Enterprise Documentary Fund

Enterprise Documentary Fund

The Enterprise Documentary Fund is a part of the International Documentary Association, used to fund the creation of documentaries that focus on social and political topics. The fund is organized with major support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, helping movies in all stages of production: from writing to post.

Production Grants

Production grants exist to aid films in the production stage, accomplished with individual grants of up to $100,000. There are clear eligibility standards that you must follow in order to be considered for a grant. These are as follows:

  • Applicant must be the director and/or a producer who shares creative and editorial oversight of the project.
  • Applicant must be a US citizen or permanent resident and 18 years of age.
  • Applicant must have directed and/or produced a minimum of two feature-length films (40 minutes or longer) or an equivalent documentary series of two broadcast hours.
  • Film must be in production. Production costs may include staff, crew, travel, gear rental, office expenses, production insurance and legal expenses during the production period. Films with principal research and development completed are especially encouraged to apply. Films nearing the end of production will be considered, but must have production expenses remaining.
  • Subject may be domestic or international.
  • Film must be intended to reach a large and broad audience (a broadcast or distribution commitment is not required).
  • Access to major participants must be secured.
  • Journalistic practice must be integral to the project, with a commitment to accuracy, fairness, ethical practices, and assembling, verifying, and presenting accurate facts and visual materials.
  • Journalistic practice is broadly defined and may include, but is not limited to, extensive research, accessing public records or data, an accountability or investigative approach, the need to protect sources or media or navigating hostile environments.
  • Stories must be contemporary, original and of an urgent or critically important nature. Historical films will only be considered if they have a significant contemporary component or narrative. Biographies will not be considered. Branded content will not be considered.
  • There are no restrictions on style, aesthetics or treatment.
  • The proposal must include an online work sample of 10-15 minutes in length (Rough cuts will not be reviewed. If you submit a rough cut, only the first 15 minutes will be reviewed.)
  • Grant requests may be up to $100k.
  • The applicant is not required to be a member of IDA.
  • The applicant is not required to have nonprofit status or fiscal sponsorship.
  • Student films are ineligible.
  • Completed films are ineligible.
  • Short documentaries (under 40 minutes finished run time) are ineligible.


If your film is within these guidelines, it will undergo an evaluation to decide who receives the grant. These are more subjective than the standards for application, and it’s possible for a film to be rejected simply because its values and outlook don’t meet those of the fund. The evaluation is decided by your answers to the following questions:

-Are the above standards met?
-Do the story and the filmmakers meet standards of journalistic integrity?
-Does the project take an innovative approach to the subject matter?
-Does it represent a minority community?
-Has access been secured?
-Does the work sample support the written materials, and is it clear what the sample represents?
-Is the proposal well written and easy to understand?
-Do the writer and the team have experience to use the funds?
-Does the proposal include plans to reach the audience?
-Does the proposal include a plan to raise the rest of the funds?


There are clear deadlines for submitting the proposal, set for March 1st of 2020. Applications can be sent beginning January 2nd, 2020.


The greatest challenge for a documentary filmmaker is securing the funds for their work. The Enterprise Documentary Fund is one of many funds dedicated to aiding filmmakers.