The BFI Doc Society Fund supports and nurtures independent non-fiction films and immersive projects by UK filmmakers: prioritising expansive, director-led storytelling. Our funding is intended to be transformative and representative of all UK society.
We back ambitious, independent feature documentary films and immersive projects intended for theatrical release, from both emerging talent and more established directors. The fund recognises the quality of difference in perspective, the importance of who is telling the story and strong collaborations. We invite local stories and encourage films that take creative leaps and bring fresh vision to the form.
In addition to supporting the BFI National Lottery fund objectives, we have introduced four guiding principles that underpin assessment on the fund (detailed fully in the fund guidelines), they are:
Working collaboratively across the fund and talent support is the best way to learn and to support the documentary field and move beyond centres of power toward a truly distributed knowledge base and field.
Representing all of UK society
From the ground up, the Fund must be representative of society.
Freedom of creative expression
Documentary creatives should be able to take smart creative risks on documentary storytelling, in ways that develop and expand the documentary form
Audience right to culture
Audiences have a right to be able to access film culture and independent documentary belongs in spaces of open dialogue.
The BFI Doc Society Fund provides support of up to a maximum of £150,000 per feature documentary film or immersive non-fiction project in the form of grants. Assessment of applications for this funding will focus strongly on the talent involved, their progression, their relationship to the story they are telling as well as the creative ambition of the feature documentary project itself.
We are focused on access and inclusivity to make sure that untold stories from across the English regions and Nations of the UK have the opportunity to be shared with as many audiences as possible. Through championing under-represented talent, we can help create a more diverse and inclusive film industry.
We intend to fund in stages and are unlikely to provide many awards of £150,000 as a lump sum, with single award amounts likely to fall in the £30K range for development and from £50,000 to £80,000 for production. We have limited funds and may therefore only be able to offer you a lower amount than the one you request.
The BFI Doc Society is committed to making its funding accessible to all. TAPE Community Film and Music will be providing individually tailored support for applicants with access needs. Find all the details on what support you can receive and how to get the help required to make an application in this Word document.
Who can apply?
Applications must be made by the project’s dedicated individual producer, through a limited company registered and centrally managed in the UK.
The fund can support:
- Documentaries intended for theatrical release
- Any stage of production - Early development, Development, Pre-production Production, Post-production
- First time feature filmmakers and more experienced filmmakers
- Hybrid forms
- Immersive non fiction work
The fund cannot support:
- Completed projects seeking an award for distribution, festival attendance or impact campaigns.
- Filmed productions such as a theatre show, sporting or music event
- Artist installations
- Documentaries intended primary for broadcast television or online platforms i.e factual, non-scripted
- Episodic works
The Doc Society BFI Feature Documentary Fund accepts applications on a rolling basis and is open year round.
Applications are made in two stages: you must first submit an Expression of Interest. If this confirms your project is eligible and of interest, we will ask you to complete a Full Application.
As the fund is open all year, applications are assessed as they are submitted. The sooner you apply, the sooner we can process your application.
Keep in touch:
We encourage all potential applicants to the BFI Doc Society to join our newsletter mailing list here to receive the latest funding news, talent support, events and opportunities across the documentary sector.
Find us on @TheDocSociety
As part of our delegate partnership with the BFI between 2018-2023, we funded 61 independent UK feature documentaries.