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American Documentary Launches Artist Emergency Fund to Assist Filmmakers Facing Hardship

The producers of the PBS series "POV" will offer grants for filmmakers facing health issues, eviction, disasters, and other unforeseen calamities.

American Documentary (AmDoc), the producing company of the PBS series “POV,” has launched a new granting program today that will serve as an emergency fund to help filmmakers who face sudden and unforeseen calamities, such as health issues, eviction, or disasters. The program is being called the Artist Emergency Fund and was created as a direct response to concerns about career sustainability of those working in nonfiction, especially emerging filmmakers and those from underrepresented communities.

“For too many documentary filmmakers, a simple trip to the emergency room can mean years of mounting medical bills,” said Justine Nagan, executive producer/executive director of POV/ American Documentary. “Our aim is to make AmDoc as supportive to filmmakers as possible, while also helping build a more inclusive industry that supports the most vulnerable among us. This type of grant program is common in other artistic disciplines, and it seemed time for filmmakers to have a safety net. It won’t solve the field’s overall sustainability issues, but we hope it’s a step in the right direction.”

In the pilot year, the fund will award one-time grants of up to $1,000 each. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis and reviewed based on demonstration of need and professional relationship to documentary filmmaking. Applicants must reside in the United States and have produced or directed one nonfiction project that has been publicly exhibited in a curated or noncommercial environment. Awarded funds cannot be spent on project-based expenses (film production, travel, research, tuition, or professional development).

Earlier this year, AmDoc also launched a $100,000 fund in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to support filmmakers working in the 26 cities where Knight invests. This new initiative has been seeded by the Chicago Media Project, Genuine Article Pictures, and the Sage Foundation.

For more information about eligibility, criteria, and the application process, click here.

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