Skip to main content

Grant Writing: How to Adapt to the Changing Documentary Funding Landscape



About the event:

In this documentary grant writing workshop, IDA’s Program Officer, Dana Merwin will demystify the process and discuss authorship’s role in documentary projects with IDA grantees, Meena Nanji and Zippy Kimundu. Using their film, Testament, as an in-depth case study, participants will learn about tested practices, common mistakes and how to best navigate the daunting non-fiction funding landscape. Video is ASL interpreted and post-captioned.

Topics covered will include:

  • What is authorship and why it is important

  • Crafting a logline, soliciting feedback and building a support network

  • Solutions to common mistakes

  • Evolution of work samples and the proposal

  • When to submit to a grant and how to handle rejections

  • Reboot of the Documentary Core Application 

  • How to build relationships with funders

This class is ideal for:

  • Anyone writing a grant application

  • Filmmakers interested in applying for the IDA Enterprise or Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund


Event presenter bios

Dana Merwin, IDA Program Officer (left)

Dana Merwin is the Program Officer at the IDA where she administers the Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund and IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund. Prior to joining IDA, Dana was the production manager for Al Jazeera America's documentary unit and the Peabody Award-winning series Fault Lines. She was the Director of Operations for Jupiter Entertainment in Los Angeles, where she oversaw delivery of docu-reality series to various cable channels. She has served as a production manager on numerous film and television productions.

Meena Nanji, Co-Director/Co-Producer (center)

Meena's a filmmaker of South Asian heritage, born in Kenya. A graduate of CalArts, she has made award-winning experimental works, non-fiction and short fiction narratives. She's also worked as a film/video festival curator at Outfest and the LA Festival, and in creating digital media training programs in India and Afghanistan. She co-founded GlobalGirl Media - a non-profit that trains girls from underrepresented communities of the world in digital media and citizen journalism. Her work, which focuses on social justice issues, and gender/race representation, has been broadcast on PBS, Al Jazeera, NDTV and others, and supported by foundations including IDFA, Rockefeller Foundation, NEA, CPB, Film Independent, HotDocs Blue Ice. She's currently co-directing a feature documentary set in Kenya.

Zippy Kimundu, Co-Director/Co-Producer (right)

Zippy is an award-winning Kenyan Filmmaker who has been working in the global industry for nearly a decade as a Director/Editor. She received her MFA from NYU Tisch in Singapore in 2015. She has worked on both fiction and Non-Fiction projects filmed in over 20 countries. She wrote and co-directed a short documentary, a fork, a spoon & a KNIGHT with renowned Director Mira Nair, for Tribeca Film Institute’s ‘Power of Word Series’, and was the Assistant Editor on the Disney Film Queen of Katwe filmed in Uganda and South Africa. Zippy continues to work independently in both in Film and TV, and recently founded an international collective of film professionals with an aim of encouraging international co-productions, providing high-quality film production services and telling unique stories across Africa.