Media Grant Guidelines: Frequently Asked Questions

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 11:59pm (CST) on September 7, 2012. 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.)

Will the Foundation accept partially completed applications?

No. Proposals that are incomplete will not be considered.

May I send the application by mail, delivery service, fax, or in person?

No. We are accepting applications by email only. Completed applications must be sent to by 11:59pm (CST) on September 7, 2012.

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 prefers not to work through fiscal sponsors or agents.

I am not sure if my project aligns with a MacArthur program area. May I contact the Foundation for more clarity?

No. Please read the program and topic descriptions by following the links at the top of our website and use your best judgment. 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.

I have a standard project description that exceeds 6 pages. For Part 2 of my proposal (description of the film), may I send what I have?

No. Please adhere to the guidelines and make every effort to send in a description that does not exceed six pages.

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. Please send the update electronically via with “Documentary Grant Proposal: [YOUR ORG’S NAME]” in the subject line. However, please note that these updates may not be acknowledged or considered, depending on the timing of the submission in relation to the review process.

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?

No. If you do not hear from the Foundation before the end of 2012, 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 first quarter of 2013 and send notices to all other applicants around the same time. The only time you should call is if shortly after you submit your application online, you do not receive an automated acknowledgement of the receipt of that submission.

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?

No. Please use your best judgment and submit a proposal to the best of your ability.