10 FAQs: Applying for the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund
2012 Documentary Fund Grant Recipient 99%-The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film
10 FAQs: Applying for the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund
2012 Grant Recipient Dirty Wars

10 FAQs: Applying for the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund

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The Fall 2013 granting round for the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund is in full swing. Applications are trickling in to our LA office, and we are eager to begin learning about the projects and stories that documentary filmmakers around the globe are working on. As projects arrive, so do the questions. So last week, we reached out to you for questions, concerns, and comments, because chances are the questions on your mind are mirrored in the minds of applicants across the globe. Thank you for adding your voice to this conversation and responding to our call. Below you will find the top 10 questions with an answer from the Documentary Film Program. If your questions remain unanswered, please take a moment to read through our FAQ and proposal checklist before emailing us at dfp@sundance.org

Q. Does my DVD submission need to be postmarked by the 9th or arrive at the LA office by the 9th? Can I send the DVD late if I upload a VIMEO link by the deadline?

A .We require project submissions and work sample DVDs to physically arrive in the office by July 9, 6 p.m. PST. In addition to your DVD submissions, we strongly encourage you to send a VIMEO link for the project submission and past work sample as well. 

Q. What's the meaning of the word ʺstakesʺ in the summary context?

A. Stakes describes what is at risk in the story or situation you are trying to tell. High stakes means there is a lot to win or lose, and that fundamental change might occur depending on the outcome.

Q. Can my past work sample be a co-direction? If I am a first-time director, may I send in someone else’s work as my ‘completed prior work’?

A. Yes, your past work sample can be a co-direction or collaboration that best reflects the vision of your current project and your style as a filmmaker. If your current work is a divergence from you past work, please explain how. If you are a first-time director, and this is your directorial debut, you may submit work from a key member of the creative team and mention in your proposal that you are a first time feature director. Completed prior work may be any length from short to feature and may be in any genre. Trailers alone are not accepted as your prior work sample—you must submit the entire work.

Q. Can the director function as the producer on a project, or is a designated producer required?

A. Yes, the director can function as the producer and can be listed as director/producer on the proposal. We understand that filmmakers often wear multiple hats on a project and partnerships and collaborations come in all varieties.

Q. My budget and proposal are two separate files, may I upload two documents to my online application?

A. No, we are only able to accept one file per submission. If your proposal is a Word document and your budget is in Excel, please watch this video on how to import Excel into Word Documents. You can also learn how to combine two PDFs into one PDF  here. And if all else fails, please print your two documents and scan them in as one.

Q. Do we need to spend all of the money we ask for in the grant?

A. Yes, your budget should clearly define the amount of money you are asking for and how that money will be allocated. Please only ask for the amount you and your team need for the project. Funding amounts are ultimately decided upon by the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program staff and may differ from your original request. Funds not spent on the project must be returned to the Documentary Film Program.

Q. If I have less than 20 minutes of a rough cut, should I still submit for production funding or should I submit for development funding instead?

A. Production/Post-Production proposals with very short reels (or with only trailers, teasers, or brief selects) are simply not competitive against the longer rough cuts being submitted. You may want to apply for funding in the Development category or wait for the next round of funding to showcase more of your project. You may apply and receive funding in multiple categories over the production timeline of the film. 

Q. Can I submit scene selects for the edited material?

A. Yes, you can submit scene selects, but in order to be competitive it will be better to show at least 20 minutes of selects that will give a sense of the overall story and style of what the project will be like.

Q. Would I be eligible to reapply with the same project if I am not selected this round?

A. You are eligible to apply for a grant more than once on a given film, provided you have significantly developed the project since last applying. Filmmakers are strongly discouraged from applying too early, or from submitting nearly identical proposals twice. Given the number of submissions received too early or too often, the DFP reserves the right to restrict eligibility for resubmission in the future.

Q. Can you provide me with specific feedback if my project is not selected?

A. Unfortunately, given the number of submissions, we are not able to provide individual feedback on project submissions. Thank you again for your questions. We look forward to continuing this conversation and learning about your projects. If you are interested in applying please click here.