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2024 Enterprise Production Guidelines

IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund supports in-depth explorations of original, contemporary stories that integrate journalistic practice into the filmmaking process.

Mission and Objective

IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund supports in-depth explorations of original, contemporary stories that integrate journalistic practice into the filmmaking process. 

The Enterprise Documentary Fund was established in 2017 to respond to the needs of documentarians working alone or in small teams who are increasingly taking on high-stakes storytelling which was once the domain of legacy media. The fund prioritizes projects attempting to combat the misinformation being shared on social media and other internet platforms, using journalistic principles (such as fact-checking and rigorous, methodical research) to arrive at a verifiable truth.

In recent years, many organizations have emerged to support this type of filmmaking with resources, educational programming, and advocacy. IDA is proud to be a part of this effort. IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund seeks to support crucial facts-based storytelling while helping filmmakers retain their independent voices and artistic visions.

Since 2021, the Fund has increased access and resources for filmmakers outside of the United States. The issues of press freedom, facts-based storytelling, and mediamaking are urgent at a global scale. As our information infrastructure becomes more globalized, filmmakers from all over the world must have access to resources that can elevate their voices. 

With support from The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund provides production funds to documentary films using journalistic research practice while making cinematic and artistically rigorous work accessible to general audiences.


Applicant Eligibility

  • Applicant must be the director and/or a producer who shares creative and editorial oversight of the project. 
  • The applicant must be 18 years of age or older.
  • The applicant must be an independent filmmaker working on an original project. For the purposes of this grant, IDA defines an independent filmmaker as a content creator who both owns the copyright of his or her work and has full artistic, budgetary, and editorial control of the documentary project. Documentaries being produced for or under the direction of a third party, such as a broadcast entity, university, foundation, or nonprofit organization are ineligible.
  • Applicants can apply from anywhere in the world. The applicant is not required to have nonprofit status or fiscal sponsorship at the time of application. 
    • If you do not have a U.S.-based crew member who can accept funds on behalf of the project, then if awarded the project will need to have a Fiscal Sponsor
  • At least one director and/or producer on the film must have directed and/or produced a minimum of two feature-length films (40 minutes or longer). One person has to hold both credits. 
  • The applicant is not required to be a member of IDA.

Application Eligibility

  • All required Application Questions need to be answered. If a question has multiple parts, then all parts must be addressed in order to be considered.
  • The proposal must include an online work sample of 10-15 minutes in length. Rough cuts will not be reviewed. If you submit a sample longer than 15 minutes, only the first 15 minutes will be reviewed, unless you note which 15 minutes the reviewers should watch. Add that note to your work sample description. 
  • Work samples shorter than 10 minutes will not be considered.
  • As of 2023, we will require that current work samples have captions. They can be open captions, subtitles with audio descriptions, or closed captions. Current work samples without captions will not be considered.
  • Work samples should not be changed throughout the selection period- June through October of 2024.

Project Eligibility

  • Film must be in production and funds must be used for production costs only. Production costs may include travel, gear rental, office expenses, production insurance, deferred payments to crew, and legal expenses during the production period. Films with principal research and development completed are especially encouraged to apply. Films nearing the end of production will be considered but must have production expenses remaining. Funds can’t be used for finishing color and sound after picture lock, but we do consider editor salaries and edit-related costs as part of the production.
  • Access to major film participants must be secured.
  • The film must be intended to reach a large and broad audience. A broadcast or distribution commitment is not required.
  • Stories must be original, relevant to contemporary audiences, and of an urgent or critically important nature. Purely historical films will only be considered if they have a significant contemporary component or narrative.
  • NOT eligible to apply: Biographies, branded content, student films, completed films, films that are purely historical, and short documentaries (under 40 minutes finished run time)

Supported Activities

Eligible projects will be in the production stage, having completed the bulk of research and development but still having production or post-production-related work and expenses remaining. Grant funds may be used for production and post-production related expenses incurred during the period of support.

Expenses may include line items such as principal photography, travel, equipment purchase or rental, insurance, rights and clearances, editing, and crew salaries. The fund does not support expenses related to fundraising, distribution, publicity, marketing, or outreach.

Period of Support

The official grant period of concentrated support is one year from the date of the grant award. Filmmakers are strongly encouraged to use their grant funds within that first year. The project will continue to receive bespoke IDA support after the first granting year until the film is complete. The team is expected to send an annual report and updated budget until the project is complete. 

Grant Award Range

Grants made will range from approximately $25,000-75,000.

Evaluation Criteria

IDA staff and a committee that may include journalists, filmmakers, scholars, programmers, and industry professionals will review applications and accompanying materials through a confidential selection process. Evaluators will take the following into consideration:

  • Does the applicant, application, and project, as presented, meet the grant goals and eligibility requirements for Enterprise?
  • Does the story and filmmaking approach have journalistic integrity and integrate journalistic practices?
    • Journalistic practice must be integral to the project, with a commitment to accuracy, fairness, ethical practices, and assembling, verifying, and presenting accurate facts and visual materials.
    • Journalistic practice is broadly defined and may include, but is not limited to: extensive research, accessing public records or data, an accountability or investigative approach, or the navigation of hostile environments and protection of sources.the need to protect sources or media or navigating hostile environments.
  • Does the project take an innovative approach to the subject matter? If this story has been told before, does this project's approach bring something new to the story?
  • What is the filmmaker's connection to the community in which the story is about? If the filmmaker is an outsider, how will he/she/they engage and collaborate with the community?
  • Has access to the film participant(s) and location(s) been secured?
  • What is the quality of the work sample provided? Does the work sample support the written materials, and is it clear what the sample represents?
  • Does the application clearly illustrate the story and narrative structure, the filmmakers’ vision, the contemporary relevance of the story and the project’s journalistic approach?
  • Are the Project Director and production team assembled experienced and capable of completing the project as described?
  • Does the application identify an audience and a realistic plan to reach that audience? 
  • Is the budget thorough and realistic? Are line items in the budget within industry norms and standards? Does the budget reflect what is written in the application?