Open Call for Documentary Film Proposals - www.macfound.org
The Media, Culture, and Special Initiatives program is accepting proposals for documentary film projects between November 1, 2011 to December 2, 2011.
The program seeks to fund documentary projects that address the significant social challenges of our time or explore important but under-reported topics. Domestic and international topics are welcome, and preference will be given to projects that align with one of MacArthur’s grantmaking areas. Support will be provided primarily for production and post-production activities, and to experienced filmmakers based in the U.S. with a track record of completing feature-length films that have been broadcast nationally and internationally.
This is a highly selective process. In the last open call, the Foundation supported eight projects (out of nearly 400 proposals received).
Proposals must be submitted electronically via firstname.lastname@example.org with “Documentary Grant Proposal: [YOUR ORG'S NAME]” in the subject line (e.g., Documentary Grant Proposal: Hopeful Films).
Proposals will not be accepted prior to November 1, 2011 or after 11:59pm CST on December 2, 2011.
The Foundation will not be responding to phone or email inquiries about the program or the process, so please read the criteria and guidelines (and the FAQ section) carefully and proceed using your best judgment.
In selecting documentary films for support, the Foundation looks for the following:
- Projects that address important, contemporary social topics – international or domestic
- Projects that align with MacArthur’s programmatic interests in the U.S. and International Grantmaking areas
- Projects that follow an issue over time, providing in-depth reporting that goes beyond conventional news coverage
- Projects that utilize compelling personal stories to engage viewers and create empathy
- Projects that appeal to a broad audience because they are accessible, interesting, and balanced (treats different points of view respectfully)
- Projects that have a strong likelihood of broadcast in the U.S. and elsewhere, and thoughtful plans for broad dissemination in educational, community, or policy settings
Please read this section carefully and follow the instructions closely. Do not refer to instructions about applying for grants in other parts of the MacArthur website, which may be different from the guidelines provided here.If you are working on multiple projects, you may submit more than one project for consideration. However, each proposal must be sent separately. Please read over the criteria carefully and submit only those projects that closely meet the Foundation’s selection criteria.
If you submitted a proposal for a documentary project in June 2011 and that project was not funded, please refer to your letter from the Foundation before re-submitting a proposal for the same project. If you were instructed not to re-apply, please do not resubmit a proposal for the same project.
Your proposal must include FOUR parts, please label them accordingly:
Part 1 – Cover sheet
In the cover sheet, please include the following:
- Name of the organization to which a grant could be made. MacArthur does not make grants to individuals and does not make grants through fiscal agents or sponsors. In order to qualify for a MacArthur grant, you must apply through a nonprofit or for-profit incorporated entity that can claim it has “complete financial and editorial control over the documentary film project” for which it is seeking MacArthur support.
- Name of the executive of the organization, his/her email address and phone number, and the organization’s mailing address and web address.
- Name, title, email address and phone number of the main contact person for the project (typically the film’s producer or director)
- Name of the film (or working title).
- Keywords: One to four keywords that would characterize what the film is about in the most general sense. For example, Education, Climate Change, Race, Human Rights, Poverty, Food, Arts, Globalization, Women’s Health, etc.
- A short description of the film, using less than 45 words. You might want to start the description with “This film is about…” or “This film explores….”
- Total budget amount.
- Amount you are requesting from MacArthur. (You may request any amount, but the typical grant range is between $50,000 and $200,000).
Part 2 – Description of the film & sample of work-in-progress
- In this section, please describe the film in greater detail, providing a clear sense of the film’s theme, format, structure, style and point of view. Please also describe the intended audience for the film and what you expect to be the likely broadcast and distribution vehicle for the film.
- Please include the current status of the project and explain how MacArthur funds will be used to advance the project.
This section of the proposal should be NO LONGER THAN 6 PAGES.
If your project proceeds to the semi-final round of review, you will be contacted and asked to submit a fuller treatment.
- Please submit a work-in-progress video (scene selects, trailer, or rough cuts) of at least 3 minutes in length and no more than 20 minutes in length. We prefer vimeo or YouTube, but other formats will be considered. DO NOT SEND DVDs. Proposals submitted without online access to work-in-progress will not be considered.
Part 3 – Budget
Please include a detailed budget for the project, including a list of income sources (with amounts).
Part 4 – Production personnel
Please submit a short bio of each of the key production personnel. If you are able to provide a link to a more detailed bio or filmography, please provide the link. If your previous work is available for online viewing, please provide the link. (Do not send DVDs of previous work.)
This section of the proposal should be NO LONGER THAN 1 PAGE.
The Foundation’s Response
As soon as you submit your proposal to email@example.com, you will receive an automatic acknowledgment email stating that your proposal has been successfully submitted. Between December 2011 and February 2012, the Foundation’s staff will be reviewing the proposals and selecting a group of semi-finalists. Applicants in the semi-final round are likely to be contacted by the Foundation staff for more information. Between March and June 2012, the Foundation will work with a panel of reviewers to make its final selections. We expect to notify the grant recipients and to make a public announcement in the summer of 2012.
MacArthur does not accept proposals for the following:
- Documentaries that are biographical, historical, or personal in nature
- Short, experimental, or fictional films
- Films by youth or first-time filmmakers
- Films intended to feature a single organization for promotional purposes