Documentarian Emergency Relief Fund FAQ

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Please do not call or email From the Heart Productions.  Use email  for all correspondence.

Who eligible to apply?

Sponsored by From the Heart Productions, the Documentarian Emergency Relief Fund (DERF) seeks to help documentary producers or directors who are suffering “dire financial emergencies” due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  They must have created at least one 60-minute or longer documentary feature film that has been released and distributed. 

Distribution can include any of these: theatrical screenings, sale to online streamers, significant community screenings, and can also include TV broadcasts as well as TVOD, AAVOD, and SVOD. 

Applicants must also be currently involved in the field of documentary filmmaking.  They must show they are now engaged in the research, development, pre-production, production, or post-production of a documentary film.  

What are “dire financial emergencies”?

“Dire financial emergencies” are defined by this fund as the lack or imminent endangerment of essentials such as housing, medicine, childcare, and food. 

Who is not eligible to apply?

Students who are currently enrolled are not eligible.  Board members or employees of From the Heart Productions and their relatives are not eligible for the fund.  Funding is available to domestic (U.S.) filmmakers only.  Filmmakers need not be US citizens but they must be residents who can legally work in the US.   

How much is the grant worth?

The total amount available for the fund is $10,000.  Each month $1,000 will be made available to filmmakers.     

Why is only $1,000 each month available?

The funding is being made available to the DERF in monthly amounts of $1,000.

Can more than one filmmaker receive funds?

Yes.  Total given out each month will be a maximum of $1,000.  If two filmmakers both need $500, and are judged eligible and qualify to receive funding, they could each get $500.

Do I need to apply every month?

You can apply up to three times if not selected for funding.

What is the deadline for applying each month?

To be considered for funds, you must submit an application by the 14th of the month.  

What if my application is submitted after the 14th of the month?

If you submit your application after the 14th, it will be considered for the next month of funding.  

If I receive funds one time, am I able to receive them again?

No.  While you can apply up to 3 times, you can only be a recipient of the DERF once.

What documentation do I need to provide?

Per the application, you will be asked to submit proof of professional documentary activity such as your IMDB page, film review, or a direct link to a project that shows professional work in the field.  You will be asked for links to your website and social media.

You will also be asked to write in 100-400 words about the “dire financial emergency” you are experiencing and why you need these funds. 

How do I send the documentation required by the fund?

You will be able to enter it on the application and attach any other required documentation.

Can international filmmakers apply?

Not at this time.  Grant is restricted to domestic (U.S.) filmmakers only. Filmmakers need not be US citizens but they must be residents who can legally work in the US. 

What is the timeline for applications and selection?

Submissions for monthly funding are accepted at the beginning of each month.  Deadline for submissions is the 14th of each month.  Recipients of the funding will be chosen before the end of the month and checks mailed to them at that time.

Is there an application fee?

There is no application fee.

How do I receive the funding?

From the Heart Productions will mail you a check to the address you provide on your application.

Do I have to be a documentary filmmaker?

Yes, funding is available only to professional documentary filmmakers at this time. 

Where does the money come from?

Funding for the Documentarian Emergency Fund was donated by Carole Dorothy Joyce.  She is a board member of From the Heart Productions and Director of the Roy W. Dean Grants.  She is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker.

We are currently seeking additional donations to continue to make the fund more sustainable.

What is From the Heart Productions?

From the Heart Productions is a 501(c)3 non-profit founded in 1993 to help filmmakers get funding for their films.  We do this through our fiscal sponsorship program, Roy W. Dean Grant, and Intentional Filmmaking Classes.

Why are you doing this?

As part of our mission, we seek to help create films that are unique and make a contribution to society.  The work of many documentary filmmakers fits that description.  Also, documentaries often take the longest to make and sometimes have the most difficulty getting funded because of the topics they cover and the film industry’s perceived lack of commercial prospects for non-fiction projects .  The Covid-19 pandemic has greatly affected documentary filmmakers’ ability to make ends meet and we want to help them.

Is the subject matter of the films I make relevant?

No.  We are seeking to help those who have created and distributed documentaries. We are not judging them on the subject matter.

Should I send information about my current or past projects?

Information on your experience, which includes past projects will be part of the application.

What if I’ve made films in the past but I currently have no projects?

You need to be currently active in some form or at some stage at creating a project.

Who are the judges?

Recipients of the funds will be decided by DEF Funding Committee.  The committee is made of caring, compassionate people who care about filmmaking and documentary films.

Why do you need my Social Security Number or Tax ID Number?

As this is funding and not a grant, you may be required to pay tax on the funding based on amount received.  The IRS requires we send you a 1099 for this income.

Will these awards be taxed?

Yes, the IRS must be notified of this income and you will get a 1099.

What criteria are the judges making selections based on?

This is a non-competitive process. The funds are not being given out on a first-come first-served basis.  At the close of each application period, the DERF Funding Committee will make decisions based on the submitted needs of the filmmaker and if they fit the guidelines of the fund.

I’m not in dire financial need, but my film desperately needs funding. Can I still apply?

If not in dire financial need, this fund is not for you.  You may want to consider applying for a grant like our Roy W. Dean Grant.

Are there any budget limitations for the projects considered for the grant?

No because the fund is providing money for the filmmaker and not the project.

I have a couple of projects in the works. Can I apply for more than one project?

aboveSince we are looking at your financial need and not your projects, you would apply based on your need.

How long after the submission deadline will winners be announced?

Deadline for submissions is the 14th of each month.   Recipients will be announced before the end of the month in which application was submitted.

I won the Roy W. Dean Grant or another film grant. Can I still apply?

Yes, the funding is for filmmakers and not for a specific project.

Will the monthly amount increase or will the timeframe of the grant increase?

We are currently seeking additional donations for the fund. Please stay tuned for updates here and on From the Heart’s social media for additional funding.

What If I need help or have questions, who can I contact?

Please email .  We will get back to you within 24 to 48 hours. 

Do not call From the Heart Productions. The employees of From the Heart are not able to help.  Please use the email provided for all correspondence.


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