Saturday, March 5, 2016

Documentary Filmmakers Lose the MacArthur Documentary Fund

The MacArthur Foundation has ended its documentary fund. The grant, which topped $200,000, was one of the largest for documentary filmmakers. The Foundation stated that by ending the grant, it hopes to support documentary filmmaking through its partners. Its open letter states:
For many years, we have witnessed the powerful ways in which organizations like Sundance Institute and Firelight Media provide comprehensive support to filmmakers and new media artists, deploying MacArthur's financial resources with razor sharp intentionality, while serving many more filmmakers and artists than we possibly could directly. As a result, we have decided to reinforce and expand the Foundation's support of documentary filmmakers and nonfiction media producers through partner organizations. In fact, we have been steadily increasing grant levels to Sundance Institute, Firelight Media, POV, Kartemquin and others, and we plan to establish new relationships with additional partners that fund nonfiction film and new media projects, provide training and mentorship, and assist with distribution, engagement and impact. By 2017, MacArthur's total investment in the documentary community is expected to be larger than ever.
I feel that this is part of the democratization of filmmaking. As technology becomes cheaper and films are produced for almost nothing, the foundations and organizations that fund independent filmmaking see less use for funds. It is a blessing and a curse, as filmmakers are forced to do more with less. Unfortunately, this may mean less films produced, as well as a less diversity among films, as those films who can afford finishing funds will be from a small demographic.

Happy Filmmaking.

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