Tribeca Film Institute was born of a film festival of the same name, and features a fund used to support and finance promising documentary productions. Films are eligible for the fund if they fall into the non-fiction category, and grants range from $25,000 to $50,000. Receiving the grant is a great honor, due to the status of Tribeca in the film industry.
Recipients range in background and topics of interest, painting a picture of dynamism in the industry. Previous recipients of the fund include Zachary Heinzerling’s Academy-nominated Cutie and the Boxer, Ravi & Geeta Patel’s rom-com documentary Meet the Patels, and Leah Wolchok’s incisive look at the world of New Yorker cartoonists in Very Semi-Serious.
Rules and Regulations
Documentary themes must be contemporary, non-fiction and socially oriented. Grants may not be smaller than $10,000, nor larger than $50,000. There are a few additional rules in regards to distribution of the film, prior to its exhibition at the festival and institute.
-Films must be at least 67 minutes long.
-Films must be premier: meaning they have not previously been shown to the public.
-Films need not be finished, but must be in the advanced stages of production at the time of application.
-Sufficient footage should already be available.
-Foreign films are eligible, but must be accessible to American audiences.
-Student films are not currently accepted.
Applications are completed through a series of questions, answered and submitted online. The applicant must include footage of the film, which can e-mailed or uploaded to the cloud. Proposals are an additional part of the application process, and is a chance to introduce yourself and your work in an open, less restrictive format. It should provide an overview of your film, with details of your completion plan.
You should specify how much money you require from the Institute, if possible. This may seem rather unconventional, but this fund is a practical one, made to support filmmakers to the fullest. Thus, it is perfectly reasonable to be vocal about the kind of help you require in order to complete your film. There are limits, but it’s best for everyone involved if your goals are made clear from the start.
The filmmakers are also required to submit a budget outline as part of their application. This helps the Institute to evaluate the project, and decide how much money is actually needed. The budget should include details such as securing rights to footage and music, and the cost of equipment.
The submission deadline is TBD. If mailing footage via DVDs, materials MUST be postmarked by the final deadline. There is no fee to apply to the TFI Documentary Fund, due to the pandemic and the slew of infrastructure problems it has caused.