IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund Production Grant Application Guidelines

Mission and Objective

The IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund provides production funds to feature-length documentary films taking on in-depth explorations of original, contemporary stories and integrating journalistic practice into the filmmaking process. In addition to funds, grantees will receive additional resources and expertise tailored to the needs of the project. Inclusion and diversity, both in terms of the filmmaking team and subject matter, are a priority of the fund. Please reference the FAQ or email questions to

For more information on updates to the application, read "Why We Are Adding Authorship to the IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund Grant Application" by Poh Si Teng, Director of IDA Funds & Enterprise


  • Applicant must be the director and/or a producer who shares creative and editorial oversight of the project.

  • Applicant must either be a U.S. citizen or reside in the U.S., and be a "U.S. Person" with a valid TAX ID. International co-productions are eligible if the applicant (director and/or producer) is a U.S. citizen or resides in the U.S. and is a "U.S. Person" with a valid TAX ID.

  • Applicant must have directed and/or produced a minimum of two feature-length films (40 minutes or longer) or an equivalent documentary series or two broadcast hours.

  • Film must be in production. Production costs may include staff, crew, travel, gear rental, office expenses, production insurance and legal expenses during the production period. Films with principal research and development completed are especially encouraged to apply. Films nearing the end of production will be considered, but must have production expenses remaining.

  • Subject may be domestic or international.

  • Film must be intended to reach a large and broad audience (a broadcast or distribution commitment is not required).

  • Access to major participants must be secured.

  • Journalistic practice must be integral to the project, with a commitment to accuracy, fairness, ethical practices, and assembling, verifying, and presenting accurate facts and visual materials.

  • Journalistic practice is broadly defined and may include, but is not limited to, extensive research, accessing public records or data, an accountability or investigative approach, the need to protect sources or media or navigating hostile environments.

  • Stories must be contemporary, original and of an urgent or critically important nature. Historical films will only be considered if they have a significant contemporary component or narrative. Biographies will not be considered. Branded content will not be considered.  

  • There are no restrictions on style, aesthetics or treatment.

  • The proposal must include an online work sample of 10-15 minutes in length (Rough cuts will not be reviewed. If you submit a rough cut, only the first 15 minutes will be reviewed.)

  • Grant requests may be up to $100k.

  • The applicant is not required to be a member of IDA.

  • The applicant is not required to have nonprofit status or fiscal sponsorship.

  • Student films are ineligible.

  • Completed films are ineligible.

  • Short documentaries (under 40 minutes finished run time) are ineligible.

Application Opens: February 16, 2021

Application Closes: April 19, 2021 11pm PT


To Apply:

  1. Click on the "Apply Here" link below. You will be asked to register with Submittable, which involves entering contact information and choosing a username and password.

  2. Fill out the brief online application. You can save it and return to it as often as needed until you are ready to submit.

  3. You will need a narrative proposal (pdf) and line item budget. See the Proposal Checklist below for details.

  4. You will need links to streaming versions of your visual work samples for the project you are applying with and a previous work sample.

Proposal checklist

Please prepare a narrative proposal and line item budget as outlined in the proposal checklist. Read the guidelines and proposal checklist carefully, making sure to note which items are required and which are optional.  Please carefully review the Enterprise checklist and note we have made several changes since the 2020 Open Call. If materials are missing, we cannot review your proposal. 

2021 Enterprise Production Checklist

Submission Portal

We welcome applications from all IDA members and non-members. A user account is not necessary. Grant applications are accepted and processed through Please create a separate user account on Submittable. IDA membership logins will not work in conjunction with the application process. If you are experiencing problems logging onto Submittable, please reset your password through the following link:

Evaluation Criteria

IDA staff and a committee that may include journalists, filmmakers, scholars,  programmers and industry professionals will review applications through a confidential process and accompanying materials. Evaluators will take the following into consideration:

  • Does the project, as presented, meet the grant goals and eligibility requirements?

  • Do the story and filmmaking approach have journalistic integrity and integrate journalistic practices?

  • Does the project take an innovative approach to the subject matter? Has the story been told before, and if so, does this project's approach bring something new to the story?

  • Does the filmmaker and/or subject matter come from or represent a historically marginalized community?

  • How is the creative team uniquely positioned to make this film?

  • What is the filmmaker's connection to the community in which the story is about? If the filmmaker is an outsider, how will he/she/they engage and collaborate with the community?

  • Has access been secured?

  • Does the work sample support the written materials, and is it clear what the sample represents?  

  • Is the proposal well written and does it clearly illustrate the story and narrative structure, the filmmakers’ vision, the contemporary relevance of the story and the project’s journalistic approach?

  • Do the applicant and production team have the experience to complete the project as described?

  • Does the proposal identify an audience and a realistic plan for reaching that audience? Is there a reasonable chance of achieving the distribution goals?

  • Does the project have a realistic plan for raising the remaining budget? Is the budget thorough and reasonable? Are line items in the budget within industry norms and standards? Does the fundraising plan and do the current funders avoid conflicts of interests with the subject matter?