The deadline for submitting new projects comes once per quarter: January 15, April 15, July 15, and October 15.
The application process is now electronic! To apply, send an email with all of the following items to info[AT]southerndocumentaryfund[DOT]org
- Application Form and Proposal (as PDF attachment. No .doc or .docx).
- Budget (as PDF attachment).
- Work sample of your current project and/or a past project. You will need to upload your samples to a media sharing site such as vimeo or youtube. Be sure to include any passwords with your links.
- There is a $50 non-refundable application fee. Send a check payable to "The Southern Documentary Fund" and mail to: The Southern Documentary Fund
762 Ninth St. #574
Durham, NC 27705
You can also make the fee payment via PayPal
Please note that your application is not complete until the application fee has been paid. Be sure to read below for Proposal Requirements. All submissions must be received by 5pm on the deadline date. Late submissions will not be considered.
After your application materials are submitted, a rotating four-person Project Review committee, consisting of two SDF board members and two documentary artists, will meet to consider the project. The committee will then consider whether to recommend the project to the Board of Directors, which will make final decisions. You can expect to hear back about a decision within 2-3 weeks of the deadline. If approved, the Project Director will sign the Fiscal Sponsorship Agreement.
If accepted, SDF applies a 5% administrative fee to all funds received for the project. A 7% fee will be assessed to certain projects whose funding comes from grant sources that require additional reporting from SDF.
Project Selection Criteria
Acceptance of your application is largely based on the following criteria:
- The relevance or merit of the subject matter
- Quality of the proposal
- Experience levels of key personnel
- A well-developed and realistic budget
- Fundraising ability
- The project's relationship to the SDF Mission Statement
- Distribution potential
Your proposal must give both a description and work plan for the project. Generally, proposals are between 8-10 pages, including the budget (but not including the resumes of key personnel). Your proposal must address the following:
- Title Page: Include a 1-2 sentence description of the project, the length and format of the project, and contact information for the project director(s). The short description should give a clear sense of the subject matter, the point of view, and narrative style of your project.
- Introduction/Background (if appropriate): Provide information about the subject matter addressed in the film/video (generally 2-3 paragraphs). Why is the project needed and how did you become involved with it? Have there been other projects on the same topic? If yes, how is yours different?
- Project Description: Describe the film/video specifically and visually, explaining the approach to the subject, the style, and organization of the material (generally a page and half).
- Audience and Distribution Strategy: Who is your primary audience? Describe them in as much detail as possible. For whom are you making this project? How will you reach them? What venues or distributors will you be approaching and why?
- Fundraising Plan: Include the total costs of the project (and, if applicable, the amount raised or committed to date in the form of contributions, in-kind donations of services or equipment, waived fees, etc.) and the fundraising goal, with a discussion of the strategy and sources for raising funds. How are you going to fund this project? Give specific names of foundations, corporations and agencies that you will be applying to for your project. Specify the amounts you are planning on requesting from these sources and any funds you have already received so that they add up to the total amount of your budget. Are you going to individual donors for solicitations? Are you planning a fundraiser?, etc. If available, please include information on other projects for which you have successfully raised funds. Applications without a thorough fundraising plan will not be considered.
- Project Status and Completion Timeline: Outline what has been accomplished to date, and the stages and approximate lengths of time for each stage leading to completion.
- Key Personnel: Include a paragraph about each of the project's principal production staff (or include resumes and biographies for each). If applicable, you may also include references and letters of recommendation in this section.
- Work Sample Descriptions and Links: You must submit work sample of the project for which you are applying. If you do not have a sample of the project for which you are applying, please submit a sample of your previous work. If this is your first project of any kind, we will consider a sample from members of your principal production team (a director, co-producer, writer, cinematographer, or editor, for example). Provide a 1-2 paragraph explanation of any works samples you are submitting with your application. Include links where these items can be viewed and be sure to provide any password protection for sites, such as vimeo or youtube. .
- Project Budget: Outline your income and expenses (Sample Budget). We suggest a three-column format with the total budget, in-kind, and amount needed. The budget may be arranged either chronologically (pre-production, production, and post-production, and, if appropriate, distribution) or by key areas of expense (e.g. salaries, fees, supplies, equipment rentals, travel, services, office, etc.). In either case, the budget breakdown should include unit pricing, as well as grand totals. It should list expenditures already made on the project and itemize in-kind contributions, whether previously made or anticipated. In most cases, the budget should be no more than 4 pages.