documentary grants: how to apply

Introducing documentary grants

The good news about documentary grants is that they are out there. If you have a great idea for a film and you need the finance to get your project off the ground, a diverse range of outlets can offer help.

The not so good news is that documentary grants aren't dished out to everyone hoping to produce the next great award-winning short film. You’ll have to go through a fairly rigid application process.

Arts funding is available for serious ideas. Applying can be a time consuming affair, so you’ll be expected to go through all the appropriate channels, showing patience and politeness. Pestering a potential sponsor about parting with their cash is not going to endear you to anyone.

What are the main bodies for documentary grants in the UK?

Channel 4 have made over £1,500,000 in grants available to prospective artists and documentary makers since the inception of the Channel 4 Britdoc Foundation (www.britdoc.org), in over 40 projects.

The Foundation aims to foster British film-making talent, from Emmy award winners to novices. They are particularly proud of their record in bringing a range of voices to the screen (some 28% female and 17% from ethnic minorities).

Britdoc documentary grants are in the region of £20,000. Applications can be made online, but your project must have been passed on by a UK broadcaster.

The Princes Trust (www.princes-trust.org.uk/) give low-interest loans to 18-30 year olds with ideas for films, offering regular business mentoring.

Here’s a teaser of an independent film, featuring Glasgow rock band Mogwai in concert.

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