How to Apply

The Moving Image Fund has two separate online application cycles each year:
  • A single-step application process beginning in June for projects in the Early Development and Pre-production stages.
  • A two-step application process beginning in January for projects in the Production and Post-production stages.
All online submission forms ask for a written proposal adapted from the Documentary Core Application, in addition to project budget information and a film/video work sample. Find more details about the application process, requirements, and timeline for each stage below.

Before You Apply

Please be sure to read our guidelines and frequently asked questions before you apply.
We also encourage all prospective applicants to take the opportunity to contact LEF New England staff early on by phone (617-492-5333), e-mail, or messenger to ask any questions about the application process, and to determine whether your project is eligible and a good fit for LEF's funding priorities. We are a small team and do our best to respond to all inquiries quickly, but if you are reaching out during the final two weeks before a grant deadline, e-mail is preferred.

Online Submission Form

LEF accepts Moving Image Fund LOIs and applications through an online submission form hosted by Submittable. Click here to go to the online submission form.

Documentary Core Application Checklist

Because the LEF Moving Image Fund has adapted its application from the Documentary Core Application, you can get a head start on your application by visiting the Core Application proposal checklist on the IDA's website, which will give you a preview of the questions that will appear on the LEF Moving Image Fund online submission form.


The LOI forms for Production and Post-production require only an estimated summary project budget, and do not require a full line-item budget.
At the full application stage for Early Development, Pre-production, Production, and Post-production, LEF requires a full line-item budget. You may use your own budget form and/or the LEF Budget Template, which you can download here.
If you have never crafted a documentary budget before, you can find an introduction and a more detailed budgeting template available from the International Documentary Association here.
If you have questions about preparing your budget for a LEF grant application, please feel free to contact us.

Work Samples

The work sample or samples that accompany your written proposal are an extremely important part of your application. They are an opportunity to show what is unique about your artistic approach, your story/characters, and your access to the people, places, and materials in your film. In most cases, LEF requires a current work sample from the project you are proposing for funding, except at the Early Development stage, in which two past work samples are required.
At Pre-production, Production, and Post-production, the required current work sample can include a selection of research footage, character sketches, and/or rough scenes from the project for which you are applying for funding. You may also supplement this current work sample with a sample from a completed past work for review, if relevant to the style or execution of the current project. You will have an opportunity to contextualize your work sample with an accompanying work sample description.
Trailers can occasionally be helpful material to include in a work sample for LEF, but only when accompanied by additional sample footage/scenes. In general, we encourage applicants to choose sample footage from your project that offers an in-depth window into a part of your film: a scene, a character, a particular artistic approach you are experimenting with, or another aspect of your project that you feel shows the originality of your vision or point of view as a filmmaker. Crowdfunding-style pitch videos are not appropriate as LEF work samples.
Work samples should be submitted in your application form as Vimeo links that will remain available to view online by peer reviewers through the duration of your application review timeline.
Please read specific work sample requirements for the stage at which you’re applying. If you have questions about preparing your work sample(s) for a LEF application, please feel free to contact us.

Fiscal Sponsorship

LEF no longer requires you to have a confirmed fiscal sponsor at the time that you submit a letter of inquiry or application. However, the online submission form does provide the option for you to share who your confirmed or potential fiscal sponsor will be. If you are awarded a grant, you must have a confirmed 501c3 fiscal sponsor in place in order to receive any grant funding. Find more details about locating a fiscal sponsor on our FAQ page, and reach out to us if you have other questions.

Early Development / Pre-production Application Process

Annual Application Deadline: At the Early Development and Pre-production stages, full applications are accepted through an online submission form (see above) for a June deadline each year.
Requirements: At both of these grant stages, the application forms require a written proposal and a full line-item budget (see above). The Early Development application requires links to view two past film/video work samples. The Pre-production application requires a link to view a current work sample of up to 10 minutes from the project you are proposing for funding.
Review Process and Notification Timeline: These applications are reviewed by three New England-based peer readers, whose recommendations inform final grant decisions by LEF staff. Filmmakers are notified by e-mail of funding decisions in July.

Production / Post-production Application Process

Annual LOI Deadline: At the Production and Post-production stages, letters of inquiry (LOIs) are accepted through an online form (see above) for a January deadline each year. Please note that Post-production LOIs are only accepted for projects that have received prior LEF funding.
LOI Requirements: At both of these grant stages, the LOI forms require a written proposal, a summary budget, and a link to view a current work sample of up to 10 minutes from the project you are proposing for funding.
LOI Review Process and Notification Timeline: LOIs are reviewed by New England-based peer readers whose recommendations inform which projects are invited to the full application stage. Filmmakers are notified by e-mail of LOI decisions in March. At that time, the projects that most align with LEF’s funding criteria are invited to submit a full application.
Full Application Requirements: If invited to submit a full application in March, applicants will be required to re-submit all of the elements included at the LOI stage with any updates, including responses to some additional questions, and a full line-item budget. Projects invited to submit full applications at the Post-production stage will also be able to submit a longer current work sample of up to 20 minutes from the proposed project.
Full Application Review Process and Notification Timeline: LEF invites an external panel of three peer reviewers, who include those from the New England filmmaking community and the wider film and documentary field, to evaluate and make decisions on LEF's Production and Post-production applications. Filmmakers are notified by e-mail of funding decisions in May.

Peer Reviewers

We believe that incorporating peer reviewers at various stages of the Moving Image Fund is a valuable step toward creating a more inclusive and dynamic grant decision-making process. We also see it as a step toward investing in LEF’s overarching goal of building a sustainable and strong community of support for artists and their work.
Peer reviewers remain anonymous, change at every round, and are compensated with an honorarium for their time. Nominations of new peer reviewers are accepted on a rolling basis from past LEF grantees and recent peer reviewers.
We acknowledge the impact of inequitable systems of power within documentary film-making and grant-making. Because of this, we strongly encourage nominations of those who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), ALAANA (African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, Native American), LGBTQIA+, women and non-binary people, immigrants, people with disabilities, and low-income/working class artists. LEF staff will prioritize and invite peer reviewers at each grant round who together represent a wide diversity of identities, locations, and approaches to non-fiction film. We are looking for peer reviewers who represent a broad range of personal and artistic points of view.

Review Notes

Following any grant cycle, all applicants can request a phone call to hear peer review notes on their application. While these notes are only representative of the evaluations shared by a subjective group of peer reviewers who change from one round to the next, the LEF team shares peer review notes with any applicants who request them in order to support their continuing creative process and any future grant applications. Prior applicants have shared that receiving notes from the review has been a crucial form of in-kind creative support for their works-in-progress, and so we remain committed to sharing peer review notes to inform and encourage all filmmakers who apply.