The Buster Keaton Porkpie Scholar Grant

The International Buster Keaton Society is now accepting submissions for the 2017 Porkpie Scholar Grant.

2017 Deadline: Grant applications are due online Dec. 15, 2017.

The Porkpie Scholar Grant Program was established in 2008 with a substantial gift from a member of the International Buster Keaton Society who wishes to remain anonymous. The organization matched that gift to create the seed money for this grant program, which offers grants to authors, artists, film preservationists, filmmakers, composers and others who are contributing to the ongoing understanding and appreciation of the life and work of comedian/filmmaker Buster Keaton.

The International Buster Keaton Society, Inc., was founded in 1992 with the purpose of fostering understanding and perpetuating appreciation of the life, career and films of Buster Keaton. The group advocates for historical accuracy about Keaton’s life and work, encourages dissemination of information and research about Keaton, and endorses preservation and restoration of Keaton’s films and performances. The International Buster Keaton Society Porkpie Scholar Grant Program issues grants of $350 annually to one or two recipients (“Porkpie Scholars”) per year.

Eligibility: Grant projects should relate in some shape or form to the goals of the International Buster Keaton Society. Types of projects may include (but are not restricted to): articles or books, film restoration, musical scores, documentary films about Keaton, plays and art exhibits.

Application Process: Applications can be requested by email at

Nobel Prize-winning Playwright Samuel Beckett wrote the screenplay for only one film—and made his only trip to the United States to shoot it. It’s a short silent film called Film, released in 1965 and starring Buster Keaton. Film has now come out on DVD and Blu-ray, along with a documentary called Notfilm by film restorer Ross Lipman about the making of Film. Classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz admits to being a passionate admirer of both Beckett and Keaton

“In 1964, Buster Keaton was offered the most serious role of his career. Samuel Beckett was working on his only screenplay—a short film called Film depicting a character who, like a cockroach, seems terrified of being seen. Beckett calls this character “O” for being the “Object” of “E,” the “Eye” of the camera that’s obsessively following him. Beckett first wanted Chaplin but finally turned to Keaton, whose Great Stone Face and hapless but intrepid character have often been compared to Beckett. The playwright had previously asked Keaton to play the beleaguered slave Lucky in the American premiere of Waiting for Godot, but Keaton, bewildered by the script, turned him down. The new DVD also includes the memorable 1961 television version of Waiting for Godot, directed by Alan Schneider, with two great comic actors, Zero Mostel and Burgess Meredith, performing Beckett’s existential vaudeville.” 


The sequence that is considered the most expensive shot in the Silent Era is the climactic train crash in Buster Keaton’s epic comedy “The General”. At $42,000 (in 1927 dollars), the cost was more than 10% of the film’s budget. Because this was a time before CGI, Keaton, shooting in Oregon, took a real locomotive, a real bridge and set up multiple cameras. He then lit the bridge on fire, yelled “action” and captured the wreck on film all in one take.