Well, you've decided to make films for a living, or perhaps as your primary hobby. This, of course, means you've come to the conclusion that Ferraris, Mansions, and healthy pension plans are not important to you. The truth of the matter is that filmmakers, particularly documentary filmmakers, barely break even on their projects. Money is not the reason they make films.
The frightening irony of this field is that not only can you not plan to make any money, you can't even get started without money. This brings us to the focus of this site. Here, you'll learn about some organizations that are geared to fund documentary filmmakers or provide outlets for completed films. Of course, they can't fund everybody. Each organization has its own set of hoops to jump through, which by themselves can determine just how serious you are about filmmaking.
These organizations are primarily interested in documentary films that are geared for air on PBS, the Public Broadcasting Service. As far as genre is concerned, if you're looking to make a historical documentary or something with a public affairs edge, you're in good shape to look toward these guys. If your focus is more of an entertainment documentary or a film intended for theatrical release, you're not totally out of luck-- these organizations have been known to fund such films. Its just not likely. For films like these, your best bet is the private sector-- individual companies, foundations, and people interested in funding your film in return for a producer title in the credits.
The organizations we're looking at here are the Independent Television Service and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In these pages, you'll find the types of films they're most interested in, links to their sites, and an overview of their application process. We'll begin with a look at PBS itself, to see what their mission is and how they carry it out. If you're looking to reach an intelligent audience, PBS is a good place to start.
Onward to PBS...