The WIFV Board of Directors is pleased to offer a Seed Fund for Documentary Filmmakers to support the work of its members.  WIFV believes this initiative to be a tremendous member benefit and that this program furthers our mission to provide resources for women in the film, television and media industry.  Grants may be used in the research and development phase of any documentary project and must be spent within 12 months of notice of the award.  The grant will be distributed in two parts – 50% upon notice of award; 50% after receipt of progress report (that can be submitted at any time after 30 days of the initial grant) and within 12 months of the original award.

The first Seed Fund grants were made in 2016.  Recipients of the Seed Fund for Documentary Filmmakers include Susanne Coates, Emily Cohen, Betsy Cox, Stephanie Flores-Koulish, Kristin Reiber Harris, Katie Lannigan, Kimberly McFarland, Krystal Tingle, and Emily Wathen.

Few Seed Funds exist for documentary filmmakers.  WIFV understands the importance of first-in support and is grateful for the many contributions it has received from its members to support this program.  In addition to a grant of $2,500, WIFV will offer a mentoring component with accomplished WIFV members, provide access to the Executive Director and her knowledge of resources, and bring the power of our programming events and workshops to address key education needs.

Any mediamaker that receives a Seed Fund Grant will be eligible to have their project accepted into the WIFV Fiscal Sponsorship Program to assist with bringing their project to completion and distribution with no additional application materials after payment of the $50 fiscal sponsorship program application fee.  More info on the WIFV Fiscal Sponsorship Program is here.

If you don’t find the information you are looking for here or on the FAQ or Application links, please give call Melissa Houghton at the WIFV office (202) 429-9438, and we will do our best to get you the information you need.

Program eligibility requirements

Applications will be accepted from current WIFV members only.  WIFV membership is open to anyone making screen-based media.  Information on membership is available here.  The proposed project must be a documentary project.  Narrative projects will not be eligible for funding.  Documentary projects that include re-creations or re-enactments are eligible for funding.

If a member is selected to receive a Seed Fund Grant, they must remain a WIFV member in good standing for the duration of the project.  Three letters of recommendation are required.

NOTE: current sitting WIFV Board members may not apply for a Seed Fund Grant.

The application and selection schedule

There will be one call for Seed Fund Grant applications per calendar year.  The 2020 application deadline is April 20, 2020.  The application form is here.  The application checklist is hereFAQs are here.  A Budget Template is provided.

Upon the application deadline, applications are reviewed by the WIFV Executive Director for completeness and eligibility.  Following review of your application for completeness, it will be forwarded to the WIFV Seed Fund Grant Selection Committee.  The Selection Committee will meet within 60 days of the application deadline and notification of the results will be forwarded to you within one week of that meeting.  If you have been selected for a Seed Fund Grant, your first payment will be part of the notification.

Please do not contact any WIFV staff or Board Member with an inquiry about your application status during the selection process.  You will be notified as soon as the selection committee results are known.

The selection of Seed Fund Grant recipients

A WIFV Seed Fund Selection Committee is responsible for evaluating applications and selecting the projects for which WIFV will provide a Seed Fund Grant.  This selection committee will be composed of WIFV members.  The Executive Director is a part of the committee as well as at least two sitting WIFV Board Members.  Selection Committee members may include non-WIFV professionals from national media associations or film-related companies.  The identity of the selection committee members will not be revealed until selection decisions are distributed and only upon request by Seed Fund Grant recipients.

Costs and Fees

There is no application fee for the WIFV Seed Fund for Documentary Filmmakers.

If your application is accepted and it is determined that WIFV fiscal sponsorship makes sense for your project, you will need to pay a $50 fiscal sponsorship application fee, but you will not need to resubmit an application.  For fiscal sponsored projects, WIFV will charge a 7% administrative handling fee for all grants and charitable donations.  This fee is competitive with other fiscal sponsorship programs.

Fiscal Sponsorship agreement/contract with filmmaker

If your project qualifies for fiscal sponsorship, the fiscal sponsorship agreement forms a binding contract and defines the relationship between WIFV and the filmmaker.  Reporting requirements are set forth in that contract.  Statements that assert the filmmakers acknowledgement of avoiding copyright infringement and that indemnify WIFV against copyright infringement, producer’s actions in the field and any legal actions that might arise, are also part of this agreement.

This agreement also specifies actions WIFV can take if a project no longer complies with the definition of charitable or non-commercial purposes.  In those circumstances, WIFV may be required to return funds to the donor(s).

Copyright and Content Issues

Content of the project is the sole responsibility of the filmmaker.  WIFV is not responsible for the application of “fair use” in materials used in the project.  The filmmaker maintains full ownership of copyright in the project.  WIFV will have no editorial input into the project, and WIFV materials, applications and promotional matter should include a disclaimer, as specified in the Agreement.

If you feel you need more information than what you learned here or on the FAQ or Application links, please call Melissa Houghton at the WIFV office (202) 429-9438, and we will do our best to get you the information you need.

Seed Fund Contributors


Start-up funding for documentary projects is tough to raise, and many worthy projects never get off the ground.  WIFV’s Seed Fund for Documentary Filmmakers has raised more than $15,000.  Your tax-deductible contribution is a seed that will help a film grow.  Support the WIFV Seed Fund for Documentary Filmmakers with a gift of $35, $50, $100, or more!  You can make your donation here.




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