IDA+XRM Media Incubator Application Guidelines

About the Fund

The IDA+XRM Media Incubator supports short character-driven vérité documentary films from around the globe, with an emphasis on emerging filmmakers. The Incubator provides production and post-production grants and mentorship from Academy and Emmy award-nominated directors. In 2021, grantees will be paired with award-winning directors Nadia Hallgren, Skye Fitzgerald and Smriti Mundhra, who will provide advice and guidance on crafting character-driven immersive shorts.

Please reference the FAQ or email grants@documentary.org with any questions about your project's eligibility or the application process.

Mission & Objective

The IDA+XRM Media Incubator was created to support domestic and international emerging filmmakers in the vérité short documentary space. Inclusion and diversity, both in terms of the filmmaking team and subject matter, are a priority of the fund. 

Period of Support

The grant period of support is one year from the date of the grant award. Grant funds will be used to advance or reimburse production and post-production related expenses incurred during that period. 

Grant Amount

The Incubator will award three films a total of $25,000 each. 

Applicant Eligibility

  • 18 years of age or older and be the director and/or a producer who shares creative and editorial oversight of the project.

  • Grants to non-US citizens or non-US residents may be subject to mandatory US government withholding.

  • Must have directed and/or produced a character-driven vérité documentary film at least 20 minutes in length.

  • Applicant cannot have directed more than two feature length films.

Film Eligibility

  • Short must be completed by November 2022.

  • Project can not have a distribution deal in place. 

  • Observational, directional vérité filmmaking must be integral to the project. The film should be immersive with unfolding actuality, and with little or no sit-down interviews.

  • Stories must be contemporary, original and of an urgent or critically important nature. 

  • Profiles, biographies and student films are not eligible. 

  • The run-time for the finished documentary must be 40 minutes or less.

  • Access to major participants must be secured.

  • Film must be in production or post-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.

  • Film must not be funded by a brand (e.g. Patagonia, Red Bull, Square, MailChimp). 

Application Opens: July 5, 2021

Application Closes: August 2, 2021 11pm PT

To Apply:

  • 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.

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

  • You will need to upload a proposal checklist (pdf) & a line item budget to your Submittable application. See the Proposal Checklist below for details.

  • You will need links to streaming versions of your previous and current work sample with English subtitles. 

  • For the current work sample, the video must include the participant featured in the proposal. The suggested length is a minimum of 5 minutes. There are no restrictions on the type of sample. It can be one scene, a string out of scenes, an interview with a character. Please make certain the audio can be heard. Be sure to give context of what the sample is in the proposal. We encourage applicants not to expend extra resources to prepare the sample.

Proposal checklist

Please prepare a proposal and line item budget as outlined in the proposal checklist. There are items that are required and optional. Written materials must be in English. If required materials are missing, we cannot review your application. 

IDA+XRM Media Application Checklist

Application Evaluation 

IDA staff and a committee that may include journalists, filmmakers, scholars, programmers and industry professionals will review application materials through a confidential process. 


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