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July 11, 2013

Can This Silly Flow Chart Help You Get a $200K MacArthur Foundation Grant?

MacFound Doc Front Page Image_v2Boy, I sure could use $50,000 to $200,000 for my next film, how about you? Starting July 15th, the big daddy of documentary grants is opening their application process: the MacArthur Foundation Media Program. But this Documentary Film Open Call is highly competitive and very specific. So specific, that it might just hurt your brain to go over all of said specifics. So to ease the pain, I took the liberty of creating a snappy flow chart that is no less confusing, but hey, it might help you figure out if your project could be the next MacFound superstar.

Having spent a lot of time applying for grants I didn't get, I can offer no help with how to get them, but rather, whether you should apply or not.

NFS_macarthur foundation open call flow chart3

That is correct: no biographies, no historical docs, no first timers, and it should align with one of MacFound’s current initiatives. A lot of requirements, but if you fit, you could be up for some serious cash! If you made it past this gauntlet and are seriously thinking of applying by the final deadline --July 31, 2013 -- check out the MacArthur guidelines for yourself. (Let's face it, the above chart may or may not be entirely foolproof.) Finally, here is MacArthur Foundation's overall pitch for 200,000 smackers:

The MacArthur Foundation's Media Program supports the production of documentary films that illuminate human stories within complex social issues. These issues are often critical to our lives, but under-reported in other media. We especially look to fund projects designed to reach a broad audience, particularly in the U.S., through public television broadcast, via community and policymaker screenings, and online.

MacArthur grantees have churned out films like Electoral Dysfunction and Seeking Refuge,so if that sounds like you, good luck. And if you have gotten a grant from a fine institution such as the MacArthur Foundation, please tell us how you did it!

Link: MacArthur Foundation Documentary Open Call

Your Comment

12 Comments

And this is helpful how?
Just an outpouring of bitterness!

July 11, 2013

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Fresno Bob

I think you're taking this flow chart too seriously. Just a way to give basic info about a great grant.

July 11, 2013

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BIG AL

Hey Bob - I think the bitterness comes in a healthy dose, but feel free to discuss where you think I got it all wrong! I like to joke about rejection and failure (why not) but I should mention this flow chart is indeed directly based on the MacFound guidelines page - they want applicants to understand how specific they are with their selection to save everybody's time.

July 11, 2013

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Oakley Anderson-Moore
Writer
Director/Editor
162

Which is to say, they only want to help people who don't need their help, and only want to take risks on projects that aren't a risk.

July 11, 2013

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André

I'd say they're looking for filmmakers who align with thier values and have a proven track record, but if I was angry that I personally didn't qualify for every available grant out there I'd go with your characterization.

July 11, 2013

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Thanks Oakley - very useful. Mainly because this is a grant whose timing is ideal for our doc - much appreciate your post as a 'heads-up' for us. I.e. we've got a well-produced 11 minute short.

Do you think MacFund is trying to expedite the doc pipeline using this 'quick window' tactic?

I particularly liked your chart entry about the 'sarcasm' - funny!

Bitterness? No, I'd call it satire.

July 12, 2013

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I'm glad to hear it! Good luck applying with your current short. I don't know for sure, but I think you're right that the 'quick window' tactic is meant to thin the applicants...it certainly eliminates the sarcastic procrastinators like yours truly. :)

July 12, 2013

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Oakley Anderson-Moore
Writer
Director/Editor
162

So unless your team is led by a team experienced in distributing docs, you have no chance of getting a grant?

July 11, 2013

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steve

MacFound says they fund projects "led by experienced U.S.-based filmmaking teams that have past success in bringing a documentary project to successful completion and reaching broad U.S. audiences." So basically you have to have at least one successfully distributed doc to your credit (or can recruit somebody who has?) to get a chunk of their change.

July 11, 2013

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Oakley Anderson-Moore
Writer
Director/Editor
162

Haha, nicely done! There's a small chance I could squeeze through those criteria if I had a project currently in the works, but unfortunately I don't and 20 days isn't quite enough to get one up and running :) I guess you need to be anticipating these short openings in advance!

July 11, 2013

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Brian

This is hilarious. Great idea using a flowchart to explain the process.

July 11, 2013

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Haha very clever and helpful. Twofer. Thanks!

July 12, 2013

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Jared