LEF Announces $47,500 in Early Development and Pre-Production Funding to New England-based Documentary Filmmakers

The LEF Foundation has awarded 12 Moving Image Fund grants totaling $47,500 in support of feature-length documentary works by New England-based filmmakers.

The LEF Moving Image Fund invests in films that demonstrate excellence in technique, strong storytelling ability, and originality of artistic vision and voice. The most recent round of awards to New England-based documentary filmmakers includes five grants of $2,500 to projects at the Early Development stage, and seven grants of $5,000 to projects at the Pre-production stage.

At LEF’s June 2021 deadline for Early Development and Pre-production, 33 applications were received from filmmakers working across New England. Three peer readers, all of whom are local filmmakers representing a diversity of perspectives on documentary, were each invited to review, discuss, and make recommendations on the applications, and these peer evaluations informed LEF staff’s final grant decisions.

LEF Executive Director Lyda Kuth shared: “Over the past year, LEF has expanded our peer review process beyond our long-standing commitment to an external review panel, now inviting a group of peer readers from across New England to make recommendations at two earlier stages of the application process. We are grateful to our peer reviewers for their thoughtful review and their insights into each of the projects, which provide a tremendous learning opportunity for LEF and for the filmmakers who applied. Based on reader feedback we received last year, we invited this round of three peer readers to participate in a conversation about the applications and share their responses to the work, before they submitted their final individual recommendations.”

While LEF has historically offered grants at the Pre-production stage, this was only the second year of offering grants at the Early Development stage, giving initial seed funding to filmmakers who have not yet had a chance to shoot or edit any sample footage for their current projects.

All applicants who applied for LEF funding for both Pre-production and Early Development will have an opportunity to receive review notes from staff to learn how their proposals were evaluated by the peer reviewers, and to ask any questions.

LEF Program Director Gen Carmel wrote, “Sharing peer review notes via individual phone calls with each of the applicants is something we’re committed to doing as a funder, so that every applicant feels the time put into applying for a LEF Moving Image Fund grant will lead to valuable insights into how their work-in-progress is being responded to, and where there may have been questions from a group of their peers. These shared phone calls are also an opportunity for us to hear from applicants on ways to improve the application process moving forward.”

In addition to this group of grantees, LEF will also award $190,000 to 10 projects in Production and Post-Production later in the fiscal year, following the next January 2022 application deadline. In total, LEF will be distributing $237,500 in funding to documentary productions over the course of its 2022 fiscal year.

See the full announcement.

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