Foundations and Corporations

So how do you stay alive if you don't want to do another search for sunken submarines, if you don't want to hunt for Nazi war criminals, and if you don't want to do a docusoap on circus performers or ship stewards? In other words, where do you go for the money if your subject is not sensational, does not make Discovery's heart beat faster, but instead makes a quiet appeal to the human mind and intelligence and assumes that most people have an IQ higher than 50? The answer for you is to beat a path to the doors of the foundations and corporations.

Most independent American filmmakers I know who work seriously in documentaries raise their funds through applications to local arts councils and foundations. These foundations have, in fact, become the chief sources of independent film financing in the last few years. Broadly speaking, these agencies are divided into federal, state, and private funding bodies. Generally, government agencies tend to fund research and pre-production, and private organizations are more inclined to give completion monies. Sometimes you will go back to the same source more than once, the first time to cover research and development, the second time for production.

The big hitters among the granting bodies are the Rockefeller, Ford, MacArthur, and Guggenheim Foundations, the American Film Institute, the New York Council for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Funding is intensely competitive, and dozens of applicants are turned down for every grant awarded. For example, Barbara Kopple was turned down again and again while trying to fund Harlan County, which eventually went on to win an Oscar.

You should note that most state humanities commissions work hand in hand with the National Endowment for the Humanities. Similarly, most state or city arts councils work closely with the National Endowment for the Arts. You should be aware of the existence of the Independent Documentary Fund, which is run by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

Film Making

Film Making

If you have ever wanted the secrets to making your own film, here it is: Indy Film Insider Tips And Basics To Film Making. Have you ever wanted to make your own film? Is there a story you want to tell? You might even think that this is impossible. Studios make films, not the little guy. This is probably what you tell yourself. Do you watch films with more than a casual eye? You probably want to know how they were able to get perfect lighting in your favorite scene, or how to write a professional screenplay.

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