding a workshop on writing or editing for local filmmakers.

Feedback from last year's residents

"My time at Nevada City residency was divine. It was a magical and beautiful place to live and write without distractions. Jesse was super helpful in connecting me to relevant organizations and people that were perfectly suited to the subject matter I was researching for my new screenplay. The Yube River holds a special place in my memories and will probably make an appearance in a scene or two."
Christina Choe
Nancy, I am John Wayne

"The Nevada City Film Festival Filmmaker residency was one of the best experiences I've ever had. It gave me the opportunity to focus on writing my next film, edit a short film and start shooting a new feature. But I also got to take in the natural surroundings, hiking and spending a lot of time at the river and befriending many of the locals. Jesse and her staff were awesome.  The residency is one every filmmaker should take part of sometime in the future."

- Blackhorse Lowe
Chasing the Light, Shinmasani


Located at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, surrounded by the Tahoe National Forest and the wild and scenic Yuba River, are the beautifully preserved historic towns of Nevada City and Grass Valley.

Steeped in history and with the most famous gold-mining district in California, Nevada City and Grass Valley experienced a “cultural revolution” that has reshaped the local economy and continues to influence the statewide arts scene. Starting in the ’60s, Beat Generation and deep ecology poet Gary Snyder, singer Utah Phillips, and a host of authors and musicians settled here. Now, for more than 50 high-tech companies – including a virtual and augmented reality hub – creativity occurs in peaceful, natural environments far from major urban centers.

Between them, Nevada City and Grass Valley are home to the Nevada Theatre, the oldest theater in California, and more than 100 arts-related organizations producing upwards of 1,000 events a year, scores of annual festivals, street fairs, art walks and studio tours, and a generous base of artists and makers.

As well as for its arts, the district is known for its expanding vineyards, wineries, and tasting rooms, and a trail network of outstanding natural beauty. The Nisenan lived in the region for thousands of years as part of a perfectly balanced ecosystem, thriving on the Yuba, Bear, and American river watersheds – and, over time, their sacred places are being rediscovered and cherished.

A Film Festival That Supports Independent Voices

Since 2001, the Nevada City Film Festival (NCFF) has brought top independent film, music and comedy, along with attracting thousands of attendees, international filmmakers, and industry guests to the historic Gold Rush era town of Nevada City, California.

NCFF is often referred to as the “Sundance of the Sierra” for its emphasis on fiercely independent cinema that showcases innovative, progressive and exciting new voices in film. In 2016, NCFF was named by Moviemaker Magazine as one of the top 50 film festivals in the world worth the submission fee for filmmakers. 

In previous years NCFF has hosted filmmakers such as Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine, Ruby Sparks), Mike Mills, Miranda July, Wesley Allsbrook, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim (Cartoon Networks Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!), Bill Nye (the Science Guy), and comedians including Maria Bamford, Tig Notaro, Nick Kroll, Natasha Leggero, Nick Thune and Marc Maron. Past NCFF judges have included award-winning producers and directors, plus writers from The Huffington Post, New York Times, McSweeneys, San Francisco Chronicle, Rolling Stone Magazine, and Pop-Up Magazine.

How to Apply

Applicants will be selected based on a written application, which will include the filmmakers ideas on community engagement, samples of past work or works in progress, and a personal interview.

Interested filmmakers, institutions and organizations are invited to contact Residency Director, Karin Chien at

For more information contact Nevada City Film Festival

Jesse Locks, Festival Director, or (916) 548-7716