Though not all grants/labs are the same, at some point you'll have to write a Director's Note or something like it, where you explain your film, why you're making it, and who you're making it with. Nathalie from Mentorless has been working on getting her first feature made, In Five Years, and she's been vlogging the whole process. In the newest episode, she explains the Director's Note and gives some help on what you might want to include in one if you need to write your own:

Though Nathalie's was a little longer than one page, ideally that's what you'd try to settle on. Here are all eight of her tips:

  1. Who is the director?
  2. What or who is this film about?
  3. Why this film in particular? Why do you want to shoot it? Why are you willing to spend years on this? Is it related to personal experiences, true story, etc.?
  4. Why this theme? Why this location? Why this character?
  5. Why this producer? Often you have to be a team of two at least, so many grants won't let you apply by yourself.
  6. How are you planning to shoot it? Technical details, music, etc.
  7. Why these collaborators? Actor, DP, etc.
  8. References to other works.

As for the Ava DuVernay speech at SXSW in 2015, here's the video that Nathalie was talking about:

Simon Sinek speaking at TEDx:

For more, be sure to head on over to her website, or subscribe to her YouTube channel to make sure you follow all of her updates. If you have any more tips that you've used applying to a grant/lab, please share them below!

Source: Mentorless