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2014 Grant Opportunities Thru May

By Lisa Hasko

Remember the time you were up until the wee hours of the morning the day before a grant deadline? The stress you endured, the pots of coffee you consumed trying to format an unwieldy proposal that just wouldn't behave. What about that time you discovered the perfect grant for your film but realized you'd missed the submission a day?
As we are probably all too aware, not staying abreast of what's happening in the fundraising landscape could result in missed opportunities or unnecessarily driving yourself and your team into a panicked frenzy trying to meet a cramped deadline. How can you minimize this in the future? One idea is to create a quarterly--or even yearly--outline of grant opportunities for which you plan to apply, including deadlines. Think of it as a calendar of opportunities!

When planning your strategy, be sure to give yourself enough lead time to find out of a particular grant is right for you. It's smart to speak with a grant officer at the organization to ensure that your documentary is eligible for the grant. Many foundations have restrictions that might include geographic location, budget size or population served. Taking measure to verify eligibility will save you time and effort in the long run. This is especially the case when thinking of applying to government or state agencies since those grants tend to be pretty intensive. Again, contact a grant officer at the agency. It's well worth the conversation.

As any seasoned filmmaker or fundraising professional will tell you, start planning your fundraising strategy months in advance. To help get you started and stay in the know, we've put together a list of upcoming documentary specific grants. Maybe one or two will end up on your calendar this year!


The Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund will provide annual production grants totaling $95,000 to be used in the creation of original, independent documentary films that illuminate pressing issues in the United States.  Grants will be made to up to 6 projects that tell a compelling story and focus on one of Pare Lorentz’s central concerns—the appropriate use of the natural environment, justice for all or the illumination of pressing social problems.
Deadline: Letter of Intent, March 31, 2014

Catapult Film Fund provides development 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 piece for production fundraising purposes.
Opens December 16, 2013. Deadline: January 31, 2014

The Sundance Institute Documentary Fund is dedicated to supporting nonfiction filmmakers worldwide in the production of cinematic documentaries with contemporary social relevance. Grants ranging from $10,000 – $50,000 are awarded in development and production/post-production categories. Grantees become eligible for year-round artist support activities of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program including creative Documentary Labs, Fellows programs at the Sundance Creative Producing Summit and the Sundance Film Festival, Work-In-Progress screenings, and editorial and creative support.
Deadline: February 4, 2014

Provides finishing funds to feature-length documentaries which highlight and humanize issues of social importance from around the world. For films, based anywhere, that are in production or post-production with the intended premiere exhibition. Grants range from $10,000 to $25,000.
Opens December 5, 2013. Deadline: February 5, 2014

The NFA is a national grant program open to US-based Latino working artists, ensembles and Latino arts organizations that demonstrate artistic excellence in pursuit of social justice through the arts. Grants range from $5,000 to $15,000.
Deadline: February 6, 2014

Supports innovative media projects at an advanced stage, designed to help ignite social change. Seek films that create a specific understanding of social problems and inspiring concrete action. Seek well-structured and creative community engagement initiatives to move people from awareness to action.
Deadline: February 7, 2014

Open Meadows Foundation is a grant-making organization for projects that are led by and benefit women and girls, and that reflect the diversity of the community served by the project in both its leadership and organization. Open Meadows Foundation funds projects in the U.S. and abroad that are run by and for women and girls.
Deadline: February 15, 2014

2014 Fast Track
: Fast Track is a film financing market that takes place during the Los Angeles Film Festival designed to help narrative and documentary filmmakers move their current projects forward.
Deadline: February 24, 2014

The World Cinema Fund works to develop and support cinema in regions with a weak film infrastructure, while fostering cultural diversity in German cinemas. The World Cinema Fund supports films,  either in production or distribution, that could not be made without additional funding: films that stand out with an unconventional aesthetic approach, that tell powerful stories and transmit an authentic image of their cultural roots.
Production Grant Deadline: February 27, 2014
Distribution Grant Deadline: Ongoing

Creative Capital is one of the only national nonprofit organizations that awards grants to individual artists through an open application process. They are a premier provider of risk capital in the arts, taking chances to support ideas that are bold, innovative and genre-stretching. To be eligible, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident, at least 25 years old, a working artist with at least five years professional experience and not a full-time student. Letter of Inquiry Form will open on February 3, 2014 for applications in Film/Video and Visual Arts.
Deadline: February 28th, 2014

Vision Maker Media (part of U.S. public television) is looking for compelling Native American stories that appeal to broad audiences. We're particularly looking for stories that advance CPB's initiatives--The American Graduate, and Women & Girls Lead. Projects in any phase of production are eligible to apply for funding with Vision Maker Media. Awards for research and development range from $5,000 to $20,000; awards for production or completion can be up to $100,000; and, new media awards range from $5,000 to $20,000.
Deadline: March 10, 2014

The Pacific Pioneer Fund supports emerging documentary filmmakers who have demonstrated a commitment to the craft of making documentaries for at least several years—but no more than ten. Limited to organizations anywhere in the US, certified by the IRS as "public charities", which undertake to supervise any project for which individuals receive funds, and to control the selection of individual recipients of funds.
Deadline: May 1, 2014


BRITDOC funds international and region specific documentary films through various awards and grant opportunties. Be sure to review each one to see if you are eligible:

  • PUMA Catalyst Awards
  • Channel 4 BRITDOC Fund
  • Bertha BRITDOC Fund for Journalism and the Bertha BRITDOC Connect Fund
A $20,000 prize is awarded to the filmmaker who best succeeds in merging animal issues with a compelling narrative. Film projects must contain an animal welfare or animal protection issue.
Works produced by animal-protection groups are not eligible. The applicant must be a producer and/or director of the submitted work. Projects in pre-production will not be considered.

nextPIX/firstPIX now accepts queries from any film that is being crowfunded at any point during the year. The criteria for a firstPix crowdfunded project are: must be the first or second feature DV or film project of the director(s), the projected budget cannot exceed $250,000.00 and the DV/film should have a positive humanitarian message. Projects are selected based in part on the criteria that they have a positive humanitarian message.

NPBC - AFROPOP: The Ultimate Culture Exchange Submissions (U.S. Public Media)
Afro:PoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange is a US based public television show featuring independent documentaries and short films about life, art, and culture from the contemporary African Diaspora. NBPC is looking to support and broadcast strong stories that will capture the breadth and scope of the diversity of experiences of contemporary African peoples.