Documentary Fund Proposal Checklist

The film proposal and business plan acquaints the reader to the subject, advising why the topic is interesting and why such a film is needed now. Explain any contemporary social or global relevance for the topic.

  • Describe why you are pursuing this project and why you are the best person to tell this story.
  • Two-pages synopsis
  • Director’s Visual Concept
  • Description of elements in your Production Company
  • Detailed Budget
  • Financing Plan (indicating which sources/ partners of the financing are already confirmed, which one you have applied for or when you apply for)
  • Full Script or Advanced Treatment in case of submitting a documentary film project
  • Financing agreements or letters of intent from financing partners
  • Co-production / co-operation agreement(s) or deal memos
  • Director’s previous film(s) on DVD

Proposal must contain the following:

  • Story Summary (Narrative Synopsis)
  • What story or question is your film following?
  • What is your likely story structure? This section might describe who the characters or subjects are and what is their journey? Here you might chose to communicate how the film in intended to unfold from beginning to end. This section is an opportunity to reflect on the potential mission, stakes, central question or possible outcomes.

Development proposals are strongly encouraged to submit clips, trailers and visual material. How does it reflect the intended story, style, subject, etc.

Project Stage

Clearly communicate a projected timeline for your film, describing your point in the creative/producing process at time of your application. Provide an estimated potential time for completion of principal photography and picture lock.

Distribution and Marketing Strategy

Characterize the intended distribution life for your film, including relevant broadcast, festival, theatrical, or home video markets.

Audience and Community Engagement

Audience Engagement is a strategic campaign to encourage individuals and communities to move from passive to active participants on the issue your film broaches. Engagement campaigns are distinct from distribution (which puts films on screens), and from marketing and outreach (alerting viewers to see films). Rather, engagement is designed to activate audiences and stakeholders toward a specific goal.

Not all films are suited for social engagement, but if yours is, what action would you hope viewers will take after the screening? If you have any partnerships with organizations already in place, how are these relationships/partnerships informing your approach.

Interactive Elements

Some films are intended for multiple platforms as an integral part of the user experience. Describe any story elements that are meant for other platforms (ex: games, installations, apps, augmented reality, etc). Explain how cross platform elements will enhance the experience and interaction between viewers and the world of the story.

Key Creative Personnel

Provide brief biographies (50-150 words) for the director(s), and if attached, the producer (s), cinematographer, or editor. Bullet list any other advisors or consultants, if applicable.

Fundraising Strategy

List secured funding sources as well as the funding sources you intend to pursue. Clearly distinguish between potential sources and secured amounts.

Example: Foundation A ……… $5,000 Secured

Foundation B ……….$ Applied

Comprehensive Line Item Expense Budget

List a breakdown of all expenses from development through release, including a grand budget total.

Have a look at the film proposal template for a structured guide.



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