For documentary filmmakers: Grants available for application between August and December 2017

Posted on 7 July, 2017 by Team Wishberry

Documentary filmmaking is riddled with many problems and lack of funds is one of them. However, as a documentary filmmaker, you need to keep a tab on funds and grants that are out there and help documentary filmmakers complete their projects. The funds/ grants range from pre-production grants to post-production and distribution grants.


Visions Sud Est Fund

Deadline: August 3

Grant Amount: For fiction, up to 50,000 Swiss francs for production, or a maximum of 20,000 Swiss francs for post-production. For documentaries the allotted amount is 10'000 Swiss francs for post-production.

This Swiss Fund accepts applications from Asia, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe and guarantees their distribution in Switzerland.

Following are some of the rules stated by the fund:

  • Support of the production of fictional films on the basis of documents attesting to the feasibility of the project (at the minimum 30% of the financing have to be already acquired before submitting a request).

  • Support of the finishing (post-production) of fictional and documentary films on the basis of a first cut and a finishing concept.

  • A fictional film project will be supported with a maximum of 50'000 Swiss francs for production or a maximum of 20'000 Swiss francs for post-production. A documentary will be supported with a maximum of 10'000 Swiss francs for post-production. This support entails the global distribution rights for Switzerland. The amount granted by the visions sud est fund for one single project may not exceed 10% of the fund's means.

Do visit their website for more details.

The Alter-Ciné Foundation

Deadline: August 14

Grant Amount: $10,000 (Canadian)

Alter-Cine is perhaps one of the more better known fund for documentary filmmakers. The grant is open to filmmakers residing in Asia, Africa and Latin America and projects that are produced in local languages.

Following are the requirements for the application as per their official website:

  1. Complete the Application Form in French, English or Spanish;

  1. Include a synopsis in French, English, or Spanish (max. 5 pages) that describes the content, characters, situations, theme as well as the treatment and style of the project;

  1. Send a Vimeo link of a previous completed documentary work. If possible the cassette should be sub-titled or versioned in French, English or Spanish. If the work does not exist in any of these three languages, please send a written transcript of the dialogue and narration in one of the three languages.

  1. Include a production budget for the documentary, as well as a financing plan which includes the Foundation grant and other sources of proposed or assured financing;

  1. Present two support letters from partners, NGOs, groups or associations supporting the project

Applications must be sent post paid to the Alter-Ciné Foundation (see the section Contact us). We do not accept applications sent by e-mail. Only applications sent before August 15 of each year (with postal seal) will be accepted. Candidates will be advised of the decisions of the Selection Committee before December 31 of each year.

The grant will be divided in two parts:

  1. The first payment of 6,000 Canadian dollars after the project is selected.

  2. The final payment of 4,000 Canadian dollars on reception of a Betacam and a DVD copy of the completed documentary.

In order to apply to the fund, visit their website.

CrossCurrents Doc Fund

Deadline: Submissions will open on September 27

Grant Amount: $10,000

This is an international fund that is specifically looking for projects between 5 minutes and 50 minutes and which, tell stories of those that are marginalized. The fund is supported by R & M Lang Foundation and administered by Hot Docs.

Follow are the guidelines for those seeking to apply:

  • Primarily for release online or as a web doc/interactive project

  • Short to mid-length works (i.e. 5 to 40 minutes)

  • Low-budget films (i.e. under $100,000 CAD)

  • Majority owned by the applicant

  • In a late stage of development, or in early/mid production

In order to remain updated about the grant, visit their website.

The Roy Dean Grant/From the Heart Productions Grant

Fall Deadline: September 30

Grant Amount: This grant provides $30,000 in-kind services and products for projects under $500,000

Anyone can apply to this fund as long as they have previously completed work or at least a key member of your team has one. The grant operates in three cycles and it is currently looking at projects for the fall cycle.

Following are the guideline stated by the grant:

  • Film, Digital, and Video projects that are unique and benefit society

  • New projects

  • Works-in-progress

  • Length is not a consideration

For more information, visit their website.

The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation For Documentary Photography & Film

Deadline: Submission for 2018 cycle will open on November 1

Grant Amount: $5,000

This prize money is offered to ‘short’ short documentaries of any duration that deal with the ‘human condition’ highlighting “human unrest, forgotten communities, over-exploited people and environments impacted by war, poverty, famine, disease, exploitation and global distress”.

Following is the grant’s guideline for eligible entries:

“All entries must be individual, stand-alone non-fiction documentary films of 10 – 30 minutes in length and must have been completed no earlier than two years prior to the March 31 closing date of the submission call. Film submissions may be either an original subject feature or a historical subject feature. Submissions may be produced in actual occurrence, or employ partial reenactment (if needed), stock footage, stills, animation, stop-motion or other techniques, as long as the emphasis is strictly on fact and not fiction. The film must show real characters and not actors portraying the roles of real characters. Dialogue and narration can be produced in any language. All non-English dialogue and narration must be provided with English subtitles.”

For more information, you can visit their website.

Pulse BRITDOC Genesis Fund

Deadline: Reopens Winter 2017/Spring 2018

Amount: Undeclared

This is a development fund meant for non-fiction long-form stories and is open to filmmakers around the world. According to BRITDOC, the main aim of the fund is to “get your film off the ground” and to help filmmakers make their trailer. The fund provides further opportunities to filmmakers to connect with funders. Moreover, they aim to offer “further funding and a Pulse/BRITDOC co­production offer to at least two of the Genesis grantees.”

Follow this link to get more info about the fund.

Miller / Packan Documentary Film Fund

Deadline: Bi-annual grant/ Winter cycle deadline is November 15

Grant Amount: Total amount of $150,000 awarded to 6 to 10 applications

The Rogovy Foundation supports this funds and it is open to all filmmakers provided they have a fiscal sponsor. Following are some of the guidelines of the fund:

  • The applicant must be the producer and/or director and at least 18 years of age.

  • The film must be feature length of no less than 70 minutes.

  • The film addresses a social issue of recognized significance.

  • The film is commercially viable and capable of reaching a large audience.

  • The project must have IRS 501(c)(3) status or a Fiscal Sponsor.

  • Non-English language films are eligible but must have English subtitles.

  • Student films are ineligible

  • Completed films are ineligible.

Do visit their website for further details.


Catapult Film Fund

Deadline: Rolling

Grant Amount: $5000 to $20,000

Catapult encourages filmmakers with a US 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor to apply for the fund. They look for creative projects and it is a development fund, which means that you can apply for it even at the conceptual stage of your documentary. Following are its guidelines for aspiring applicants:

  • Catapult Film Fund development grants range from $5000 to $20,000.

  • Catapult accepts applicants who can arrange to have a US 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor.

  • Catapult may contact the applicant with questions about the proposal.

  • Grantees must submit two financial reports during the course of the grant period: an interim report, which will accompany a narrative report; and a final financial report to be submitted once the grant is complete.

  • Grantees must submit at the end of the grant period an edited piece that can be used for production fundraising.

  • Catapult Film Fund support must be acknowledged with a tag line and logo–of similar size and stature to other logos in the credits–at the end credits of the film as well as on all publicity and promotional materials relating to the production.

  • Catapult will not return DVDs to applicants.

In order to apply to Catapult, visit their website.

Nextpix/Firstpix Crowdfunding Grant

Deadline: Rolling

Grant Amount: $5,000

This grant is open for narrative features or documentaries as well as animation films that are at least an hour long (1/2 hour for animation). Only directors on their first or second project are eligible to apply and the intended project must carry a humanitarian message.

Following are some of the crowdfunding grant’s guidelines:

nextPix will offer funding of up to 5K through the crowd funding campaign of the filmmaker's choice. nextPix will also publicize the selected project(s) through its own website and may assist filmmakers in promoting their project. We anticipate assisting between 1-3 projects a year.

The most important aspect of this fund is that your project should be crowdfunding while applying to the grant or should have crowdfunded in the past, raised at least 50% and retained the raised funds.

Do visit their website for more details.

The Fledging Fund

Deadline: Rolling

Grant Amount: There are two kinds of grant available through this fund:

Fund for Documentary Film Outreach and Engagement: Between $10,000 and $25,000

Special Fund for Rapid Story Deployment: $2,500-$10,000

The Fledging fund only accepts documentaries that have the potential to inspire social change and are at least in the rough-cut stage. However, before receiving a grant, all applicants must have a fiscal sponsor based in the United States.

Do visit their website for more details.

Sundance Documentary Fund

Deadline: Rolling

Grant Amount: Sundance offers a tiered structure when it comes to documentary grants:

  • Development (up to $20,000): There is no reel required with an application, but clips, teasers, trailers, or images are highly encouraged. A previous work sample is required.

  • Production/Post-Production (up to $40,000): Production/post-production grants provide funds to projects offering 10+ minutes of edited material for the project being proposed. The reel should convey the narrative and aesthetic approach for the final film. A previous sample work must also be included with the application.

  • Audience Engagement (up to $20,000): Audience Engagement grants provide previously granted projects funding for strategic audience and community engagement campaigns.

  • Additional Opportunities by Nomination

One of the most respected platforms for cinema, Sundance changed the game when it announced it rolling deadline for grants.

Do visit the website to know more about their application process.

The Bertha BRITDOC Documentary Journalism Fund

Deadline: Rolling

Grant Amount: Between £5,000 and £50,000

This fund is a blessing in disguise for journalists. The fund supports ideas that aim to fight social injustice unflinchingly, and without any compromise. They grant funds at any stage of production.

Do visit their website for more details.

Bertha BRITDOC Connect Fund

Date: Case sensitive

Grant Amount: Case sensitive

This fund was especially created for grantees of earlier BRITDOC Journalism fund. The aim of this fund is to provide financial support to filmmakers in areas of screenings and distribution, as well as legal advice and support.

You can get more details about the fund here.

JustFilms Ford Foundation

Deadline: Case sensitive

Grant Amount: Case sensitive

The Ford Foundation fund supports films that delve into matters of social injustice and that can positively impact society, especially through emerging media platforms.

Following is the foundation’s core belief: JustFilms projects are inspired by courageous individuals and undaunted communities seeking justice. These powerful stories expand opportunities for civic engagement and affirm the central role of cultural strategies in social transformation.

For further details on their grants’ process, do visit their website.

These are the funds that you can apply to this year. However, some of the other funds will open their doors in 2018. These include the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund, Women In film Finishing Fund and the IDFA Bertha Fund.

We’ll keep you updated about the grants as and when they open.

Cover image courtesy Pixabay

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