After two years of preparation, the visual journalism wing of The Intercept goes public this month, led by an episodic series directed by Intercept co-founder Laura Poitras (Academy Award-winning director of Citizenfour) that offers a dramatic firsthand chronicle of the events that led Julian Assange to seek asylum in London, set to premiere at the New York Film Festival on September 27. During this calm before the storm, Poitras was joined by her two collaborators — fellow filmmaker AJ Schnack (Caucus, We Always Lie to Strangers, co-founder of the Cinema Eye Honors) and Charlotte Cook, until recently the director of programming for Hot Docs Film Festival in Toronto — to talk about their vision for Field of Vision, the glories of working in shorter forms, and the richly fertile ground between cinema and journalism.

Where did the idea for Field of Vision come from, and what was the motivation behind it?

Laura Poitras: In 2013, when I was reporting on the Snowden material, Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and I decided to work together. What I wanted to do is use visual journalism in a different kind of way. I proposed a structure where we had a really small team that would commission work that would expand the language of visual journalism. I was in the process of editing Citizenfour, and when I finished that I reached out to Charlotte and AJ to see if they wanted to build this unit with me. I’ve known them both for many years, and in terms of their skills and knowledge of the documentary community, both have such vast experience. Field of Vision is very much a collaboration.

Why open this up to a wider community of filmmakers instead of taking the standard TV news tack of working with a fixed crew?

AJ Schnack: It seemed like a great time to engage the community in a way that was different from the ways that they tend to be engaged. For a lot of people, the notion of doing something in the short form and also quickly responding to something that’s happening in the world is something that, as both an exercise and as a way to create a piece of art, is somewhat new. Not just have a team of five filmmakers who will constantly churn stuff out, but instead to say — here’s an event happening right now in the Pacific Northwest, and there’s a filmmaker who would be perfect for it. Let’s call them and get them in the field next week. That was something that was really interesting to us, as a way of getting a bunch of different perspectives, as well as different people’s styles of nonfiction.

Poitras: We’re trying to be creatively exploratory. We’re very much approaching this as filmmakers and creative people. We are interested in intersections between visual storytelling and newsgathering, and how writing and video journalism can work together. When we think of things that inspire us, it’s like Life magazine, which was such a great platform for photography and print, or World In Action, a British series that was responding to events as they were unfolding in very cinematic ways.

Charlotte Cook: Traditionally, art hasn’t been seen as having a place within journalistic filmmaking. But Laura and AJ’s work shows this isn’t the case — that it can have a place. We’re really excited about pairing very artistic filmmaking with journalism.

Schnack: We also like the challenge aspect of it. Laura and I worked together, along with a bunch of other filmmakers, on a film called Convention, and it was in many ways an exercise. It was like, here’s your camera, here’s your assignment — go.

Poitras: With Convention, AJ invited filmmakers that he trusted to work in a verité style to film the 2008 Democratic Convention. We had less than a week on the ground — we didn’t have time to prep. We’d all go out and shoot and then at the end of the day we’d debrief. It’s an experience that’s scary, but it’s also creatively exciting — not doing just what you know, what’s safe or predictable. It’s also great because oftentimes working in long form is really tough. It’s like a marathon. We don’t get to use our chops as much as we want to. So to be on the ground, trying to do things with a quicker turnaround, we can respond to the world around us more quickly, and also the life cycle of the creative process is accelerated.

Cook: The beauty of this form is that it allows filmmakers to play with the craft. They’re not putting three years into a feature, they’re doing a short film, and they can think about perhaps different ways that they’ve never told stories before. We’re keen on looking at things from a different perspective, whether it’s a story that people are familiar with, or something that perhaps hasn’t been covered properly. And then being able to work with different kinds of artists, photojournalists, and data-literate journalists, to really see how people think visually about topical stories.

Poitras: We’re also excited about working with other journalists at The Intercept. For instance, Jeremy and Glenn do incredible reporting, let’s assign filmmakers to work with them.

We’re interested in visually driven storytelling. It doesn’t need to be verité. It could be data visualization. How do you communicate about the world through the tools that are available to us, as people who work in a visual medium? How can we understand the world differently through images? We’re going to have different interests among us, and I’m interested in a journalism component, a news component, in being responsive. I definitely have a leaning towards that, as opposed to something that’s just purely poetic and visual. I want that news edge, that journalism edge. But I don’t want it to be all that either.

Do you see it as potentially a news-breaking outlet?

Poitras: Absolutely. If people come to us with something that’s breaking that’s visual, we’d be really interested in doing that. Yet everything we do has to have relevance beyond the news cycle. We’re not interested in just feeding the news cycle — we want things that have resonance beyond that.

With the long process of making a feature film, there can often be a stage of, ok, that didn’t really work so let’s go edit for another three months. That would seem harder to do here, considering the quicker turnaround and timeliness of some stories.

Poitras: We’re not going to publish anything that’s not ready. There’s one particular filmmaker working on access right now, and this was a film we had hoped would be ready early, but we’re just going to be patient because we all know that access is worth being patient for. We understand the filmmaking process, and that sometimes things can’t happen quickly. But we also like the idea of working with a faster turnaround — that is very exciting to us.

Cook: That’s why World In Action has been an inspiration for us. They had many ongoing productions at a time, so they weren’t bound by, “We must have something tomorrow.” Some will take a little bit longer, others will happen very fast.

Are you mainly pursuing filmmakers with stories or will they come to you as well?

Poitras: It’s everything.

Cook: We’ve led the story so far, but it’s going to be fascinating to see what comes in once we launch. To see the hive-mind of the filmmaking community look at what we’re doing and interpret it in their own way.

Schnack: We’re less interested in someone who’s already made a film giving us a piece of it, or riffing on that. We’re not a film fund, and we’re not here to help people get their development money for their feature. But maybe somebody’s in the middle of working on a project — let’s say the film itself isn’t going to be out for four or five years — and there’s some piece of it that really should be told right now.

Cook: Or there’s a sideline story that doesn’t quite fit into their feature that they’re desperately trying to get out there. Every filmmaker I’ve ever met has told of stories they would love to have made, but that just didn’t work as a feature.

Schnack: As filmmakers we have ideas all the time, but a lot of our challenge is determining, “Is it an hour? Is it 90 minutes? And what’s the commitment that’s going to be made to figure out what that is?” And you know if it’s a feature, you have to raise a bunch more money, because you have to be able to do a lot more shooting. I think it would be freeing if you thought there’s an interesting story happening and maybe it’s only a 5-minute film. Maybe it’s 10. There’s not really a process that exists in our world where you can say — there’s a story happening next week and I want to go out and shoot it, and these people over here are interested in making that film with you. A lot of the system that’s been set up is more related to, “Oh that sounds good — go film it and then come back to us and then we’ll talk about it.”

Of the first batch of films you’ve commissioned, there’s a variety in terms of length and structure. What do you envision in terms of form?

Cook: We really want to experiment. We’re very free in that we’re not bound by a broadcast schedule. We’re not bound by deadlines. We can choose when we go.

Schnack: We’re also really excited about episodic, multipart or thematic storytelling. Some projects that grow into something that should be a little longer, others can be told over two parts, or over a week of episodes, or via an episode each week. How you tell stories is one of the great things we’re all wrestling with right now. So how great to not feel bound by it needing to be this one thing. It could be 13 episodes, or it could be three parts. It could be five different filmmakers with different takes on an idea or event.

Poitras: Or it could be a project that’s one shot. I’m not sure that it should always have an arc. Maybe it only has a beginning. And there’s no middle or end. Or there’s only Act 2. I’m really interested in not always arcing things out, not having a resolution at the end. An episodic approach can be an example of that — the end is handing off to something else. This is something that will grow as we try things. Some things are going to work and some things aren’t. We’re going to be open to saying you know that film’s not quite working, and that’s fine. But what we want to do is take risks. Let’s think differently about how structure can work.

Cook: It could even be a moment — something that really makes people think in one moment. We’re open to everything from 30 seconds to full episodic.

Poitras: I also want to reach out to fiction filmmakers to work on nonfiction. Mix things up and see what people come back with.

Laura, can you talk a bit about your upcoming series about Julian Assange? It’s my understanding that you hadn’t necessarily conceived of that footage as an episodic series.

Poitras: After finishing Citizenfour, AJ, Charlotte and I started talking about the things that excite us in terms of the storytelling form. We all really love episodic as a way of telling stories. Where it’s like reading a novel — you put it down and go about your life but it’s still in your head, and then you return to it. So we said let’s look for stories that can be told in an episodic way, or that could be linked thematically. Afterwards I began thinking I have this really incredible narrative with Julian Assange that I’d filmed, which led up to him seeking political asylum in the embassy in London. The first assembly of Citizenfour included Snowden’s story and Julian, but in editing it became clear it was a separate film. In many ways it foreshadows Citizenfour. My experience of watching how Assange handled the release of the information, how he partnered with all these different media, etc. So then I emailed Charlotte and AJ and said I have this idea. What if we do a series about Julian?

Cook: That email kind of blew our minds. AJ and I were chatting online and we were like, is this for real?

Poitras: The experience we have with episodic storytelling is unique, it’s a different type of experience for the audience than long form. I’m a huge fan of House of Cards — you can’t stop watching it. It’s really exciting as a storyteller to work in that form.

Laura, you’ve worked on several occasions with The New York Times on their Op-Docs short film series. What was your experience with that, and how do you see this enterprise as distinguishing itself from what they do?

Poitras: What Jason Spingarn-Koff did at the Times was really fantastic — bringing in independent filmmakers and raising the dialogue and sophistication around nonfiction storytelling. It really does inform this. And it also informed me as a creative person, to be able to tell a story quicker, to be able to work within a shorter creative life cycle. On Death of a Prisoner, I combined new footage with footage I’d shot in Yemen in 2007, and it was published on the 11-year anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo. As an American I want to keep reminding people Guantánamo is still open. But how many long-form films can you make about it? So let’s do short form. And so this is very much informed by that. But we also want to do something different. We want to do original stories, new works.

How are the three of your working together on this? Do you have separate emphases and approaches, or are you all doing it all?

Poitras: We’re co-collaborators. We’re working under the umbrella of The Intercept — the fact checking and the final editorial will be through that. But we have the ability to greenlight projects within our unit. In terms of the process, with rough cuts we all weigh in to the filmmakers and give our individual opinions. So they have to wrestle with that, to decide what resonates and doesn’t, and deal with sometimes contradictory opinions. But then we give notes on the final edit in a collective way.

Cook: It’s very important that two-thirds of us are filmmakers. Because there’s no other unit right now doing this that’s filmmaker driven. That we’ve set this up so that Laura and AJ can keep working and making films is incredibly important. That leaves me with some time to look for talent and start bringing people in. Traditionally my background is journalism, and programming kind of came out of the blue. This pairs both of those things really nicely. We’re in a vacuum as programmers, so being able to build things and look at exhibition in a different way is exciting.

Laura and AJ, in terms of your own filmmaking, how will you determine what to work on for The Intercept, and what to pursue outside of it?

Schnack: We’ll both have ideas that will feel right for this project. But there will also be ideas that are definitely features, and those won’t be part of this. I’m going to keep doing some of the political work that I’m doing, and that won’t be part of Field of Vision. There will also be ideas that we’ll get to assign to other filmmakers. I think the reason why it makes sense for the three of us to do this is not only our love of documentary film but also our love for making connections within our community, being available to filmmakers and encouraging young talent.

Have you tried to structure things in a way that’s supportive to filmmakers?

Cook: From the moment Laura came to us about this it was agreed that it has to be filmmaker friendly. We have to make sure they have a good experience and feel like it’s nothing but beneficial to them.

Poitras: We’re licensing the work itself that’s coming to us, but the rushes, the footage, the copyright, stays with the filmmaker. Filmmakers can devote a decade to a set of themes or stories, so we’re just licensing that particular work — we’re not trying to restrict what filmmakers can do in other ways. We’re open to working with some projects that could potentially become long form, but we are not a development fund for features.

Cook: It’s more like something that organically comes out of a story, rather than somebody having a feature in mind and us supporting that. Also we’re very conscious of making sure to pay what these cost to make.

Poitras: We’ll agree on the budget, and they’ll allocate how they see fit.

Schnack: We’re not expecting filmmakers to donate their time to make these films. If it takes them a month of their lives, then their expenses for the month should be covered in the work. That’s another thing — as filmmakers, a lot of time people think they’re doing you a favor by providing you a platform. It’s important to us that we don’t have that perspective. People need to pay the bills.

How do you think about this enterprise in terms of audience?

Cook: I think about audience all the time. Audience has been my obsession for my entire career. I’ve been one of those creepy people who stand at the back of every screening I can get to. You know — what are they laughing at, what are they responding to, who’s coming to this screening? It’s been interesting seeing how documentary has evolved, and how filmmakers are having to adapt to the online space. We really have to. Because as much as filmmakers love traditional distribution — and I think that we should always protect and fight for that, because it’s incredibly important — we also have to think about where the audience is right now. And a lot of it is online. So to be able to have filmmakers play with this is going to be really interesting. Hopefully we’re bringing art into this space, and maybe broadening the audience for that kind of filmmaking. Which is the most important thing for me. The kinds of people who watch visual journalism online probably aren’t going to be used to our approach. We’re opening a different kind of visual medium, and that’s only going to benefit the documentary community at large.

You don’t feel obliged to meet the traditional expectations for visual journalism?

Cook: No. I think people always underestimate audiences for documentary. It’s something I’ve heard from broadcasters and distributors — that there isn’t an audience for this. And that’s not my experience. People are desperate to see interesting, beautiful content, and it’s just very hard to find. So hopefully by having this amazing platform, we’re going to actually give people what they want.

Schnack: In nonfiction storytelling, the thing that people always seem to respond to in the biggest way always seems to be the thing that a month prior everybody said no one’s interesting in consuming or viewing. Then all of a sudden it’s like, oh, we need that. We should do that kind of thing.

Cook: The audience is always ahead of those people who say there’s not an audience for documentary. We’ve heard that so much, and it’s just not true. The moment people are aware of what’s out there they go and see it. Because they’re always looking for interesting filmmaking that makes them think and makes them look at things in a new way. They are there. It’s a myth that they’re not.

Field_Notes

Interviews with the filmmakers, announcements and other news from Field of Vision.

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Starting July 22, IF/Then Shorts has a new home at Field of Vision. Joining Field of Vision will be IF/Then Shorts Program Director Chloe Gbai and Supervising Producer Caitlin Mae Burke. Founded in 2017 with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, IF/Then Shorts is a fund and mentorship program that supports storytellers in breaking barriers to access, exposure, and sustainability in the media landscape. IF/Then works with creators who experience inequity based on factors such as race, gender, class, sexuality, ability, ethnicity, age, citizenship, and/or geography.

IF/Then Shorts taps into the need for broader geographical representation in the stories that get told through its regional pitch events. It holistically supports short documentary storytellers in their creation of compelling, character-led, community-inspired stories that embody the breadth and diversity of the people and places they represent.

The program addresses the imbalance of representation, perspective, power, compensation, and career longevity among independent filmmakers and media artists. IF/Then Shorts leverages access, expertise, network, and brand to address these challenges. Through grants, mentorship, industry connections, and professional development, IF/Then Shorts helps to ensure that storytellers from a multitude of backgrounds have access to the resources and tools they need to tell their stories, connect with audiences, and thrive in their careers. IF/Then Shorts was previously part of the Tribeca Film Institute, which is planning to pause operations indefinitely in September. "IF/Then Shorts is an incredible program, and one that’s vital to the field," said Charlotte Cook, Field of Vision's Co-Founder and Executive Producer. "We’re so glad that they can find their new home with Field of Vision. The program’s values align perfectly with Field of Vision, and further our overall commitment to shorts and advocating for filmmakers. Chloe and Caitlin are phenomenal, and I feel so lucky that they’ll be joining our team."

IF/Then Program Director Chloe Gbai said of the move: "We’re so excited that thanks to the MacArthur Foundation and Field of Vision we can keep this funding and development pipeline open to diverse, creative nonfiction talent past TFI’s pause this September. This program will have a new life and is ready to uplift the voices that we need to champion during these interesting times."

Supervising Producer Caitlin Mae Burke added: "As a former Field of Vision filmmaker myself, I know how beneficial it is to work with these trailblazers in the short documentary space. I'm overjoyed that all of our active projects and future supported filmmakers will benefit so immensely from this move, and we look forward to the tremendous growth potential for IF/Then possible under the Field of Vision umbrella." IF/Then is currently holding an open call for the North Shorts Grant and Fellowship, in partnership with Points North Institute, The Screening Room, Jigsaw Productions, and the LEF Foundation, for regional filmmakers in the American Northeast. About Chloe Gbai Chloe Gbai is the Director of IF/Then Shorts. Previously, as the POV Shorts and Streaming Producer, she launched POV Shorts, which earned POV its third documentary short Oscar® nomination, two News & Doc Emmy nominations and an IDA Awards nomination for Best Short Form Series.  She has previously worked at Teen Vogue and Viacom, as well as served on review panels and juries for the National Endowment for the Arts, Sheffield Doc/Fest, ITVS, IDA Awards, Black Public Media, Creative Capital, and various other film organizations. She is a member of Brown Girls Doc Mafia and a member-in-residence of the Meerkat Media Collective.

About Caitlin Mae Burke Caitlin Mae Burke is an Emmy-winning producer. Her films have screened and won awards at top tier festivals including Sundance, Berlinale, and Tribeca Film Festival and have been broadcast across the US and around the world. Her work has screened at MoMA, The Museum of the Moving Image, and in movie theaters internationally. She is an inaugural inductee to DOC NYC's "40 Under 40" and alumna of Berlinale Talents. IF/Then currently has funding opportunities available for filmmakers. Please find more information here.

Field_Notes

Interviews with the filmmakers, announcements and other news from Field of Vision.

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Field of Vision has partnered with Doc Society and Sundance Institute to launch Independent Documentary: Filming in the Time of Corona, a new Risk Assessment Guide for independent documentary filmmakers who are considering starting or resuming production during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

Many filmmakers are asking themselves — and others in the documentary field — the big question: Should I be filming at all?

As our field discusses and debates this particular question — and its ethical and and public health implications — Field of Vision, Doc Society, Sundance Institute, and our co-signatories are offering a “living document” that provides guidelines, a checklist, and questions for independent documentary film teams to ask themselves, each other and their partners. It is our hope that this guide will help filmmakers make informed decisions and help keep everyone safe.

We’d like to acknowledge our gratitude to all of the the co-signatories of the Risk Assessment Guide, who helped consult on, and improve the guide: Asian American Documentary Network (ADoc), Asociación de Documentalistas de Puerto Rico (ADocPR), ACOS (A Culture Of Safety) Alliance, Ambulante, American Documentary/POV, Black Public Media, Brown Girls Doc Mafia, Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), Chicken & Egg, DOCUBOX, Impact Partners, Indian Documentary Foundation, Latino Public Broadcasting, National Association of Latino Producers (NALIP), Pacific Islanders in Communications, Perspective Fund, Scottish Documentary Institute, Topic, Vision Maker Media: Native Stories for Public Broadcasting, and others.

This is a rapidly changing situation as well as a long-term reality. Those of us in the documentary field will need to be mindful, flexible, and diligent as our risk assessment continues to evolve in order to keep not only our community safe but also the communities we collaborate with in the stories we tell. This new normal is unprecedented, but our documentary community is nothing if not committed to responding to this profoundly unique situation.

The guide will be updated as the situation develops and as we receive additional feedback from filmmakers and support organizations.

Field_Notes

Interviews with the filmmakers, announcements and other news from Field of Vision.

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This list has been compiled as a guide to help documentary filmmakers in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its impact on the filmmaking community.

We’re going to keep adding to this document as we find any more support available to the community.

We’re also hoping to provide more initiatives and services ourselves, and you’ll be able to find all of those as we add them on this page.

This guide is separated into the following sections:

  • Field of Vision Resources
  • General Data and Preparation
  • Industry Work Information
  • Relief Funds for Filmmakers & Small Business
  • Current Project Funding
  • COVID-19 Financial Help: Resource Lists and Guides
  • Industry COVID-19 News
  • Festival Status & Updates
  • Other Resources

This is a living document and will be updated as more information becomes available.

We'd like to acknowledge and thank the organizations who have made their own compilations of resources available to the community, including: Creative Capital, Brown Girls Doc Mafia, Washington Filmworks, Coronavirus Resource Kit, Collective Care By State, Dear Producer Blog, and Independent Cinema Office.

If you know of any other support available to filmmakers, please email saeedah@fieldofvision.org with information.

Field of Vision Resources

Mentorship & Consultation Service

Our virtual "office hours" service is available for filmmakers, and offers consultation on a variety of areas. We’re prioritising filmmakers who’ve been affected by festival postponements and production changes, but will also be available to offer a range of mentorship and consultation around a variety of areas.

We have booked up our first 200 allocated meetings, but are running a waitlist and hope to open up more slots asap. The waitlist is here

Documentary Freelancer Relief Fund

A $250,000 fund to provide grants for freelancers working in the Documentary field. The fund distributes unrestricted grants of up to $2000 to support personal financial needs during the COVID19 pandemic to freelancers who have experienced hardship from loss of income or opportunity as a result of the pandemic.

The fund is open to freelancers working. worldwide

The fund will open next on May 6th from 9am ET until May 8th at 6pm ET or until we reach 750 applications.

Information about the fund can be found here.

Field of Vision Project Funding

Field of Vision provides funding for both Short, Feature-length and Episodic projects at all stages of development, production and post-production. We have no deadlines and commission and fund on a rolling basis. We are looking for a strong artistic vision and approach and films that tell the stories of our world from new perspectives.

To see our criteria please visit our submissions guidelines here

Shorts

https://fieldofvision.org/submit-short

Features & Episodic

https://fieldofvision.org/submit-feature

General Data and Preparation

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, it is important to stay up to date with information related to public health and civic engagement. Below are sources for general information and statistics about the outbreak:

COVID-19 Data Pack from Information is Beautiful

Symptoms and Statistics

Emergency Kit- Al Jazeera

Legal rights in a quarantine

Industry Work Information

The nature of our industry makes work stoppage and social distancing difficult. Below are resources for filmmakers who have to travel, work on location, or work from home for the first time:

The Economic Impact of Coronavirus Survey

Travel and On Set Information

How to travel during the international coronavirus outbreak

On Set Tips: From Washington’s Film Worker (bottom of page)

Film and TV Charity Covid-19 Advice

Working from Home

Work from home securely

These are the internet providers offering free Wi-Fi during coronavirus

Avid free 90-day licenses

FREE Temporary Licenses and More to Help You Work from Home

How to Disinfect Camera Equipment and Spaces

Series of webinars for the suddenly remote workforce

Other Industry Resources

What You Should Know About Online Tools During the COVID-19 Crisis

Pro Bono PR Services for Films with Festival Cancellations

Ways to Help Artists and Creatives During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Ideas for responding to COVID-19 in the Film Industry

Cash Flow for Filmmakers Webinar

Please note: Specific filming restrictions can vary from state to state, country to country, and so on. You should check with your local film office regarding filming on location at this time.

Relief Funds for Filmmakers and Small Business

Below are new funds set up specifically to relieve filmmakers during this time:

Artist Relief - This fund will distribute $5,000 grants to artists facing dire financial emergencies due to COVID-19. It was designed by Americans for the Arts to better identify and address the needs of artists.

BFI and the Film and TV Charity’s Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund - BFI and Film and TV Charity have partnered to create a new industry-backed Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund to help support the creative community in the UK.

Covid-19 Freelance Artist Resource - A list specifically designed to serve all types of freelance artists and those interested in supporting the independent artist community during this time

COVID-19 WOC Artists Relief Fund - This fund is specifically for women of color working artists or creatives that have been directly impacted financially in light of COVID-19.

Disability Arts New Commissions - Disability Arts Online is a UK-based small organisation, committed to supporting their community during this time they’ve allocated £8,000 to new commissions for artists with disabilities.

Facebook Small Business Grants Program - Facebook is providing assistance in cash grants and ad credits.

Freelancers Relief Fund - Freelancers Relief Fund will provide financial assistance of up to $1,000 to freelancers who are experiencing sudden hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether as a result of illness, lost work, or caregiving responsibilities.

Global Open Call for Art - Amplifier has created an open call for work that focuses on public health, flattening the curve, and mental health during this global crisis. The organization will award $1,000 apiece to 50 artists, with new winning works announced each week, starting the first week of April.

NYFA Emergency Grants - Resources for arts and cultural organizations based here in New York and elsewhere.

PEN Writers’ Emergency Fund - PEN America will distribute grants of $500 to $1,000 based on applications that demonstrate an inability to meet an acute financial need, especially one resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Rauschenberg Emergency Grants Program - Expected to be rolled out in late May or early June the grant will provide visual artists, media artists, and choreographers up to $5,000 worth of assistance for medical emergencies.

Relief Fund for Hollywood Support Staff - The entertainment organizations #PayUpHollywood, Scriptnotes Podcast and YEA! have teamed up to create the Hollywood Support Staff COVID-19 Relief Fund, aimed to assist LA-based support staffers affected by the COVID-19 shutdowns.

SAG-AFTRA Disaster Relief - Financial help to SAG-AFTRA members who have been impacted by this pandemic

Current Project Funding

Compiled Lists of Project Funding

American Documentary’s Filmmaker Resources - An extensive list of US and international funding sources

Doc Society Resource List - These links and documents are designed to connect you to the organisations you need to know to get your doc funded and make it all happen.

The EDN DOCalendar - The EDN DOCalendar provides an overview of what's happening in the international documentary industry.

International Documentary Association - Fiscal Sponsorship & Grants - A searchable database of available grants and fellowships

Upcoming Funding Deadlines

Here are a few upcoming deadlines for key funding opportunities. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, but we’ll be adding to it over time

April

SFFILM Documentary Film Fund

The SFFILM Documentary Film Fund (DFF) supports engaging documentaries in post-production which exhibit compelling stories, intriguing characters and an innovative visual approach.

Deadline: April 30th, 2020

Stage: Late Production and Post-Production

Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund

Provides funds to feature-length documentaries which highlight and humanize issues of social importance from around the world.

Deadline: April 30th, 2020

Stage: Production or Post-Production

May

Rogovy/Miller Packan Doc Fund

Supports Docs that address social issues that inspire others.

Stage: Advanced Development, Production or Post-Production

William Greaves Fund

Firelight’s William Greaves Fund is a research and development grant that supports nonfiction filmmakers of color based in the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia, and Brazil.

Stage: Development

June

IDA/Pare Lorentz

2020 funding focus is on criminal justice.

Stage: Early Production

Sundance Doc Fund

The Sundance Institute Documentary Fund provides grants to filmmakers worldwide for feature-length projects that display artful and innovative film language and techniques, rigorous research, originality, project feasibility, contemporary cultural relevance, and the potential to reach and connect with its intended audience.

Stage: Development, Production & Post-Production

July

ITVS Open Call

The documentary can be on any subject, viewpoint or style as long as it is in active production already, as evidenced via a ten to fifteen-minute work in progress sample. *not a grant, co-production agreement.

Deadline: July and then re-opens again in Feb 2021.

Stage: Production

NYC Women’s Fund for Media, Music and Theater

NYC Women’s Fund provides grants to encourage and support the creation of digital, film, music, television, and live theatre content that reflects the voices and perspectives of all who identify as women.

Deadline:*Opens Summer 2020/check site for updates.

Stage: Post-Production/Finishing Funds

September

ITVS Diversity Development Fund

The Fund looks to support exceptional stories by filmmakers from diverse backgrounds: stories that take creative risks, inspire dialogue, and are rarely seen on public media.

Stage: Development

Puffin Foundation

The Puffin Foundation has sought to open the doors of artistic expression by providing grants to artists and art organizations who are often excluded from mainstream opportunities due to their race, gender, or social philosophy.

Stage: Any

October

Tribeca Film Institute Doc Fund

The TFI fund sponsors documentaries that spotlight contemporary themes with unique, creative filmmaking.

Deadline: Opens in the fall.

Stage: Any stage of development or production

Fledgling Film Fund

Most recently interested in climate change, but social justice/impact is at the core of the fund.

Deadline: Re-opens in the Fall. *check site for updates

Stage: Typically Post

Rolling Deadlines

Perspective Fund

Perspective provides grant support to independently produced documentary films that highlight social justice and human rights issues, that align with our priority areas.

Stage: Any stage of development or production

Catapult Film Fund

Catapult is not tied to any specific social issue agenda. We support and encourage filmmakers to tell a full range of stories on film in whatever form fits the film and artist.

Stage: Development

Cinereach Feature Film Fund

Cinereach awards grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to support any stage of feature film production

Stage: Any stage of development or production.

COVID-19 Financial Help: Resource Lists and Guides

Creative Capital List - Creative capital aggregated list of resources for artists working in all disciplines, as well as arts philanthropists, and arts professionals.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance - The US Department of Labor’s Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program provides temporary benefits to people who, due to a major disaster, lost or had their employment or self-employment interrupted.

Emergency Funds for Freelancers - A list of mutual aid funds that distribute emergency grants to artists, creative professionals and freelancers facing financial hardships

Firelight SBA Loan Consultation - With the support of the Perspective Fund, Firelight Media is offering 30 minute one-on-one consultations for filmmakers of color who are applying for US Coronavirus Federal Relief.

IFP Resources for Filmmakers - Independent Filmmaker Project has curated a list of resource pages and opportunities we’ve found particularly useful and inspiring in these uncertain times.

ITVS: Applying for Federal Coronavirus Relief as a Filmmaker - Firelight Media, IDA, and ITVS are hosting a series of hour-long webinars to learn the basics of applying for the various SBA programs.

National Endowment for the Arts: COVID-19 Resources for Artists and Arts Organizations - A list of organizations that are currently providing frequently updated news and resources for artists and arts organizations.

New York State: Resources for New York State Arts and Cultural Organizations - The New York State Council on the Arts is compiling and daily updating resources to support New York State's artists and arts organizations, including emergency funds, small business support, learning opportunities, management support, and discipline-specific resources.

NYC Assistance & Guidance for Businesses Impacted Due to Novel Coronavirus - Applications for the NYC Business Continuity Loan Fund may be paused for now, but there are other resources here for businesses operating in the five boroughs.

Southern Documentary Fund: Resources for Southern Filmmakers - A list of the websites, emergency funds and resource listings for Covid-19 response to artists and freelancers from the twelve Southern states that SDF serves

Small Business Guidance and Loan Resources - The US Small Business Administration’s (SBA) page for coronavirus funding options, CDC guidance for businesses and employers, and more.

Women Arts Media Coalition - A glossary and links to many resources, brought to you by the Women in the Arts & Media Coalition with the assistance WomenArts

Women Make Movies: Regional Resources - Many organizations are providing resources and support on the local level. Check out WWM’s list of regional resources to see if your local arts organization can help.

Remote Work Sites, Opportunities, Resources

Remote Work Opportunities

Remote Film Jobs Bechance

Fiverr

Upwork

Creative Commissions

Industry COVID-19 News

Break COVID-19 Industry Cancellations

Privilege and Pandemic: How COVID-19 Reveals the Documentary Sustainability Crisis

Most SXSW Shorts Are Streaming Free Thanks to Oscilloscope and Mailchimp

A Way of Life in Peril

Select Film Festivals and Indie Movies Figure Out Online Access

Alamo Drafthouse relief fund for furloughed staff members

Festival Status & Updates

Below you’ll find links to the latest festival news. Many festivals are still scheduled for the fall; we've included submission dates for several below. We’ve also included links to updates from festivals that have been cancelled and postponed. Please feel free to send updates to help our community stay informed.

And please check out our Google calendar for upcoming festival deadlines: https://bit.ly/3bnJnaQ

Festivals: Upcoming Deadlines

Toronto International Film Festival

Regular Deadline - May 29

Final Deadline - June 12

AFI Festival

Late Deadline - June 5

Open City Documentary Film Festival

Regular Deadline - April 24

Late Deadline - May 8

Camden International Film Festival

Regular Deadline - April 27

Late Deadline - May 26

Extended Deadline - June 29

DOC NYC

Late Deadline - May 1

Extended Deadline - July 1

IDFA

Early Deadline - May 1

Late Deadline - August 1

New Orleans Film Festival

Late Deadline - May 8

Extended Deadline - June 19

Jihlava

Late Deadline - May 31, 2020

Extended Deadline - July 31, 2020

DOK Leipzig

Deadline - July 7

List of Festivals that have been affected by the pandemic:

Cancelled

Full Frame

Ebertfest

Sun Valley Film Festival

TCM Classic Film Festival

International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights

European media arts festival

The Miami Film Festival

San Diego Latino Film Festival

Ashland Independent Film Festival

Watsonville Film Festival

Indie Grits

Provincetown International Film Festival

International Uranium Film Festival (Almeria)

BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival

San Francisco International Film Festival

BAMcinemaFest

Cleveland International Film Festival

Ebertfest

SXSW

Garden State Film Festival

SIFF

Sydney Film Festival

BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival

SFFILM

Riverrun International Film

Fargo Film Festival

Columbus Documentary Week

Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival

Sun Valley Film Festival

Online Only

Thin Line

CPH:DOX

Garden State Film Festival

Films on Art Festival (FIFA) Montreal

Movies that Matter film festival

DC Environmental

Hot Docs

Vilnius IFF

Visions du Reel

Environmental Film Festival (Washington, D.C.)

Cinema du Reel

NewportFILM

Greenwich International

AIFF

Postponed

Canadian Film Fest

New Directors New Films

Montclair Film Festival

Tribeca Film Festival

Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles

Beverly Hills Film Festival

Prague International Film Festival

Bentonville Film Festival

Red Sea International Film Festival

Thessaloniki Documentary Festival

Blackbird Film Festival

Cinequest

Dox on the Fox

Oxford Film Festival

Havana Film Festival New York

Cannes Film Festival

Sarasota Film Festival

Edinburgh Film Festival

Sonoma International Film Festival

International Uranium Film Festival (Rio)

Newport Beach Film Festival

Doc10 Film Festival

American Black Film Festival

Sofia Film Festival (Bulgaria)

Red Sea Film Festival (Saudi Arabia)

Seattle Jewish Film Festival

St Patrick's Film Festival London

Calgary Underground Film

QDoc Film Fest

Otff

AKS International Minorities

Kashish Mumbai Queer Film Festival

Northwestfest

Denver Women + Film

Cinema St. Louis Qfest

CAAMFest

Atlanta Film Festival

Salem Film Festival

Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival

Princeton Environmental Film Festival

Millennium Docs Against

ZagrebDox

Sebastopol Documentary

ACT Human Rights Film

IFF Boston

Maine Jewish Film Festival

OutShine Miami LGBT Film

Other Resources

Watch free IDFA movies

Tired of Netflix? Stream Experimental Films and Video Art

Sundance Collab Master Classes

Netflix Party

Ten Free Ebooks from Haymarket Books

Free Quarantine Ebooks

New Day Resources for Educators

Home Grown Home-Based Child Care (HBCC) Emergency Funds

COVID-19 COLLECTIVE DREAM JOURNAL

Women Make Movies Virtual Film Festival

2500 Museums Online/HYPERALLERGIC

CABIN FEVER BGDM: COVID-19 FREE STUFF TO WATCH

Mononoaware Film Care Package

Field_Notes

Interviews with the filmmakers, announcements and other news from Field of Vision.

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The final round of funding is now closed.

For this final round of funding, we will continue prioritizing providing support to filmmakers of color and filmmakers from other marginalized communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Field of Vision and Topic Studios have created a $250,000 fund to provide grants for freelancers working in the Documentary field. The fund will distribute unrestricted grants of up to $2000 to support personal financial needs during the COVID19 pandemic to freelancers who have experienced hardship from loss of income or opportunity as a result of the pandemic

Dates and Deadlines

April

The fund will be open for applications from Wed April 8th from 9am ET until Friday April 10th at 6pm ET or until we reach 1,000 applications. You can find the link to the application at the bottom of this page.

May

The fund will be open for applications from May 6th from 9am ET until May 8th at 6pm ET or until we reach 750 applications.

Notification of grant approval will be within 20 days of the fund closing, and payments will be processed within 30 days of notification of a grant. June The fund will be open for a final round of applications from June 10th from 9am ET until June 12th at 6pm ET or until we reach 500 applications

Criteria

Be able to demonstrate work as a freelancer within the documentary field in roles such as:

- Directors - Producers (This includes Associate Producers) - DPs - Editors - Sound Recordists/Designers - Researchers - Assistants - Critics & Writers who have covered documentaries - Publicists

Other freelance roles will be accepted if they meet the rest of the criteria

Provide a link (examples - IMDB page, Film Review, Direct link to project) that shows professional work in the field.

The fund is eligible for artists internationally, however you must be able to receive funding electronically (we are not able to issue checks), and priority will be given to countries and regions of which there isn’t government freelance assistance that you are eligible for. If you have not been eligible for government assistance, please state that in your application.

Students who are currently enrolled are not eligible.

People who are currently in employment are not eligible.

Please note: We have made every effort to reduce the amount of information, paperwork and requirements for funding and have tried to make the fund as open and accessible as possible. We are largely operating on a trust-based system and really urge you to work with us on being able to maintain this. It’s extremely important to us to be able to get funding to the freelancers that need it the most. Please answer all questions thoroughly and accurately so that we can ensure the funds are allocated to help as many people in need as possible.

Information Needed:

- Demonstrated professional work within the field - Usual income source - Description of situation - Maximum amount requested - Minimum amount requested - What the funding would be used for - Location

Please note: It’s important to include a maximum and minimum amount requested. Also, please note that grants may be taxable as income under the law that applies to you. We will issue Form 1099s for grants of more than $600.

The Process

As always, it is important to us that filmmakers lead how we operate and respond, and so the process will begin with a blind review of applications by a panel of filmmakers and producers, with a simultaneous review by the Field of Vision and Topic Studios teams. Those recommendations will then provide the recommended list for funding, which will then be reviewed once more before contacting the fund recipients.

We will only be contacting those who have been allocated funding.

On receipt of the grant acceptance please expect up to 30 days to receive payment. In order to issue the grants we will need a W-9 or W8-BEN tax form and an invoice which includes wire transfer details.

Field_Notes

Interviews with the filmmakers, announcements and other news from Field of Vision.

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UPDATE: As of March 23rd, our first 200 meeting slots have been booked. However, you can still sign up for the waitlist at the links below as we work to add additional appointment times. From Monday, March 16, the Field of Vision team will offer a virtual "office hours" service for the documentary community. As we’re in a moment of uncertainty, we want to make ourselves available to filmmakers in any way we can. We understand that the industry is experiencing a lot of upheaval, and that this is a particularly difficult time for freelancers and people working independently. 

We have allocated time every weekday until Friday, May 1st (we may extend depending on the situation) to have video meetings and calls. We’ll be prioritising filmmakers who’ve been affected by festival postponements and production changes, but will also be available to offer a range of mentorship and consultation around a variety of areas.

At Field of Vision we like filmmakers to lead and improve how we work. We were inspired by Jeanie Finlay, who has opened her time to mentoring after an upcoming film shoot had to be cancelled. Jeanie is working on a new film that we’re extremely honoured to be supporting. 

We are a small team and will try our best to make ourselves available to as many filmmakers and producers as possible. If any other members of our community would also like to donate their time, we are happy to facilitate this as well, so please feel free to reach out to us.

The areas which we would like to offer consultation on are below: 

  • General mentorship
  • Feedback on proposals and grant applications
  • Project Development
  • Online Distribution
  • Digital Engagement
  • Partnerships
  • Pitch Training
  • Editing
  • Technology & Digital Security
  • Distribution
  • Editorial Feedback
  • Festival Strategy
  • Career Guidance

This is not just open to filmmakers wanting to submit work for us to review, or filmmakers we have worked with before. If you feel you would benefit from time with our team on any project you’re working on please feel free to reach out. There are more details on how to take part below.

HOW TO SIGN UP

Meetings

If you would like to have a virtual meeting about any of the above, please follow this link to book a time: https://bit.ly/waitlist-fov-virtual-consult

(We will also be adapting to demand, and will create a waitlist, and/or increase availability if needed.)

Submissions & Pitches

While we are still managing and prioritizing our regular submissions system, we would also like to make time for project and pitch meetings.

To sign up for a pitch meeting with us, please make sure you have submitted through our system prior to the meeting, using the link below:  fieldofvision.org/submit

Once you have submitted through our submissions form, please sign up for a meeting slot here. NB: We won’t be able to take any meetings around potential projects until you’ve submitted through the system. If you’re not ready to discuss a specific project, or are looking for more general advice, please use the first form.

Please bear with us as we begin rolling out our virtual office hours service. This initiative came together very quickly, so there may be hiccups. We just wanted to offer something to start. 

As we navigate these uncertain times, what is certain is that we are a strong community of creatives and storytellers. We have shown time and again how resourceful we are, how dedicated we are to our craft, art form and field, and how supportive we can be of each other. 

Please stay safe everyone, The Field of Vision Team

Field_Notes

Interviews with the filmmakers, announcements and other news from Field of Vision.

See All →

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