MacArthur Foundation Announces Open Call for Documentary Film Proposals

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's Media, Culture, and Special Initiatives program supports the production and distribution of social-issue documentary films that address important contemporary topics and are intended for a broad audience, particularly in the United States.

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 track records of completing feature-length films that have been broadcast nationally and internationally and received critical recognition.

In selecting documentary films for support, the foundation looks for projects that address important, contemporary social topics — international or domestic; that align with MacArthur's programmatic interests in the U.S. and international grantmaking areas; that follow an issue over time, providing in-depth reporting that goes beyond conventional news coverage; that utilize compelling personal stories to engage viewers and create empathy; that appeal to a broad audience because they are accessible, interesting, and balanced; that are factually correct and follow best practices in journalism; that have a strong likelihood of being broadcast in the U.S. and elsewhere, as well as thoughtful plans for broad dissemination in educational, community, or policy settings; and that are led by experienced U.S.-based filmmaking teams that have past success in bringing a documentary project to successful completion and reaching broad U.S. audiences.

Grants will be made only to eligible organizations. 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, a project must be applied for 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.

Applicants may request any funding amount, but the typical grant range is between $50,000 and $200,000.

For the current round, initial online proposals will be accepted between July 15 and July 31, 2013. If a project is selected as a semi-finalist, the applicant will be notified by September 1 and asked to submit a full proposal and detailed budget. Funding decisions are expected in November.

Visit the MacArthur Foundation website for complete program guidelines, application instructions, and the online grant proposals form.