I’m writing this post, mostly for myself. There is money to support creative documentary projects. There is even money out there that matches the goal of our nonprofit, Eclectic Reel. I am writing this to remind myself that I could take time to do more research on finding and applying for those.
Before the list of resources let me begin by saying. . . the overarching goal should be to find funders that already have an existing goal that overlaps with your documentary project idea. And yes, I would say that it’s best to have a rough plan for a documentary film idea. Know your theme. Know the story that will tell your theme in an interesting way. I would encourage you to at least do a bit of writing on those two ideas. You can then go look for funding sources that match that goal. Alternatively, you could spend some time looking at the resources available and then reverse engineer the process. The danger here is that you may be less passionate about the idea (unless you really find a funder that matches your vision as a director).
Also, know that grant writing takes time and rejection should be an expected part of the process. Write Grants. Seek feedback when you are rejected. Adapt. Rewrite. Try again. No just means that you haven’t found the right match for your documentary idea (or that you have not communicated that idea clearly or communicated it in a way that the funder can see that it matches their own funding goals).
Places to start?
First, I recommend local nonprofits in your area that overlap your vision as filmmaker (or organization). Don’t underestimate the power of local community contacts. Also, don’t forget that most faith communities are nonprofits. If you can find one to collaborate with this can turn in to a long term collaboration effort. Much of the funding for our films have come from faith communities that support human rights work and indigenous organizations.
Next, expand that search to your region. Many times there may be specific grants (or tax incentives) by state or region. In Washington state there are two resources you should know about:
Here’s other places that will give you a start for funding:
Good luck and if you see me ask me how my grant writing is going.