Film and documentary Grants For Filmmakers for Short Film Funding – One of the most critical parts of film production is finance since the team needs money to pay for everything from the fees of actors to equipment costs. There is no doubt obtaining funds for a film project can be a daunting task for a lot of filmmakers throughout the United States of America. Fortunately, there are financial assistance programs at every level to get your documentary film project funded.
If you’re new to the filmmaking industry then you need to explore the available resources to find suitable opportunities for yourself. Documentaries are films that bear witness to issues of social justice, human rights, freedom of expression and civil liberties that bring forth truth in numerous ways and create a profound impact on the lives of individuals and the community as a whole.
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Highlights of this Post
What Are The Eligibility Criteria To Qualify For Documentary Film Grants?
There are many documentary film grants out there but most of them have common requirements such as the following:
- Documentary filmmakers must be 18 years of age or older.
- The documentary filmmakers must have at least one completed documentary film to show
- The filmmaker must be living and legally able to work in the United States. Grants to non-US citizens or non-US residents may be subject to mandatory US government withholding.
- The filmmaker must own the copyright of their production and maintain the editorial control of the documentary.
- The proposed project should be completed within a stipulated time frame as decided by the program
- The documentary film should be of original content
- Must provide a proposal that includes information about the director, film and cast including the timeline and budget
- The project budget should be within program limitations
- Must submit a completed script or film treatment, sample work, detailed project and the proposal outlining the purpose and vision of the documentary film project.
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How To Apply For Documentary Film Grants?
Make An Artist Statement and Film Treatment
Artist statement is a one or two-page letter that introduces you and your film project. You need to have an artist statement to submit along with your application to the grant-giving committee.
You also need to have a film treatment for your project. You need to sum up your story about the film in one or two pages and make it creative. Once you have completed your film treatment you can fill out the application form. Film treatment comprises details about the title, logline, characters and synopsis.
Budget Your Documentary
The next step is to make a documentary budget to show how you are planning to use the funds in your project. It is necessary to make a proposed budget for your project. The grant-giving authority who will review the grant application of your documentary project will likely know about your budget first.
Submit The Application Form
The next step is to submit the application form within the deadline. You must try to include a mood board which is a vital component that will boost your chance to secure funding for your film project.
It will throw light on the vision of your project and make it clear to the readers. Before submitting the grant application proofread and if possible include visual evidence of your film style and standards of filmmaking to push your project to the front of the line.
What Are The Materials Required To Apply For The Documentary Film Grants?
Below is the breakdown of the materials or documents needed to submit along with your application for documentary film grants.
- A brief description about the documentary film through character, plot, theme and/or setting.
- A film treatment giving a clear sense of the beginning, middle and end of the film story
- A director statement providing insight into who you are and your project
- Description of the script of your short film project
- A full budget that includes the expense and revenue of the short film project
- Supporting materials like storyboard or script, previously completed work linked to film publicly exhibited or distributed
- Links to your previous work
- Recommendation letter and CV
- Personal documents like US citizenship, Social Security card etc.
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What Are The Different Sources To Get Your Documentary Film Funded?
There are a variety of sources to obtain funding for your documentary movies that you can take advantage of and launch your project. Following is the curated list of funding options that are available to documentary filmmakers.
Self-funding for documentary films is self-explanatory and a lot of filmmakers invest their savings or resources to make films, particularly first-timers. A lot of well-established filmmakers also prefer this way as you get control of your film without any interference or commercial exploitation.
The US government provides funding to cultural and arts projects. There are a lot of filmmaking grants and fellowship programs available for filmmakers including documentary filmmakers.
The best thing about applying for government grants is that you need not pay them back however there is intense competition and a long complicated application procedure to be eligible for this grant funding. For instance National Endowment For The Arts.
One of the best ways to finance your film if you’re not eligible for government grants is crowdfunding. The best part is crowdfunding campaigns help you to raise funds simultaneously while building an audience base.
Following at the list of crowdfunding platforms that documentary filmmakers can apply:
When the production money gets funds before the film’s completion by distributing selling rights or distribution format to various territories it is known as pre-sales funding. The documentary filmmaker can obtain pre-sales funding by packaging the film and including the script, details of directors, cast, producer, crew and sales projections.
A method in which the documentary filmmaker agrees to feature a brand or particular product in their film is known as product placement and in return, they get money or products to be used as props.
Private investors refer to entrepreneurs who want to diversify their investment portfolio and they’re also referred to as equity investors. You can look for private investors or Angel investors to seek their guidance and to obtain funding. The biggest disadvantage is that you need to pay them back.
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What Are The Different Documentary Film Grants For Filmmakers?
The purpose behind MacArthur’s media grants is simple. They aim to amaze the audience with well-developed news and public affairs programming, professional-quality documentaries, and informed and analytical-based journalism.
Being around the entertainment industry which is run by a plethora of knowledge outsourced from several origins and its varied magnitudes of dependability, MacArthur organization only filters out the crucial and accurate journalism for TV, web, and radio since they support solely original and ethical news being broadcasted on the internet and its platforms like Twitter, blogger, and others.
Creative Capital is a national artist service organization that offers help to individual artists with the application procedure. Grants from Creative Capital support various categories that are visual arts, performing arts, innovative literature, film/video and other emerging fields.
The Independent Television Service Open Call also offers funding to individual non-fiction public television programs on any type of subject from any desired angle. It is also important for the film projects to start their production and also share work in progress video. However, open call funding is only available to those independent producers who are citizens and legal residents of the United States.
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is an independent federal agency that provides funding to support the arts in the United States. Through its Media Arts program, the NEA provides grants to support the production of documentary films, including those related to education and music.
The NEA’s Media Arts program offers two types of grants: production grants and distribution grants.
- Production grants provide funding for the production of new works, including those in the planning, research, and development stages.
- Distribution grants provide funding for the distribution and promotion of completed works.
The NEA also has a focus on supporting underrepresented communities, artists, and perspectives, so they consider projects that focus on diverse subjects and stories.
The Hubert Bals Fund provides financial assistance to groundbreaking film projects in every stage of the production process and works with filmmakers from countries where local infrastructure and film funding are restrictive or lacking.
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The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program provides financial assistance to nonfiction filmmakers across the world in the production of cinematic documentaries on contemporary themes. Founded in 2002 with the support from the Open Society Foundation this program today is a vibrant global resource for independent nonfiction storytelling.
Every year lots of filmmakers including documentary film makers get assistance to launch their projects. The program considers non-fiction filmmaking as a collaborative art form and provides artist-centered process-driven support in the form of creative labs that support producers, editors and directors.
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A small grant funding up to $25,000 from Bertha Film Fund is available for documentary filmmakers especially those who are making social justice filmmaking in the field of cinema, digital media and video.
The funds are available for long or short-form films and new media development for production and post-production stage with fiction and nonfiction.
The main preference is given to non-extractive and generative storytelling, storytelling that shows authentic resistance narratives, diverse production teams representative of the protagonist communities, and storytelling with calls to action that engage audiences, change makers and share stories that are dangerous to tell.
The California Documentary Project is a competitive grant program that aims to support documentary film, digital media production, and audio that explore California in all its complexity and narrate stories from every corner of the state.
The project must use the humanities to provide depth, context and perspective and must be suitable for national and California audiences.
The funding is available in three categories: production grants up to $50,000, research and development grants up to $15,000 and CDP Next Gen grants up to $15,000. The CDP Next Gen. grant supports emerging documentary media makers who are 18 years or below in age.
The Royal W. Dean Grant funds documentaries, short films and independent features that are below the budget of $500,000.
The documentary project must be unique and make a contribution to society such as stories about little-known subjects, films that can touch people’s hearts, historical films etc. The main criterion to win a grant through this foundation is to have a story that can change, enrich and heal our lives.
Catapult Film Fund
The Catapult Film Fund offers funding related to production purposes especially to the documentary filmmakers who have an inspiring story to tell. Their main mission is to help the filmmakers to take their film projects to the next level when getting funds becomes quite difficult.
The Chicken & Egg Pictures
The Chicken & Egg Pictures is an organization that provides grants and mentorship to female non-fiction filmmakers, including those working on education and music-related projects. They are committed to supporting women and non-binary filmmakers at all stages of their careers.
They provide two types of grants: Open grants and Accelerator Lab grants, the Open grants are for filmmakers in the early stages of their projects and the Accelerator Lab grants are for filmmakers in the advanced stages of their projects.
Cinereach mainly supports feature length nonfiction and feature films at every stage of development that represent underrepresented perspectives. It must also be appealing across international borders. But it is important for every filmmaker to have 501 ©3 tax sponsors.
The Fledgling Fund
The Fledgling Fund mainly offers support to innovative media projects that have the ability to play a critical role in improving or enhancing sparking social changes. The main focus of their creative media initiative is to outreach and engage the community.
There are mainly three types of grants that are outreach and community engagement, innovative creative media for using new technology to attract new audiences and grants for films in late state post production.
Rooftop Filmmakers Fund Grants
Rooftop Filmmakers Fund is offered to most of the filmmakers who have screened a film in Rooftop Films in New York. There are also cash grants for documentary and short films and they also help with design and post production grants for the films that are featured.
The Jerome Foundation
The Jerome Foundation contributes to the culture by offering various types of support regarding creation, development and production of new film projects by aspiring artists. Apart from that the foundation also offers grants to nonprofit arts organization artists that are living in New York City and Minnesota.
Pacific Pioneer Fund
The Pacific Pioneer Fund offers support to emerging documentary filmmakers who are living and working in Washington, Oregon or California. The term “aspiring” means a person who has highly dedicated himself in documentary filmmaking but committing himself for many years. But remember it must not be more than 10 years.
The Frameline Completion Fund
The Frameline Completion Fund also offers grants to the filmmakers that are emerging and well established.
Apart from that the program also offers financial contributions to those artists who are struggling to secure funding to complete their project. The grants generally range from $1000 to $5000 for the projects that mainly reflect and depict LGBTQ life and have a positive impact in the community.
The Ford Foundation
The Ford Foundation was started in the year 2011 and it has invested around $10 million each year for 5 consecutive years in mostly documentary funding projects that mainly addresses social issues and also helps in understanding the past, exploring the present and building the future. Their main goal is to expand the community of the established and emerging filmmakers who are unable to get funds to complete their work and reach out to the audiences.
A trusted partner for emerging, veteran and first-time documentary producers throughout the United States of America is the Southern Documentary Fund which helps eligible recipients direct their microphones and lenses at powerful Southern stories and critical issues.
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FilmMakers Without Borders provides grant funding for short and lengthy documentary films at different stages of production like development, production post-production or distribution that align with women’s voices, themes of social justice, identity, youth voices, cultural exchange or climate change. The award amount is high up to $5000.
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The American Documentary and Animation Film Festival (Amdocs) is a nonprofit entity that creates a forum to promote and celebrate documentary films as well as independent filmmakers across the globe who bring awareness and knowledge to their stories about real issues and people.
It has been recognized internationally as a critical venue for film-makers and ranks in the top 1% of more than 12,000 film festivals across the globe.
The objective is to further documentary film education and awareness and carry out outreach activities including Amdocs Film Fund pitch competitions where the American documentary filmmakers can participate, submit proposals and compete for financing for their projects.
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Documentaries are nonfiction filmmaking that emphasizes education, reality or historical record. There are amazing documentary grants out there for filmmakers on a variety of subjects. Documentary movies are one of the best and most effective ways to note the experiences of everyday people. Making a documentary film is not a cakewalk and film-makers have to invest a lot of effort, time and their finances. A lot of filmmakers go through the challenges of investing or managing funds. Fortunately today there are tons of documentary grants available. I hope the sources mentioned above in this article will help you to make your documentary film.
Learn more about government grants and assistance programs that can improve your living situation at the Get Government Grants’ section today. Our resources will help you to find the right type of support based on your needs and requirements.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there any documentary grants for film funding?
Yes, there are documentary grants for film funding to those filmmakers who are struggling to find finances for their projects. But remember there are some eligibility requirements and application procedures that you need to follow to qualify for the grants.
What are some documentary grants that can be of great help?
There are many organizations that are offering documentary grants to aspiring and established artists that includes: The Jerome Foundation, Southern Documentary Fund, Sundance Institute Documentary Grants and many more. But be sure to apply for those grants that perfectly fits your project.