Short form filmmaking is nothing new for Elizabeth Lo. In just the past three years, the Los Angeles-based director has amassed five documentary shorts, including the widely seen and celebrated Hotel 22. That 8-minute film played at numerous festivals around the world, aired as a New York Times Op-Doc, and won the 2016 Cinema Eye Award for Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Short Filmmaking. As exemplified by Hotel 22, which brings the viewer onto a San Francisco night bus that functions as a de facto shelter for people living on the streets, her work to date has focused on people and communities at the margins of society.

In one sense, that focus made her a good fit for The Disclosure President, her new Field of Vision film centering on Stephen Bassett, the lone U.S. lobbyist advocating around matters pertaining to Extra Terrestrials, UFOs, and related government secrets. But in another sense, as Lo discusses in the following interview, this film was a departure. Whereas her previous work approached subjects ethnographically, and with a deliberate and evocative formal rigor, here she found herself honing in on, and adapting her aesthetics to, a single and singularly complex character. Though Stephen has spent 30 years unsuccessfully fighting for the lifting of what he calls "The Truth Embargo" of government information on E.T.s, Lo's film shows how there might actually be progress under a Hillary Clinton presidency. She talked about treading into all of these uncharted territories in this candid conversation.

Let’s start with the really obvious question: How did you come across Steven? Is this something that you read about? Did you meet him? Where did it start for you?

Lo: So Field of Vision actually contacted me and told me about Steven. They had come across him in a Washington Post article where he was described as sort of like the only lobbyist on the Hill fighting for the ET issue. I read about him and I was kind of drawn to it because it seemed so different than the subject matter of my other films—disenfranchised communities, marginalized groups. But Steven’s form of marginalization was pretty foreign to me. And I knew that the kind of topic the UFO story would be, I wouldn’t be able to observational in my mode of filmmaking. That was an interesting challenge for me.

Did you have a sense of “why me” for this? Or was it more: “this is different, I like it?”

Lo: I did have a sense of “why me.” It feels kind of different. But then there was this…I started doing researching and thought about UFOs as an interesting cinematic challenge, you know, how to represent them visually, if at all. And then I went to this conference as a scout, the Alien Cosmic Expo which was in Canada, and he was going to be there. So I went there, the first day he didn’t show up because he lives out of his car, well he lives at home with supporters who house him…he doesn’t have permanent housing anywhere. I guess his car had broken into the day before his flight, and his passport was stolen….all of these things that I guess were indicative of what had happened to him from being part of this issue. I guess I’m not sure of the cause/effect of his life choices. But then he showed up…first I had a phone conversation with him, and he was very verbose and talked a lot and was very maniacal. Just had this energy about him that I thought was really interesting. Anyone with passion can be a good subject. When I met him, he was actually much kinder than my impression of him on the phone.

Was it just that he was so excited on the phone? That he went into a sort of messianic place?

Lo: Yes, he definitely had that. And so much anger. He was able to talk about in a way that was, about how the truth embargo, which was the governments supposed policy in the 1940s to contain the truth about UFOs through ridicule. He talked about it as if that was responsible for everything that’s going on in the world today. Like in terms of the Middle East, Syria…that the separation between military intelligence and the president over the UFO is what’s caused the rift within government that has enabled these wars. Him being able to extrapolate these huge societal issues that are real from this thing, Roswell and other incidents, that don’t have widely accepted evidence behind them. That compelled me. That he had a real social and political drive behind what he was doing. IT wasn’t just a fascination with aliens. He wanted to save the world and this is how he believed he could cure all the ills of the world by getting the government to reveal secret about its ET contacts. That spirit is what made me think he might be worth pursuing.

How did you navigate you interest in that passion, that engagement with your degree of belief you have in the truthfulness of what he was saying?

Lo: When I first got the call from FoV to look into him, I started to read about UFO people and books written by seemingly credible sources like Harvard professor John E. Mac called abduction. This was the book that changed Steven Bassett’s life. There were all these accounts of people—-contactees they’re called—when I started reading these books, the message in the book was beautiful one. These are people who have experienced things and are constantly ridiculed because of outer forces that discredit what they’re saying. But from this one profressor’s research, it seemed that all these contactees experiences some sort of benevolent aliens. Or aliens that had a mission to save humanity from themselves. All of these UFOs people that I was reading seemed to come from a very activist place. They saw all these political ills, and they tied them…they determined maybe aliens would come save us. There’s a kind of desperation in it. But it also was reflective of things that are happening now. The introductions of the books are very eloquently written, but then as I got further into their specific stories, I didn’t find it all that believable. At least to me I couldn’t get behind it. Then I read another book by Lesley Keen [sp] called UFOs something something and hers is a very conservative book in that it doesn’t extrapolate what seeing a UFO means. It just says there are these unidentified flying objects in the sky and all of these experts have looked into it and not many people on society know this, but 5% of these sightings cannot be explained away. And I thought, “how can we not know that 5% of UFOs don’t have any logical explanation?” But then in my head I’m really skeptical of the drawings and things that were popping up. But as this whole movement has been characterized by ridicule, and because UFO enthusiasts are so sensitive to that including Stephen, even though as I got to know this issue more in my own way, I was becoming more and more distanced from it. I still felt as a filmmaker I had an obligation to not create a piece that was taking it down. That felt wrong to me on a larger level because so much has been made ridiculing this community. In the edit it was this balance between trying to hold my own prejudices at beat because who I am to say, I have not been influenced by all the cultural factors that would lead me to not take this subject as seriously as these people do. I think it would be a more interesting viewing experience to have moments of doubt within themselves and have them wonder…are the Clintons really involved in this? Why would John Podesta, the Campaign Chairman for Hilary Clinton be talking about this issue. And question their own beliefs a little bit. Even though personally I am very skeptical.

This fascinates me when you’re honoring a point of view about which you have skepticism. And how you honor that without promoting it. You didn’t have a lot of time to manage that.

Lo: I had been making lots of cuts and showing them to friends before I turned one in to Field of Vision and in my footage I had material that showed Stephen’s character flaws. That seemed to convey that this all was about creating a legacy for himself and not about saving the world. I put together cuts that made it seem like more of a character study of someone who is flawed and fighting for somebody, but the sense was that it was undercutting him too much. So I ended up with a cut that took out all of those moments and that was the first cut I showed to FoV, where the point of view was pretty strasightfoeward and it didn’t play with any humor and it didn’t reveal any of the cracks in my experience with him. And FoV came back and said it made him seem too credible which must have been my overcompensation. The next cuts were about balancing that and how much to inject of these moments of folly.

It makes sense that this would be a productive way to go about it. Err one way, err in the other direction and then find a party in the middle.

Lo: At the same time, there are these very rare moment where I wonder if there is something bending this. What if you put out a piece that falls on the wrong side of history. These are rare moments, but that thought did occur to me. As a filmmaker you want to stay open, I think. And not shut down especially when you have the trust of whoever you’re working with. Extend him the same benefit I would extend another fringe community.

You’re dealing with point of view. The film doesn’t have to adopt that point of view, but you can still represent that. And it seems like that what this film is doing. There is a sense of…you can get deeper into a point of view than an entirely removed skeptical approach.

Lo: That’s a great way of distinguishing between adopting POV and representing it. A lot of my approach is quite averse to character-based filmmaking, maybe just because I’m not used to it or I was a little bit afraid of hanging whole films on a single person. So this was a challenge because the film was about him. Part of my reservation, especially with a short was: how do you cram in someone’s whole life story or POV in ten minutes. You’re going to muck it up somehow. Trying to make this piece at least represent some of what drives Steven and what his past and what he looks forward to, trying to squeeze that all into a short was a kind of uncomfortable process for me. But I do feel like the film as it is right now does convey just enough of how much personal life is important to the short and weaving in archivel or other issues like the presidency and politics and woven that in with his personal quirks and balance that. I don’t think his personal details would sustain a larger project.

Would you make another film about a character?

Lo: Sometimes I wonder if it’s…people have strengths and weaknesses…casting is a talent and I feel more comfortable or I feel lime my strengths are places and not necessarily telling people’s stories, but glimpsing into a physical reality more and not necessarily working with the past in explicit ways that this does. I tend to try and pick topics that are more actives. And I do have this self doubt that I can cast characters well. And I think that’s probably a shortcoming as a filmmaker and I probably should keep pursuing it even if it makes me uncomfortable. This was a really good dip into this category of filmmaking. I feel most natural when it’s…I think what also makes me feel uncomfortable when you do character-based filmmaking because your relationship becomes more intimate that navigation as a filmmaker with a person you’ve developed a bond wit, balancing your loyalty to that individual versus your loyalty to the story that you want to ell or the the reality of there world as you see it. I think that’s very hard. I think I pick topics that don’t necessarily engage that tension as much. I don’t know if that’s for better or for worse. But obviously, that’s what always challenging about this piece. I know Stephen. I have a relationship with him. Trying to balance that with the film’s objectivity out subjectivity. But if you’re not working with a single character, your loyalty’s just to the film itself. And that can be very freeing but I also see I should push myself in the other direction.

I want to talk about your approach stylistically. I’m curious about how you decided to shoot this. How this was going to look? What did you think about starting off? What there a strategy visually?

Lo: It kind of just happened organically because it was my first sort of character piece, I went to the conference and met Stephan and started following him around. I guess this another thing about working with main characters: I guess you should be able to collaborate with them more in terms of setting up shots, which is something I’m very averse to, but I had to learn this balance, when you’re following them around everywhere my camera had less control than previously where characters didn’t matter, it was just a space and my camera could just stay in place and I had control. In this situation, he had more control than the camera. In terms of his work as a lobbyist, too, a lot of his work is online, and he’s just at home, and that wasn’t necessarily stuff he wanted to reveal. Audit’s not a physical thing…all of this speculation…you can’t put a camera on to record. Even his activities as a lobbyist had happened in the past and maybe would happen in the future. There’s some states about this topic or at least his involvement . So I had to find things for him to do. And that was really challenging for me. A lot of it was sort of following him around. And because he has a very clear idea of how things should be portrayed, and also he’s extrmelet talkative that shaped the style of the film. I was just kind of reacting to him rather trying to impose style.

I imagine you’re doing a fair amount of shooting for the editing, too. Because you’re finding of way to represent things and thinking about shooting things you might need later on.

Lo: Initially I thought I might create animations to go over the live action footage because the stuff weren’t things you could film. As I was editing, animation felt like it wouldn’t necessarily match and that it might undercut it a little bit.

How are you feeling about this going out into the world in terms of your relationship with Steven?

EL: I feel like the film does strike a pretty good balance between portraying him fairly and portraying his viewpoints with how he sees the Clintons being involved and those views I am sure that he’ll have some issue with it but probably because it oversimplifies things or presents some details about his life he wouldn’t want out there. I don’t know how he’ll respond, but I hope he’ll respond positively. I don’t think the film falls into a ridiculing category in terms of its treatment of the UFO issue. Which I think he’ll feel is a positive step in terms of the media.

It sounds like you’ll have a conversation about it that’ll maybe be an extension of some other conversations you’ve had with him to date.

EL: Definitely. (...) One thing I wanted to say is how this film relates to the observational mode of filmmaking which relies less on verbal exposition. Relying so much on the audio, instead of letting the images speak for themselves was a challenge.

I think you do some nice work when you’re shooting him in the car and you’re wandering and finding other things to show that are pretty important. Like the hangers in the back of the car. What he’s saying will be important, but you’re still capturing things that are meaningful.

Field of Vision is partnering with Lawyers for Reporters to launch a free legal clinic for freelancers working in documentary in the United States. This program will provide legal information about specific topics and possible referrals to pro bono legal counsel.

Lawyers for Reporters is a joint project of the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice and First Look Media’s Press Freedom Defense Fund that provides pro bono legal assistance to local journalists and media organizations.

Our volunteer lawyers can provide people working as freelancers in the documentary film community in the U.S. with information about the following subjects:

  • Newsgathering rights and potential legal exposure from newsgathering (but we cannot advocate on your behalf regarding Freedom of Information (FOI) requests).
  • Legal risks of publishing content, such as defamation, invasion of privacy, and copyright infringement
  • Licenses, releases, and other content- and distribution-related contracts, but excluding film financing and other complex agreements
  • Risk assessment for filmmaking and security issues

If you are interested in receiving information and a possible referral to pro bono counsel, please fill out the intake form below. After your request is received, a member of our team will let you know whether an information session with our volunteer lawyers can be scheduled.

Intake Form Here.

Please note:

  • This program can only provide information, not legal advice.
  • Completing an intake form does not automatically qualify you for an information session.
  • Submitting an intake form and discussing a matter with a volunteer lawyer does not create an attorney-client relationship that would protect confidential information from disclosure in a legal proceeding.
  • A referral to pro bono counsel is not guaranteed even after a consultation.
Image from The Trial by Johanna Hamilton.

IF/Then Shorts, in partnership with Hulu Documentary Films calls short-documentary filmmakers based in North America to take part in the Inaugural IF/Then x Hulu Short Documentary Lab. This lab will channel Hulu and IF/Then’s shared vision of creating a new pipeline of diverse talent and incubating strong voices who will be the next class of non-fiction storytellers.

Program Details:

Four filmmaking teams will be chosen to participate in a one-year lab focused on short-documentary production and career training. For the first six months, filmmakers will be individually mentored through production by IF/Then staff and take part in monthly virtual cohort trainings, consisting of keynotes from industry heavy-hitters and edit consultations. Upon rough cut of their projects, filmmakers will be invited to debut their works-in-progress to an invitation-only audience and receive feedback. For the remainder of the program, filmmakers will finalize their cuts and receive high-level festival and distribution strategy consultations, along with guidance creating their publicity materials, and pro-bono legal support. Hulu will have the right to review the projects for potential acquisition or further development.

Each team will receive a $25,000 grant to use for the production of their film.

This opportunity will be open to individuals living in/from North America, with an emphasis on Black and/or Indigenous filmmakers, people of color, women, LGBTQ+, recent immigrants, and individuals who identify as having a disability. We will welcome any and all stories from underrepresented voices, with a strong preference around subjects related to gender, the LGTBQ community or issues unique to the BIPOC community.

Project Eligibility:

  • In addition to the identity eligibility of the maker and the theme, eligible IF/Then Shorts projects must meet the following criteria:
  • Be an original short documentary with a final duration of 10-20 minutes
  • Be completed within six to nine months of receiving the IF/Then Shorts grant
  • Be factually accurate, follow best practices in documentary ethics, and be designed for a U.S. audience
  • Be driven by (a) compelling character(s), with access to the character(s) secured
  • Be presented in English or subtitled in English
  • Have no prior distribution attached and be able to participate in the IF/Then Shorts distribution initiative
  • All stories and storytellers coming from countries and territories in North America. This includes the United States and its territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa,) Canada, Greenland, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Venezuela, and countries in the Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, The Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Clipperton Island, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Saba, St. Andres and Providencia, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands.

KEY DATES:

The application portal will open on January 15, 2021 and close at 11:59pm EST on Feb 15th.

  • January 15, 2021: Open call for IF/Then x Hulu Short Documentary Lab
  • March 31, 2021: Finalists announced
  • April 5, 2021: Virtual Program Kickoff

APPLY:

Submissions are now closed.

Please direct any questions regarding this application to ifthenshorts@fieldofvision.org

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 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.

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

Shorts

Days of Black and Yellow (10 min.)

Lotfy Nathan, Willie Miesmer and Ray Levé

Scenes from a Dry City (12 min.)

Simon Wood and François Verster

More to Watch

The Trial (15 min.)

Johanna Hamilton

Crooked Lines (11 min.)

Monica Berra, Yoruba Richen and Jacqueline Olive

Nuuca (12 min.)

Michelle Latimer

44 Messages from Catalonia (18 min.)

Anna Giralt Gris and Ross Domoney

CamperForce (16 min.)

Brett Story and Jessica Bruder

Graven Image (10 min.)

Sierra Pettengill

Our 100 Days 7/7

American Carnage (9 min.)

Farihah Zaman and Jeff Reichert

The Town I Live In (10 min.)

Matt Wolf and Guadalupe Rosales

Captured in Sudan (28 min.)

Phil Cox, Daoud Hari and Giovanna Stopponi

Timberline (12 min.)

Elaine McMillion Sheldon

Duterte’s Hell (8 min.)

Aaron Goodman and Luis Liwanag

Conditioned Response (6 min.)

Craig Atkinson and Laura Hartrick

Our 100 Days 4/7

Here I’ll Stay (10 min.)

Lorena Manríquez and Marlene McCurtis

Our 100 Days 3/7

An Uncertain Future (11 min.)

Chelsea Hernandez and Iliana Sosa

Our 100 Days 1/7

An Act of Worship (9 min.)

Sofian Khan and Nausheen Dadabhoy

The Moderators (20 min.)

Adrian Chen and Ciaran Cassidy

Clowns (7 min.)

Alex Kliment, Dana O'Keefe and Mike Tucker

Project X (10 min.)

Laura Poitras and Henrik Moltke

Hopewell (3 min.)

Lorena Manríquez

The Vote (12 min.)

Mila Aung-Thwin and Van Royko

Like (9 min.)

Garrett Bradley

Concerned Student 1950 (32 min.)

Adam Dietrich, Varun Bajaj and Kellan Marvin

Peace in the Valley (15 min.)

Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher

Homeland is not a Series (7 min.)

Arabian Street Artists Heba Y. Amin, Caram Kapp and Don Karl aka Stone

#ThisIsACoup 4/4

Surrender or Die (16 min.)

Theopi Skarlatos and Paul Mason

Eric & “Anna” (14 min.)

Kelly Duane de la Vega and Katie Galloway

Birdie (14 min.)

Heloisa Passos

The Above (8 min.)

Kirsten Johnson