Filmmakers have often shared with us their frustration over the amount of time and effort involved in writing and revising grant applications to suit the varied requirements of documentary funders. We estimate that applying for grants alone represents tens of thousands of hours of unpaid labor on the part of documentary filmmakers each year.

In response, Sundance Institute and the IDA joined forces to create and disseminate a common funding application to the field. With the Documentary Core Application Project, a small but growing group of documentary funders have made a commitment to a more filmmaker friendly way of grantmaking.

Collectively, participants in the Documentary Core Application Project represent more than 5 million dollars in funding for independent documentaries annually. By adopting a standardized set of proposal requirements, participating grantors hope to ease the significant burden that has traditionally been placed on filmmakers and contribute to a more equitable and sustainable documentary field.

Currently, the project consists of a core proposal checklist that filmmakers can use to create a single proposal that will satisfy the primary requirements of participating fiscal sponsors and grantors.  In the next phase of the project, we are exploring standardizing other elements, such as work sample lengths, budgets, and grant reporting requirements. 

Core Proposal Checklist Frequently asked questions


The following organizations and grantors are currently using the Documentary Core App: