• Projects in pre-production, production, or post-production. Distribution or engagement does not qualify.
  • Well-written and well-researched proposals.
  • Team leadership must reflect the communities whose story is being told. (“Nothing About Us Without Us!”)
  • Strong work samples (for films in production or post-production).
  • Feasibility of the project (budget, financing, schedule, and scope).
  • Confirmed access to subjects and story.
  • Originality of form, approach, or content.
  • Potential to generate public discourse.


  • Funds may not be used to cover previously incurred expenses.
  • Applicants may submit only one project per funding cycle.
  • Previously funded projects should not apply for the same grant, even if in a different stage of production.
  • Grantees must submit narrative and financial reports during the course of the grant period, along with photos, other publicity materials, and credits when available.
  • SDF support must be acknowledged with a tag line and logo-of similar size and stature to other logos in the credits-at the end credits of the film as well as on all publicity and promotional materials relating to the production.


  • Applicants must have a US social security number or US federal tax ID number.
  • Applicants must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Projects must be non-fiction documentaries.
  • Applicants must own the copyright of their production, and have editorial and budgetary control over their project.
  • Applicants must not be enrolled in a film school or seeking funds for a student project.  
  • You do not need a fiscal sponsor in order to apply for a grant.
  • New, emerging and established makers are encouraged to apply.

Questions Checklist (for reference only)

Tips (See what our panelists are looking for) 

2019 Applications are now Open!





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