Thank you for your interest in the MacArthur Foundation’s Documentary Open Call. We know that you are passionate about your work (we are too) and are eager to talk about it and to share your enthusiasm. We wish we had time to discuss your project with you and to answer your questions individually. However, we have a small staff and are unable to respond to phone or email requests. We appreciate your understanding. The following are answers to some frequently asked questions we have encountered during previous open calls. We invite you to use these as a resource when considering whether to apply, and refer to them if questions arise as you prepare your application.
May I request a deadline extension for special circumstances?
I have new footage and need a few more days to assemble and upload my work-in-progress, I am out of the country and don't have reliable Internet access, etc.
No extensions will be granted. Complete proposals must be received electronically by 3:00pm (CST) on July 31, 2013. Late submissions will not be considered. (We advise you not to wait until the last moment in case our system experiences technical challenges due to a high volume of proposals being submitted at once.)
Does MacArthur fund documentaries about the arts? What about sports documentaries?
My film follows a contemporary artist/musical group/sports team with contemporary relevance.
We realize that films about the arts and sports can reflect important social issues. If your project uses the arts or sports as an entry point for audiences to examine an underreported, significant social issue, you may apply.
May I request a deadline extension for special circumstances?
I have new footage and need a few more days to assemble and upload my work-in-progress, I am out of the country and don’t have reliable Internet access, etc.
No extensions will be granted. Complete proposals must be received electronically by 3:00pm (CDT) on Wednesday, July 31, 2013. Late submissions will not be considered. (We advise you not to wait until the last moment in case our system fails due to a high volume of proposals being submitted at once.)
Will the Foundation accept partially completed applications?
Proposals that are incomplete will not be considered.
May I send the application by email, mail, delivery service, fax, or in person?
We are accepting applications online only. Completed applications must be submitted by 3:00pm CDT on Wednesday, July 31, 2013. (Submissions will begin being accepted on July 15, 2013).
I am fundraising for my project through a fiscal sponsor or agent.
All of my other funders are supporting my project through this fiscal sponsor/agent. May I apply through my fiscal sponsor/agent?
We understand that this is a common and desirable practice in the field. However, MacArthur does not award grants through fiscal sponsors or agents. The organization applying for the grant must be able to accurately state that it has complete editorial and financial control over the project for which it is applying.
I am not sure if my project aligns with a MacArthur program area. May I contact the Foundation for more clarity?
Please read the program and topic descriptions by following the links at the top of our website and use your best judgment. We cannot answer phone or email inquiries. While we do give preference to projects that connect to a MacArthur program interest (e.g., human rights, conservation, peace and security, affordable housing, juvenile justice, etc.), we also support films on other topics. If your project is about a serious and important social issue that is of interest to a broad audience, we encourage you to apply.
Do you accept proposals for web-native documentaries?
Yes. Although preference is given to documentaries intended for broadcast, we will consider web-based projects provided their subject and approach fit the criteria listed in our open call guidelines, and there is a strong plan for broad dissemination.
My project is in the research and development phase, so I do not have a sample to send as part of my application. May I still apply?
May I send a sample of my previous work?
If your project is in the research and development stage, we advise you to wait until you are further along in the production process before applying for a MacArthur grant. It is highly unlikely that your project will progress to the semi-final round of consideration without a sample for the review panel to view. Please do not send a sample of previous work in lieu of a sample of the work-in- progress.
My film is almost finished and I am mostly looking for outreach and distribution support.
Does the Foundation fund outreach or distribution activities?
This program is primarily intended to support the production and post-production activities associated with a documentary film project. While we appreciate the important role of outreach, public engagement and distribution activities, we are looking for projects seeking support for production and post-production activities.
My sample work-in-progress does not meet your 3-20 minute length requirement. May I still send it?
You may, but please know that it may negatively impact the Foundation’s assessment of the project. We expect experienced filmmakers to be able to edit a 3-20 minute representative sample appropriate for these circumstances.
I am not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, but living and working in the U.S. at the moment on my film. May I apply?
We make grants to legally incorporated organizations in the U.S. If you are affiliated with, or have been hired by, a U.S. organization to produce/direct this project, the head of the organization should apply and list you as the primary filmmaking contact person for the project.
If I make significant progress on my project or have significant news to share after the submission deadline,
...may I send an update to the Foundation?
Yes, if the significant progress or news is about a major new funding commitment, broadcast commitment, or you have a substantially different sample to share. You may submit this update by logging into your online user account and following the instructions provided there.
I submitted a documentary film proposal in response to a previous open call but my project was not funded. May I reapply for this round?
Please refer to your email from the Foundation notifying you of the outcome of our consideration for the project you submitted in a previous round. If the letter discourages you from reapplying, we advise you not to reapply with the same project. If you have made a substantial change in the focus, direction, or treatment of the project since you last applied, which you believe makes the project more in line with the present guidelines, you may reapply. If our correspondence encouraged you to reapply, we invite you to do so.
If I do not hear from the Foundation, may I contact the Foundation for an update?
We are sorry but we are not able to respond to phone or email questions. If you do not hear from the Foundation before September 2013, there is a high probability that your project is not among those being considered in the semi-final round. The Foundation will announce grant decisions in the last quarter of 2013 and send notices to all other applicants around the same time.
But I am facing a critical timing issue and need to know where my application stands at MacArthur.
I am trying to finish my film to meet an upcoming festival deadline, I am in discussions with other funders, I am trying to secure the time of a great editor, or I have run out of money and will have to stop filming, etc.
While we appreciate that these types of situations may arise and would like to be helpful, we are sorry to say that we will not be responding to these requests.
I have a question that is not addressed in the guidelines or the FAQ’s. May I email or call the Foundation?
or I have run out of money and will have to stop filming, etc.
We are sorry but we are unable to respond to phone or email questions. Please use your best judgment and submit a proposal to the best of your ability.