Grants & Awards
These resources are meant to assist filmmakers at any stage of the funding, production, or distribution process. Our lists are by no means exhaustive, and some resources listed may become out of date. These pages will continue to evolve over time. We welcome your suggestions and corrections.
Funding & Support
The Alter-Ciné Foundation - Offers a yearly grant to young film and video makers from Africa, Asia and Latin America to direct a documentary film on the theme of rights and freedoms, including social and economic rights, women’s rights, the right to culture and artistic creation. The Foundation particularly supports documentary films that dare to go against the tide, that take the side of the defenceless and question common assumptions by giving a voice to the voiceless, enriching our understanding of the world and helping us reflect on the possibility of changing the world from a perspective of peace, justice, equality and respect for differences.
Animal Content in Entertainment - The Humane Society presents an annual Animal Content in Entertainment (ACE) Documentary Film Grant for films with a focus on animal advocacy. A $20,000 grand prize is given to a filmmaker who most successfully merges animal issues with a compelling narrative. Documentary filmmakers who apply for the ACE grant may be at any stage of development or production. In addition to the cash prize, the ACE program also provides promotion and distribution support to granted films. Writers, producers, and directors can also use ACE as a resource for fact-checking, stock footage, referrals to experts, and script consulting.
Berkeley Film Foundation – A grant program for independent filmmakers with a mission to nurture, sustain and preserve the thriving Berkeley, CA film community. The Berkeley Film Foundation supports the ideals reflected in Berkeley’s culture by providing grants for social, historical and innovative documentary and dramatic works.
Bertha BritDoc Documentary Journalism Fund – The new Bertha BRITDOC Fund for Journalism is an international film fund dedicated to supporting long form feature documentaries of a journalistic nature. This new fund recognises such films are often delicate and protracted, making them difficult to fund. With a mission to enable in-depth analysis of issues through long-form investigative filmmaking, they are particularly looking to work with filmmakers with a journalistic background or those who are collaborating with journalists. It is key that the journalistic intent is embedded within the film itself rather than the film simply being about a journalist or journalistic institution. Funding is awarded on a rolling basis and grants from £5,000 to £50,000 are available.
Cal Humanities - A non-profit that promotes the humanities in California to help create “a state of open mind.” They produce, fund, and support cultural experiences in media, literature, and discussion programs. Its California Documentary Project Grant is a competitive grants program that supports documentary film, radio, and new media productions that enhance understanding of California and its cultures, peoples, and histories.
Catapult Film Fund – Catapult Film Fund was founded by Lisa Kleiner Chanoff and Bonni Cohen in 2010 and provides early funding to documentary filmmakers who have a compelling story to tell, have secured access to their story and are ready to shoot and edit a trailer/reel for production fundraising purposes. They support powerful stories, and moving storytelling, across a broad spectrum of issues and perspectives.
Center for Asian-American Media – CAAM Media Fund awards funding to film and media projects through their Documentary Completion Fund. Their James T. Yee Fellowship offers mentorship and funding for emerging documentary filmmakers with films intended for public television, and their CAAM Fellowship Program caters to both fiction and non-fiction media makers, seeking to develop the talents and skills of a range of media professions including filmmakers, actors, programmers, and executives.
Chicken & Egg Pictures – Chicken & Egg Pictures supports women filmmakers, emergent and veteran, nonfiction and fiction, that address the social justice and human rights issues of our time. The primary objective is to support the creation of socially conscious, entertaining and deeply resonant films by providing strategic financial, creative and producing support at pivotal stages in the life of a film and the career of a gifted woman filmmaker – who views herself as much an artist as she is an activist.
CPH: DOX - Scandinavia’s largest annual documentary festival, concurrently holds the three-day CPH: Forum. The Forum is an international financing event that brings together sales agents and distributors with film projects seeking financiers. The filmmakers pitch, have one-on-one meetings, and attend informal networking events. The Forum seeks film project proposals in the following categories: (a) FictionNonFiction – challenging films working in the hybrid landscape, (b) Cinema – high end theatrical documentaries with international distribution potential and (c) Art – film projects conceived to be screened within visual arts institutions.
Creative Capital – Creative Capital acts as a catalyst for the development of adventurous and imaginative ideas by artists whose work is provocative, timely, and relevant; who are deeply engaged with their art forms and demonstrate a rigorous commitment to their craft, yet are also boldly original and push the boundaries of their genre; who create thrilling, indefinable, artistically omnivorous work that carries the potential to reshape the cultural landscape. Unlike most other arts grantmaking organizations, Creative Capital makes a multi-year commitment to the artists we support, remaining involved over the lives of their projects (on average, between three and five years).
The Doha Film Institute (DFI) – DFI is dedicated to film appreciation, education, and building a dynamic film industry in Qatar that focuses on nurturing regional storytellers while being entirely global in its scope. They also annually provide grants over two cycles for filmmakers from Middle Eastern and North African countries. The Spring application typically opens in late December and the Fall application in early June. In addition, co-production proposals for larger scale MENA projects and international projects are accepted on a rolling basis.
Downtown Community Television (DCTV) – DCTV believes that expanding public access to the electronic media arts invigorates our nation’s democracy. Founded in 1972 by Jon Alpert and Keiko Tsuno, DCTV has fostered a diverse and inclusive media arts community for over 30 years. DCTV pursues its educational mission by introducing members of the community to the basics of electronic media through hundreds of free or low-cost production courses and access to broadcast-quality production equipment. Over the past 35 years DCTV has taught over 50,000 students, most of them members of low-income and minority communities, the essentials of television production. DCTV offers over 150 low-cost video and electronic media training workshops to 2,000 students a year. DCTV’s members rely on DCTV’s facilities to produce new and innovative work that truly reflects the points of view of all constituents in our society.
Eastern European Forum – The East European Forum organized by the Institute of Documentary Film is the largest annual meeting for Eastern European documentary filmmakers, editors, distributors and buyers. A select number of projects by directors and producers, from the East and Central European region, are chosen after an application round. These filmmakers have the opportunity to attend workshops, round tables, networking events and pitching sessions for their documentary projects and present them for co-production and pre-sale financial support.
Film Independent – Each year, Film Independent awards a number of grants and fellowships to help filmmakers with projects at a range of stages, as well as to recognize them for past accomplishments.
The Fledgling Fund – The Fledgling Fund seeks to improve the lives of vulnerable individuals, families, and communities by supporting innovative media projects that target entrenched social problems. With approximately $1.5 million in funding disbursed annually, The Fledgling Fund is interested in making strategic grants and investments that help fledgling projects take flight.
Ford Foundations JustFilms – JustFilms partners with major film and public media organizations to help broaden the reach of their films and provide professional development opportunities. Beginning in 2011, they are investing $10 million a year over five years in documentary projects that address urgent social issues and help us understand our past, explore our present and build our future.
Free103point9 – free103point9 offers distribution grants for New York State Artists providing support for the distribution of new works in film, video, sound, new-media, and media-installation. Funding is available from free103point9 through a regrant from New York State Council on the Arts’ Electronic Media and Film Program. Grant awards will assist artists in making works available to public audiences and may include, but are not limited to: moving image and sound works; duplication of preview, screening and exhibition copies; promotional materials including documentation and schematics of media-installation and new-media works. The rental or purchase of equipment essential for exhibition/distribution by individual artists is also eligible. Artists may request funding support up to a maximum amount of $10,000.
The Fund for Women Artists - The Fund for Women Artists is a non-profit 501(c)(3) arts service organization dedicated to helping women artists get the resources they need to do their creative work. Created in 1994 by Martha Richards, the organization has raised over $4 million and created a website that provides free networking, fundraising and advocacy services to over 500,000 visitors a year. The Fund for Women Artists offers the following services and programs at this time: Support Women Artists Now Day/SWAN Day, The WomenArts Network, Funding Resources.
The Global Film Initiative - The Global Film Initiative was created to promote cross-cultural understanding through the medium of cinema. Although American film continues to thrive in the global marketplace, developing world filmmaking has suffered from shifting economic conditions in film financing and distribution. As a result, audiences in the United States have been denied the rich cultural lessons these films have to offer. The Initiative has developed four complementary programs, all involving film from the developing world, to address this situation: Granting, Acquisitions, Distribution, Education. The Initiative will be awarding 10-20 grants of up to $10,000 per year.
The Good Pitch – The Good Pitch is a unique opportunity for a selected group of filmmakers to pitch both their film and its associated outreach campaign to an invited audience of participants, comprising foundations, NGOs, campaigners, advertising agencies, brands and media in order to maximise its impact; presented by Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation and the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program.
Hubert Bals Fund – The Hubert Bals Fund is an initiative of the International Film Festival Rotterdam designed to bring remarkable or urgent feature films by innovative and talented filmmakers from developing countries closer to completion. The HBF provides grants that often turn out to play a crucial role in enabling these filmmakers to realize their projects.It is essential that the filmmaker is a citizen and lives and works in a developing country as mentioned in the DAC-List. The Fund gives financial support twice a year, with application deadlines on March 1 and August 1.
IDFA Bertha Fund – The IDFA Bertha Fund, formerly known as the Jan Vrijman Fund, supports documentary filmmakers and festivals in developing countries. Its goal is to stimulate local film cultures and to turn the creative documentary into a truly global film art. . In addition to individual film projects, the Fund also supports projects that promote local documentary production and distribution in general, such as workshops, documentary film festivals and educational programs. The Fund not only provides financial support, but also plays an advisory role. Creative documentaries and documentary events from non-Western countries can submit applications for financial support in two rounds each year, with deadlines on 1 February and 15 May.
Independent Feature Project (IFP) – After debuting with a program in the 1979 New York Film Festival, the nonprofit IFP has evolved into the nation’s oldest and largest organization of independent filmmakers, and also the premier advocate for them. Since its start, IFP has supported the production of 7,000 films and provided resources to more than 20,000 filmmakers–voices that otherwise might not have been heard. IFP fosters the development of 200 feature and documentary films a year through the Independent Filmmaker Labs, IFP Independent Filmmaker Lab Finishing Grants, Independent Film Week and other activities. Taking place concurrently with Independent Film Week, the Independent Filmmaker Conference addresses creative initiatives, critical technology, current issues and global market place trends through diverse panel discussions, case studies and keynotes. IFP builds the audience for independent films by showcasing them in collaboration with other cultural institutions and celebrating them with the Gotham Awards, the first honors of the film awards season.
Impact Partners – Impact Partners is committed to financing independent cinema that addresses pressing social issues. They bring together financiers and filmmakers so that, together, they can create great films that entertain audiences, enrich lives, and ignite social change.
The Indie Film Clinic – The Indie Film Clinic provides free legal services to qualifying New York filmmakers producing independent, documentary, and student films. All clients of the Clinic are represented free of charge on a range of legal issues critical to any production, including: copyright research, registrations, and assignments; guild registrations; drafting and negotiating writer’s agreements, employment agreements, and intellectual property licenses; location agreements and permits; depiction releases; and more.
Independent Television Service (ITVS) – ITVS funds, distributes and promotes new programs primarily for public television. They work with independent producers to create and present programs that take creative risks, advance issues and represent points of view not usually seen on public or commercial television. ITVS is committed to programming that addresses the needs of underserved and underrepresented audiences.
Jerome Foundation – The Jerome Foundation, created by artist and philanthropist Jerome Hill, makes grants to support the creation and production of new artistic works by emerging artists living in Minnesota and New York City.
Latino Public Broadcasting – Latino Public Broadcasting supports the development, production, acquisition and distribution of non-commercial educational and cultural television that is representative of Latino people, or addresses issues of particular interest to Latino Americans. These programs are produced for dissemination to the public broadcasting stations and other public telecommunication entities.
LEF Foundation – LEF Foundation was incorporated in California in 1985 and endowed by a gift made by its president, Marion E. Greene, and her family. LEF is committed to providing support for provocative and innovative projects. LEF seeks to identify and promote creative ventures and to sponsor work that challenges its audience with new ways of perceiving the world. LEF Foundation operates within two regional areas: California and New England. The goal of LEF New England is to fund the work of independent film and video artists in the region and broaden recognition and support for their work locally and nationally. LEF New England launched the Moving Image Fund (MIF) in 2002 to support independent film and video artists creating work in all genres. In the current transition from a broader to a more defined funding strategy, LEF will focus its funding on documentary filmmaking, with the goal of applying the learning from this deeper investment in one genre.
MacArthur Foundation – The MacArthur Foundation accepts proposals for documentary film funding through its Media, Culture, and Special Initiatives program. Proposed documentary film projects should address timely social issues and/or explore underrepresented subject matter. The projects must be helmed by experienced filmmakers based in the United States. Applicants must also apply through a nonprofit or a for-profit incorporated entity, as the Foundation does not fund individuals or fiscal sponsors. Funding typically ranges between $100,000 and $200,000.
The Mountainfilm Commitment Grant- This new source of funding will go to filmmakers, photographers, artists adventurers, writers and explorers whose projects are intended to move audiences to action on issues that matter. It consists of five cash grants of up to $5,000 each. It is currently open to past Mountainfilm filmmakers or guest presenters, or applicants recommended by Mountainfilm filmmakers or guest presenter. Mountainfilm will also partner with industry professionals to help deepen the impact of each recipient project. LOI deadline in June; full applications due August 31.
National Black Programming Consortium – Founded in 1979, the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) develops, produces and funds media content about the Black experience for public media outlets, including television, digital radio and online. Since 1991, NBPC has invested more than $10 million dollars in iconic documentary content for public media outlets, including PBS and PBS.org; trained, mentored and supported a diverse array of producers who create content about contemporary black experiences; and emerged as a leader in the evolving next-media landscape. NBPC distributes engaging content online at BlackPublicMedia.org and via broadcast through its AfroPoP: The Utimate Cultural Exchange documentary series. NBPC has a legacy of proudly supporting producers and digital media storytellers who represent the global Black experience. It aims to provide funding and distribution within their affiliated public media networks. Their executive producers review and consider films for distribution on a rolling basis. They give priority to films that are current and relevant depicting black life and experience in a unique and often overlooked context, largely ignored by popular culture and films.
Native American Public Telecom (NAPT) – NAPT exists to serve Native producers and Indian country in partnership with public television and radio. NAPT works with Native producers to develop, produce and distribute educational telecommunications programs for all media including public television and public radio. NAPT supports training to increase the number of American Indians and Alaska Natives producing quality public broadcasting programs, which includes advocacy efforts promoting increased control and use of information technologies and the policies to support this control by American Indians and Alaska Natives.
National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)/Bridging Cultures Through Film: International Topics – The Bridging Cultures through Film: International Topics program supports projects that examine international and transnational themes in the humanities through documentary films. These projects are meant to spark Americans’ engagement with the broader world by exploring one or more countries and cultures outside of the United States. Proposed documentaries must be analytical and deeply grounded in humanities scholarship. The Division of Public Programs encourages the exploration of innovative nonfiction storytelling that presents multiple points of view in creative formats. The proposed film must range in length from a stand-alone broadcast hour to a feature-length documentary.
New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) – NYFA’s mission is to empower artists at critical stages in their creative lives. NYFA is the largest provider of grants, services, and information to artists working in all disciplines in the United States. NYFA has also begun a consulting program for filmmakers to schedule one-on-one sessions with producers, programmers and distributors in the industry. Filmmakers will get feedback on works-in-progress, web content, grant applications and screenplays from these consultations. Each consultation costs $35 dollars and a filmmaker can schedule up to three, 25-minute consultations on each consultation date.
New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) – NYSCA is dedicated to preserving and expanding the rich and diverse cultural resources that are and will become the heritage of New York’s citizens. The Council believes in supporting artistic excellence and the creative freedom of artists without censure, and the rights of all New Yorkers to access and experience the power of the arts and culture, and the vital contribution the arts make to the quality of life in New York communities. NYSCA strives to achieve its mission through its core grant-making activity and accepts grant proposals each March from nonprofit organizations incorporated in New York State. NYSCA is organized into discipline programs, each of which receives funding requests in a specific arts discipline or field.
The New York Times - The New York Times (NYT) has launched a new initiative for documentary filmmakers to create short videos for the NYT website to serve as a “visual equivalent of Op Ed pieces.” These shorts should bring an innovative and informative perspective on timely issues and can take on a variety of different styles (verite, archival, animation). Submissions should be sent to [email protected]
Pacific Pioneer Fund – The Pacific Pioneer Fund supports emerging documentary filmmakers. Grants range between $1,000-$10,000, and are limited to filmmakers or videographers who live and work in California, Oregon and Washington. The board meets three times a year, and applications are accepted on an ongoing basis.
Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund – The fund supports full-length documentary films that reflect the spirit and nature of Pare Lorentz’s work, exhibiting objective research, artful storytelling, strong visual style, high production values, artistic writing, outstanding music composition, as well as skillful direction, camerawork and editing. A program of the International Documentary Association, the Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund is made possible by The New York Community Trust.
Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting – The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting provides travel grants to cover hard costs associated with upcoming travel for an international reporting project. Their ideal project uses multi-media platforms that combine print/photography and video to explore the issues. Please note that they are not currently accepting submissions for video-only projects. The Center funds international travel costs associated with reporting projects on topics and regions of global importance, with an emphasis on issues that have gone unreported or under-reported in the mainstream American media. The amount of individual travel grants will depend on the specific project and detailed budget planning. Most awards fall in the range of $2,000 to $10,000 but depending on project specifics may be as much as $20,000.
Roy W. Dean Film & Writing Grants – Started in 1992 by Carole Dean, From the Heart Productions is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to funding films that are “unique and make a contribution to society”. Their budget ceiling is $500,000, and they fund shorts, docs and independent features under this amount. You may apply for the New York City or Los Angeles grants no matter where you live.
San Francisco Film Society (SFFS) – SFFS has several different grant programs for fiction and nonfiction projects. The Kenneth Rainin Foundation Filmmaking Grant disburses annual grants for narrative feature films that explore human rights, anti-discrimination and other social justice issues of our time. Proposed projects must have a strong connection to the Bay Area. The Hearst Screenwriting Grant supports mid-career screenwriters that are at an early stage of writing a vibrant and innovative script. The Documentary Film Fund supports innovative documentary filmmakers with postproduction funds.
SANAD – SANAD is the development and post-production fund of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival. SANAD provides talented filmmakers from the Arab world with meaningful support from within the region towards the development or completion of their narrative and documentary feature-length films. SANAD supports narratives as well as documentaries, and makes grants of up to 20,000 USD per project for those in development, and of up to 60,000 USD per project for those in post production. There are two open calls for applications each year.
Sundance Film Institute – The Sundance Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to the discovery and development of independent artists and audiences. The Institute’s programs include the annual film festival, Feature Film Program, Documentary Film Program, Creative Producing Initiative, Native American and Indigenous Program, and more. Types of support offered and application guidelines vary between programs; please visit the Sundance Institute’s website for more information.
Sundance Artists Services – Exclusive opportunities for Sundance Institute alumni in Creative Funding, Distribution, Marketing and Theatrical Support.
Tax Incentives – Entertainment Partners provides a clickable map to guide producers to production incentives all over the globe.
Tipping Point Film Fund (TPFF) – Film lovers and activists have come together to bring films with a conscience to the big screen. Tipping Point Film Fund is an innovative, not-for-profit fund to help finance the making of documentary films launching in London on 8th July. TPFF is a non-profit co-operative set up to raise funds via donations both big and small from individuals, trusts and organizations who share similar values and ethos. A fund that grows year by year with your support, all donations will go into the fund, spreading your contribution across the ‘slate’ of films TPFF is involved with.
Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) – The Tribeca Film Institute is a 501(c)(3) year-round nonprofit arts organization that empowers working filmmakers through grants, professional development and resources, while also helping underserved New York City students discover independent film and filmmaking. Programs include the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund and TFI Documentary Fund, Tribeca All Access, TFI Latin America Media Arts Fund, TFI New Media Fund and the TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund.
Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA) – VLA delivers legal services and information to over 10,000 members of the arts community each year. VLA plays an important role in educating individual artists, arts professionals within arts and cultural institutions, attorneys, students and the general public about legal and business issues that affect artistic and creative endeavors. The VLA Legal Services Program includes a wide range of services including: the Art Law Line, a legal hotline; the VLA Legal Clinic for VLA members; in-house appointments with VLA staff attorneys; and pro bono placements for low-income artists and nonprofit arts organizations with one of over 1,200 volunteer attorneys.
Women in Film Finishing Fund – The Women In Film Foundation’s Film Finishing Fund (FFF) annually provides cash and in-kind production services to deserving filmmakers needing help to complete their film projects. The only program of its kind in the industry, the projects submitted have a broad range of subject matter and are judged by a committee of top industry professionals. Since the inception of the Fund in 1985, the Foundation has awarded more than $2 million in cash and in-kind services to 170 films. Cash awards range from $1,500 to $5,000.
Working Films – Working Films was co-founded by veteran film festival curator and media educator Robert West and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker and organizer Judith Helfand in late 1999. Working Films advances social, economic, environmental and racial justice by linking independent non-fiction media to activism. Working Films is a nonprofit organization available to all independent filmmakers and community organizers. Working Films is neither a production company nor a distributor, and brings together the best, brightest and most committed documentary filmmakers and link their work with innovative organizers and educators.
World Cinema Fund (WCF) – In co-operation with the German Federal Cultural Foundation the Berlin International Film Festival has set up the World Cinema Fund (WCF) to support filmmakers from transition countries. The aim of the WCF is to help the realisation of films which otherwise could not be produced, i.e. feature films and creative feature-length documentaries with a strong cultural identity. The WCF provides support in the fields of production (twice a year) and distribution (bi-monthly). Refer to their website for deadlines and more information.