This might just be the best time of year to apply for grants: not only will you find yourself daydreaming about your next projects over the holidays, but there are also a slew of grant opportunities opening up that can make those daydreams a reality.
The following grants, labs, and pitch opportunities are organized by deadline from December through February. (If you’re looking for a different granting season, visit our lists for Spring, Summer, or Fall.) An asterisk next to the grant title means there is an equivalent grant for both doc and narrative. To find out more specifics on a grant, click on the title and get started!
With 2014 grants ranging from $20,000 to $30,000 per project, this grant for documentary features in the post-production stage from the San Francisco Film Society would be a major boon to any recipient. From SFFS:
The SFFS Documentary Film Fund supports riveting documentaries in postproduction distinguished by compelling stories, intriguing characters and an innovative visual approach. Since 2011, more than $375,000 has been disbursed to documentary filmmakers nationwide.
Deadline: December 15
The National Endowment for the Humanities is the big daddy of government support for documentaries that address the humanities. The application process isn’t easy (you need an experienced team, a non-profit organization or fiscal sponsor, two humanities advisors, and a lengthy application — Ken Burns’ project descriptions are rumored to have been around 40 pages), but the payoff is worth it: one to three year grants in the $100,000 to $650,000 range. From NEH:
NEH encourages projects that feature multiple formats to engage the public in the exploration of humanities ideas. Film and television projects may be single programs or a series addressing significant figures, events, or ideas and drawing their content from humanities scholarship. They must be intended for national distribution. The program welcomes projects ranging in length from short-form to broadcast-length video.
Deadline: January 14
Like the above production grants, the development grants are for documentaries that address topics in the humanities, and the application process is just as extensive. The awards range from $40,000 to $75,000. From NEH:
Development grants enable media producers to collaborate with scholars to develop humanities content and to prepare programs for production. Grants should result in a script or a design document and should also yield a detailed plan for outreach and public engagement in collaboration with a partner organization or organizations.
Deadline: January 14
For documentary filmmakers that have an Australian doc with international funding who are looking to finance their projects (and who have an international sales agent) and wish to get up to $30,000, try Screen Australia:
Screen Australia’s Documentary Development program assists experienced documentary makers to achieve planned outcomes for the development of their projects. This could include further research, writing the next draft of a script or treatment, strategic shooting and/or editing to attract marketplace development or production finance, or compiling a sizzle reel. The program is primarily focused on providing development support to one-off projects.
Deadline: January 23
The TFI Latin America Media Fund seeks out Latin American and Caribbean filmmakers of all genres for guidance and $10,000 in production or post-production. From TFI:
The TFI Latin America Media Arts Fund seeks feature-length scripted, documentary, animated or hybrid films that are story-driven and in the advanced stages of development, production or post-production with no existing US or Latin American distribution in place. The Fund recognizes and supports projects that take stylistic risks and are unconventional in form and content, but that above all else position the story as the driving force of the film. In short, the TFI Latin America Media Arts Fund looks for films that bravely push the boundaries of artistic storytelling and show a new & exhilarating side to the Latino identity. Please refer to our list of previous grantees to help a better idea of the types of films we fund.
Deadline: February 5
The Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund supports 4-10 feature-length documentaries the highlight issues of social importance in the range of $10,000 – $25,000. This year, 2-5 additional grants will be provided for docs about extraordinary women. From TFI:
Funded films will be driven by thoughtful and in-depth storytelling, bolstered by a compelling visual approach. TheKering Foundation has joined the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund to offer the Spotlighting Women Documentary Award, which provides funding to two-five additional feature documentaries that illuminate the courage, compassion, extraordinary strength of character and contributions of women from around the world. For films, based anywhere, that are in production or post-production with the intended premiere exhibition.
Deadline: February 5