Tribeca film institute came out of the film festival of the same name and it has the same values and the same aesthetic when it comes to film. The institute also features a fund that’s used to help support and finance promising documentary films.
It supports feature films as long as they are non-fiction in subject and the grant ranges from $25.000 to $50.000. Getting the grant is also a great honor due to the place that Tribeca film institute holds in the industry.
The recipients range in backgrounds and in topics that they work in. The list of recipients paints a picture of the dynamism of the industry.
Previous recipients of the TFI Documentary Fund include Zachary Heinzerling’s Academy-Award nominated Cutie and the Boxer, Crystal Moselle, who profiled six teenage cinephile brothers delving into the outside world after years of isolation in The Wolfpack; Ravi & Geeta Patel’s hilarious rom-com documentary Meet the Patels, about contemporary dating life seen through the eyes of a 1st generation Indian-American; Leah Wolchok’s incisive and comic look at the New Yorker cartoonists in Very Semi-Serious; and Maite Alberdi’s Tea Time, an intimate portrait of five elderly Chilean women and their fascinating monthly tea gatherings discussing friendship, politics and love.
Rules and regulations
The themes of the documentary need to be contemporary and other than that there’s pretty much no other rules in regards to what the film should be about. It needs be non-fiction and socially oriented but there’s a lot of wiggle room within that.
The grant can’t smaller than $10.000 and no larger than $50.000. There are however a few other rules in regards to the distribution of the film before it reaches the festival and the institute.
-The films need to be at least 67 minutes long
-It needs to be a premier meaning that they shouldn’t be shown before.
-The film doesn’t need to be finished when it applies but it needs to be in advanced stages of production
-There should be sufficient footage already available.
-Foreign films are acceptable as well, but they need to be acceptable to American audience
-Student films aren’t accepted.
The application is done through a series of questions. These are answered and submitted online. The application also needs to include the footage of the film that can be mailed or uploaded via cloud but at any rate made available to the institute.
A proposal is an additional part of your application that needs to be sent separately and is taken into account just as much as the footage and the questions that you need to answer in the process. The proposal is a chance to introduce yourself and to explain your work in a freer and open form.
It should provide an overview of your film and what will happen in it once it’s completed. This is where you should go into details and explain your work fully.
This is somewhat unusual in the industry but you should specify how much money you need from the institute. It may seem somewhat ungraceful but that’s how it’s done in the Institute and there are some good reasons why that’s the case. It’s a practical fund and one made to support the filmmakers.
Thus it’s perfectly reasonable for you to say what kind of help you need in order to complete your film. There are limits however, but it’s still best for everyone to know what they are working on and with what goal in mind.
The filmmakers are also required to submit their budget within the application. It will help the institute evaluate the project and figure out how much money you actually need and how well organized your production is. The budget should go into details such as securing rights to footage and/or music; or cost of equipment.
The submission deadline is TBD. If mailing footage DVDs, materials MUST be postmarked by the final deadline. There is no fee to apply to the TFI Documentary Fund. This is the case because of the pandemic and all the infrastructure problems that it has caused.
Tribeca film festival also has an institute supporting the industry. It runs a fund that will be used to support new filmmaking projects with up to $50.000. It’s awarded annually. This is done by submitting your proposal and presenting a budget and your financial needs regarding the film.
It applies to all documentary films with contemporary subjects and that hasn’t been shown before. The film also needs to be feature length meaning that it has at least 67 minutes of runtime. They don’t need to be finished when you apply but you need to have plans and footage available.