Early Stage Project Grants are open to individuals or companies that are primarily engaged in the creation of screen media content and based in the Edmonton metro region. The Early Stage Project Grant program assists with third-party costs incurred during the initial planning phase of a project. Applicants can apply for funding of 75% of the costs, up to a maximum grant of $3,500.



Eligible Applicants

Early Stage Project Grants are available to: 

  • enterprises with a principal office in the Edmonton metro region that have been resident and operational for a minimum of one year; or,
  • individuals with professional screen media content creation experience or expertise who have been resident in the Edmonton metro region for a minimum of one year.

Applicants must be in good standing with the ESIO and the City of Edmonton. 

Exceptions may be considered, please contact [email protected] to discuss prior to completing the application. 

Only one Early Stage Project Grant will be offered per applicant in 2023. If you received an Early Stage Grant in 2023, you are not eligible to apply.

Eligible Projects

Eligible projects must: 

  • be 100%-owned, -controlled or -optioned by the applicant; and,
  • not have received previous funding from the ESIO.

Initiatives that are outside of the day-to-day operations of an applicant will receive priority for funding.

Ineligible Projects 

  • Projects that are primarily propaganda (false, exaggerated, or distorted ideas, visual material and statements typically used for a political purpose)
  • Interactive digital media projects that do not have an interactive element (g. e-publications, catalogues and compilations of re-purposed material without value-added content)
  • Projects that promote cruelty, sexual violence or sexual exploitation
  • Projects which contain elements that are pornographic, obscene, indecent or contain child pornography or are considered hate speech within the meaning of the Criminal Code of Canada
  • Projects that are libelous or in any way unlawful


Eligible Costs (maximum funding of up to 75% of total costs) 

  • Option fees
  • Acquisition or licensing fees
  • Research fees
  • Screenwriting fees
  • Story editors/story consultants
  • Grant writers and other funding proposal prep assistance (for non-ESIO programs)
  • Script breakdown/budgeting costs
  • Audience testing/focus groups
  • Preliminary market study
  • Technology infrastructure (hardware, software)
  • Contracts for project-specific teams (for example, writer, researcher, designer, graphic artist/illustrator, programmer, composing and audio work, project manager, business development, coding, design, system infrastructure, content development)
  • Expenses to put content online, including copyright clearance, documentation, design and development of the prototype, versioning
  • Video demos/sizzle reels/trailers
  • Legal fees
  • Stock images or footage
  • Character art and artists

Other costs may be considered, subject to pre-approval. Contact [email protected] to discuss prior to completing the application.n. 

Only arms-length, third-party costs are eligible. 

Only costs incurred after submission of this application to the ESIO will be eligible and must completed no later than February 28, 2024.

Ineligible Costs

  • Later stage project costs (for example, costs incurred during production, post-production and release phases of film and television projects and costs incurred during development and marketing phases of interactive digital media projects)
  • Activities and projects for which the applicant has already received funding or a commitment for funding from the ESIO
  • Salaries and benefits for employees
  • Contingency, overhead and/or producer fees
  • Alcohol and controlled substances
  • Pre-paid cards
  • GST will not be reimbursed if the applicant has a GST number
  • Costs for which the applicant has received, or will receive, non-repayable funding



Applications will be accepted beginning on August 9 2023 until 11:59 pm MDT on August 31, 2023.

Applicants must submit a separate application form for each project. Applicants may indicate a priority order for multiple submissions; however, applications that best align with the program goals may be chosen over the applicants’ priority choices. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Based on a variety of factors, including the number of high-quality applications, the ESIO may not fund 100% of a request.

Successful applicants will be notified approximately one month after the closing date. 


Any questions regarding eligibility, the application process or application assessment can be submitted to [email protected]. 

Any concerns related to the application process or assessment or with client services can be submitted to [email protected].