As documentary filmmakers know only too well, when in the midst of making a documentary you will need all the support you can get — especially if it comes in the form of a lab or grant. These programs not only provide you with the opportunity for feedback on your project, but also create intimate opportunities for networking with financiers and distributors, as well as other members of the documentary filmmaking community.
The nine programs below are listed in order of deadlines; the descriptions are from each program’s website and have been edited down for concision. Click on the links for more information and eligibility requirements.
About the Program: IFP’s Spotlight on Documentaries is a forum for U.S. and International buyers, sales agents and financiers to meet with filmmakers with new documentary feature projects. Presenting 60 documentaries ranging from those at an early financing stage (i.e. early development or in production) to those nearing completion (i.e. in post-production or at a rough cut stage), this section includes emerging and established filmmakers in non-fiction. Accepted filmmakers will take part in pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings with potential financing and distribution partners, speed dating meetings with festival programmers, invitations to private documentary events and exclusive access to the Filmmaker Conference during IFP’s Independent Film Week.
Early Deadline: May 1, 2015 at midnight, HST
Late Deadline: May 22, 2015 at midnight, HST
Pacific Pioneer Fund
About the Program: The goal of the Pacific Pioneer Fund is to support emerging documentary filmmakers. The term “emerging” is intended to denote a person committed to the craft of making documentaries, who has demonstrated that commitment by several years — but no more than ten — of practical film or video experience.
Deadlines: Two per year – June 1, 2015 and December 1, 2015 (must be postmarked before or on this date)
Chicken & Egg Pictures’ Accelerator Lab
About the Program: The Accelerator Lab is focused on identifying and supporting a diverse group of women nonfiction directors who are first- and second-time filmmakers, with the aim of helping them break into the documentary film world, keep on track within the industry’s pipeline, build toward sustainable and successful careers and tell the most powerful and impactful stories they can. Five first-time and five second-time feature documentary filmmakers, selected through the 2015 Open Call, will each receive a $35,000 grant for the production of a film, to be developed, produced, and launched over the course of a 12-month program (with the possibility of an extension). The grant will be disbursed in two parts: the first part will be awarded in November 2015. The remaining grant will be tied to agreed-upon deliverables and deadlines.
Deadline: June 10, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. ET
American Documentary Film Fund
About the Program: The American Documentary Film Fund is an adjunct event related to the American Documentary Film Festival. The Film Fund submitters are not in any way required to submit a film to the festival – this is a separate event within the confines of the festival. We encourage first-time and established filmmakers to submit to the Film Fund competition where upwards of $50,000 may be distributed each year to winning project(s). The Fund’s participants are able to compete for financing for new projects as well as works in progress. A panel of film industry professionals will review a select group of documentary filmmaker projects for funding consideration.
Earlybird Deadline: June 18, 2015
Regular Deadline: October 15, 2015
Late Deadline: December 15, 2015
Withoutabox Extended Deadline: January 10, 2016
LEF Foundation Moving Image Fund – Pre-Production Grant
About the Program: The goal of LEF New England is to fund the work of independent documentary film and video artists in the region, and to broaden recognition and support for their work, both locally and nationally. It also supports programs that highlight the rich history and ongoing legacy of innovation within New England’s independent film community. LEF’s Moving Image Fund (MIF) provides funding across all phases of production, supporting films from the early risk-taking stage, through a film’s completion. In this way, MIF offers a continuum of support for selected projects, while also identifying new talent. Through MIF, LEF New England champions work that is provocative, heartfelt, and challenging in style and substance. Since its inception, LEF’s Moving Image Fund has supported over 300 independent filmmaker projects with approximately $4 million in funding. The overarching goal of LEF New England’s philanthropic investment is to help build a sustainable and strong community of support for artists and their work.
Deadline: June 19, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. ET
READ MORE: The Best Documentary Filmmaking Advice from Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
Points North Fellowship
About the Program: The Points North Fellowship is a unique opportunity for five documentary filmmakers (or filmmaking teams) to develop their feature-length works-in-progress through a combination of focused industry mentorship, workshops, meetings and a public pitch session at the Camden International Film Festival.
Deadline: July 24, 2015 at midnight, ET
Sundance Documentary Fund
About the Program: The Sundance Documentary Fund provides strategic financial support to
cinematic, feature documentaries from independent filmmakers globally.
We provide $1M-$2M in non-recoupable financing annually across all
stages of development, production, post-production and strategic
Deadline: August 3, 2015
National Endowment for the Humanities, Division of Public Programs – Media Projects: Development Grants
About the Program: NEH’s Division of Public Programs supports activities that engage millions of Americans in understanding significant humanities works and ideas. At the center of every NEH-funded public humanities project is a core set of humanities ideas developed by scholars, matched to imaginative formats that bring those ideas to life for people of all ages and all walks of life. Projects must be analytical and deeply grounded in humanities scholarship in a discipline such as history, religion, anthropology, jurisprudence, or art history. NEH is a national funding agency, so the projects we support must demonstrate the potential to attract a broad, general audience. We welcome humanities projects tailored to particular groups, such as families, youth (including K-12 students), teachers, seniors, at-risk communities and veterans, but they should also strive to cultivate a more inclusive audience.
Deadline: August 12, 2015
MacArthur Foundation Documentary Film Grant
About the Program: MacArthur’s goal in media grantmaking is to provide the public with high-quality, professionally-produced documentary films, deep and analytical journalism, and well-produced news and public affairs programming. In a media environment characterized by proliferating information sources of varying degrees of reliability, the Foundation seeks to support serious, fact-based journalism for television, radio and the web, the type of original reporting that is likely to be blogged about, linked to, tweeted and otherwise circulated throughout the Internet. Programs supported by the Foundation inform and educate their viewers about important and under-reported topics, provide balance and accurate information, encourage global conversations and use technology to tell stories in engaging and interactive ways.
Deadline: September 1, 2015