LEF Announces $50,000 in Early Development and Pre-Production Funding to New England-based Documentary Filmmakers

The LEF Foundation has awarded 12 Moving Image Fund grants totaling $50,000 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 four grants of $2,500 to projects at the Early Development stage, and eight grants of $5,000 to projects at the Pre-production stage.

At LEF’s June 2020 deadline for Early Development and Pre-production, 40 applications were received from filmmakers working across New England. Three peer readers, all of whom are local filmmakers representing a diverse range of perspectives on documentary, were each invited to independently review and share comments on 30 eligible Pre-production grant applications, and these peer evaluations informed LEF’s final decision to award eight Pre-production grants in this round.

LEF Executive Director Lyda Kuth shared: “From its inception, we have convened an outside panel for our Production and Post Production grant review. The panels are comprised of different people each year, which means varying points of view and fresh perspectives are brought to the review of projects. In addition, the review introduces the work of New England filmmakers to the broader independent community. Similarly, we wanted to bring a range of perspectives to the Pre-production grant review and invited readers into the process. We invited filmmakers from the New England community to review and provide comments on projects, understanding the value this can bring. It could also be a learning opportunity for the readers, in seeing how other filmmakers were presenting their films at an early stage.”

LEF staff also reviewed the 10 eligible Early Development grant applications at this newly added grant stage and four projects were selected, offering initial seed funding to filmmakers who have not yet had a chance to shoot or edit any sample footage for their current projects.

LEF Program Officer Genevieve Carmel shared, “This was the first year that LEF offered a new Early Development grant for four New England-based documentary filmmakers at the earliest stages of their process. We couldn’t be more excited to explore an expansion of LEF’s Moving Image Fund in this way, and this will be a learning process for us, informing how we approach future funding programs. By removing the current visual sample requirement at the Early Development stage, our goal was to learn more about and support projects in development by filmmakers who have not been able to

create a visual sample for their current work, whether due to COVID-19 or where some initial seed funding might address the unique requirements of a project.”

All applicants who applied for LEF funding at this stage will have an opportunity to hear review notes by phone, to learn more about how their proposals were evaluated, and to ask any questions. Carmel added, “Being transparent about our decision-making process is important to us, and we hope that sharing notes from the review can be a source of information and encouragement for applicants as they continue working on their projects. We also understand that sharing where there may have been enthusiasm or any remaining questions about each applicant’s project keeps the communication lines open between LEF as a funder and the filmmakers who apply.”

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 2021 application deadline. In total, LEF will be distributing $240,000 in funding to documentary productions over the course of its 2021 fiscal year.

Read the full announcement.

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