BFI Doc Society Team and Process

Meet the team working on the BFI Doc Society Fund and their roles here

  •  
  • Hannah Bush Bailey
    Film and Production Executive

  • Kit Colbourne
    BFI Doc Society Production Coordinator

  • Luke Moody
    Head of the BFI Doc Society Fund

  • Sandra Whipham
    Foundation Director

  • Shanida Scotland
    Director, Head of Film

  • Suzanne Alizart
    Head of Business Affairs

BFI Doc Society Fund Decision Making Process.

Doc Society is committed to transparency and accountability and recognises that filmmakers need to know who is making funding decisions and how they are arrived at. Summarised below is information on who will read your application, on what criteria applications are assessed and what the timeline is once you’ve submitted your application.

Made of Truth: BFI Doc Society Short Film Fund.

The fund is an annual open call so all applications are reviewed and considered in parallel once the application window is closed.

Applications to Made of Truth will first be assessed by the fund team for eligibility based on the criteria set out in Section 5 of the full guidelines. This includes checks that the applicant is over 18, not in full time education, based in the UK and other criteria that is conditional to progressing to the next stage of assessment.

There are five key stages to the review process prior to a shortlist of applicants being invited to interview.

1. Applications are firstly assessed by two external readers. The external readers will create a longlist of projects (30-40) that will be progressed to the next stage of review.

2. The longlisted projects will be read by two internal readers - the Head of BFI Doc Society Fund and The Film and Production Executive. Together they will agree on a shortlist of projects to move forward to peer review.

3. At minimum 3 external peer reviewers will read all shortlisted applications offering further perspectives and notes on the shortlisted projects to be considered prior to finalising the projects invited to interview.

4. The interviews will be conducted by the Head of BFI Doc Society Fund and The Film and Production Executive and are intended to address comments and questions gathered at all stages of the review process.

5. Decisions on grantees are then considered after the interview and the projects selected will be presented to the BFI Film Team including Head of BFI Film Network and Senior Manager - Operations, Partners & Projects. Final grantee decisions will be made in this committee meeting.

Feedback - Made of Truth: BFI Doc Society Short Film Fund

We are only able to support a small percentage of the applications received and unfortunately have to say no far more often than we are able to say yes. Where applications are not successful, we are not able to provide you with feedback. However, if you’ve had a project meeting, or detailed call with a member of the BFI Doc Society team as part of the application process, or if they requested additional creative material, you can ask to receive some feedback. Additionally all projects that reach the interview stage will be offered in person feedback.

In person feedback will be given during a 15 minute telephone conversation.

BFI Doc Society RAD Fund

Stage 1: Application

Once submitted, your application is reviewed internally by at least two of the fund team at Doc Society.

Assessment of your application is made against core criteria and priorities, including the potential strength of the story, contributors and cultural and social resonance and ambitions of the film.

We are primarily interested in stories that push the boundaries of non-fiction filmmaking, with an emphasis on distinctiveness of voice and perspective. We are also keen to support projects that demonstrate they will make a positive difference to the creative development of the director/producer involved.

Assessment also takes into account: the balance and plurality of other films that the Fund has already supported, given our commitment to regional support and diversity and if applicable, how any previous BFI Doc Society Fund funding has been managed.

Full details of the assessment criteria and core principles can be found in section 6 of the guidelines, “What happens after you apply”.

Full applications will be reviewed by the Head of the BFI Doc Society Fund (or, in their absence, a delegated Doc Society Executive Director) alongside at least one further internal reader to provide an additional perspective.

Stage 2: Interview

Applicants shortlisted for funding support during Stage 1 will be invited to an interview. As a rolling fund these interviews will take place at minimum two times per year. Not all applicants invited to interview will be supported.

Stage 3: Committee

Interviews are followed by more internal discussion, and a final list is then presented to the BFI committee for approval. Proposed decisions are agreed by the BFI Film Fund Team including the Director of Filmmaking Fund, and Senior Manager - Operations, Partners & Projects either by email or at a Fund Committee meeting.

Feedback

Though we acknowledge just how helpful feedback can be for filmmakers, we are not able to provide detailed feedback on every application that is submitted to the fund due to the volume of submissions and capacity of the team to do this in a fair and equal way for all. We offer decision reasoning against the criteria at the first application stage. We have also expanded on the criteria for circumstances where we can provide further feedback as follows:

applicants invited to interview but whose projects are not progressed further;

applicants progressed to committee but whose projects are not progressed further;

applicants with projects that have been unsuccessful on more than one occasion;

applicants who the team has met during festivals or forums; and past grantees.

In person feedback will be given during a 15 minute telephone conversation.

The fund team will advise applicants of an outcome within 12 weeks of the date of their application submission.

BFI Doc Society Features Fund.

Stage 1: Expression of Interest

Once submitted, your Expression of Interest (EOI) application is reviewed internally by at least two of the fund team at Doc Society. EOI’s will be assessed for their eligibility based on the criteria set out in section 3 of the fund guidelines as well as whether the application is a strong, stand out proposition that demonstrates a thoughtful reflection of the project.

EOI’s must qualify for the next stage on technical terms, and editorial. The EOI will form part of the full application if progressed therefore must demonstrate the narrative and cinematic potential of the project. If your EOI is successful, you will receive an invitation to submit a full application, which you will have 4 weeks to submit

If your EOI is not successful, you will receive notification with an indication of why the team was unable to progress the project to the next stage.

The fund team will advise applicants within 8 weeks of the date of their EOI submission.

Stage 2: Full Application

Assessment of your full application is made against core criteria and priorities (see assessment criteria in the guidelines and four core principles on the website), the strength of the story, contributors and cultural and social resonance and ambitions of the film. We look for feasibility of the proposed budget and financing plans, strength of creative team to deliver the vision set out, how your story will connect with audiences, how diversity standards have been considered and the need for support.

We are primarily interested in stories that push the boundaries of non-fiction filmmaking, with an emphasis on distinctiveness of voice and perspective. Assessment also takes into account: the balance and plurality of other films that the Fund has already supported, given our commitment to regional support and diversity and if applicable, how any previous BFI Doc Society Fund funding has been managed.

Full applications will be reviewed by the Head of the BFI Doc Society Fund (or, in their absence, a delegated Doc Society Executive Director) alongside an independent external reader to provide an additional perspective.

Projects are then either further progressed to the external peer review stage or not. Those that are not further progressed will receive written feedback supporting the decision. In some circumstances we may also request additional practical information at this stage prior to determine whether a project is suitable to progress to peer review.

Stage 3: Peer Review

Three carefully selected expert peer reviewers (both UK and international representatives who bring editorial, production, sales/distribution expertise from the field) will also provide moderation and additional assessment of full applications. You can see who we have worked with on peer review in our BFI Doc Society 2018-2023 Review.

These external perspectives are then considered by the BFI Doc Society Team before determining which projects progress to interview stage. Together with the review comments of the internal and external readers, these insights inform the basis of the interview questions.

Stage 4: Interview

Proposals that progress from the peer review process are invited to an interview lasting up to 45 minutes. The interview team will include at least two members of the BFI Doc Society team including the Head of the BFI Doc Society Fund and either a Doc Society Executive Director or Film and Production Executive. The interview is intended to be a space of dialogue, to address some questions raised by the written application and to allow the applicant to elaborate further on certain aspects of the project that may not be fully reflected on paper.

An interview invitation does not mean that we have made a commitment to fund the project.

Once interviews are conducted the Head of the BFI Doc Society Fund, a Doc Society Executive Director and the Film and Production Executive will determine which proposals qualify for the final committee meeting. In this period of review the detail of their budget and schedule will also be under further analysis to determine whether the requested award amount aligns with project needs, urgency of schedules, and availability of resources.

Stage 5: Committee

Interviews are followed by more internal discussion, and a further shortlist of applications that are taken to committee. Proposed decisions are discussed and agreed by the BFI Film Fund Team including the Director of Filmmaking Fund, and Senior Manager - Operations, Partners & Projects at a Fund Committee meeting.

External Readers and Peer Reviewers

All applications are read by an external reader who brings a difference of perspective beyond the fund team. Readers are selected on the basis of their editorial eye and experience of nonfiction storytelling. Our current readers have experience across film production, distribution, sales, executive production, festivals and criticism.

Immersive project proposals will be read by at least one reviewer with Immersive and XR Industry experience at the EOI and Full Application stage, and their peer review process will include at least one reviewer with Immersive and XR Industry experience.

We look to rotate peer reviewers and bring new voices and experiences into the assessment process. We will be welcoming applications to participate in peer review on an annual basis from those with advantageous experience in the documentary field. This may include a strong knowledge of production and filmmaking processes, a track record of editorial and those with experience in independent film sales, distribution and current market knowledge.

The fund team will advise applicants within 12 weeks of the date of their submission of a full application.

Feedback

Though we acknowledge just how helpful feedback can be for filmmakers, we are not able to provide feedback on every application that is submitted to the fund due to the volume of submissions and capacity of the team to do this in a fair and equal way for all. We offer decision reasoning against the criteria at EOI and full application stages. We have also expanded on the criteria for circumstances where we can provide feedback as follows:

- applicants invited to interview but whose projects are not progressed further;

- applicants progressed to committee but whose projects are not progressed further;

- applicants with projects that have been unsuccessful on more than one occasion;

- applicants who the team has met during festivals or forums; and past grantees.

In person feedback will be given during a 15 minute telephone conversation.

You can read more about the decision making process and core priorities in the fund guidelines.

If you have any questions about the decision making process you can ask us on: hello@docsociety.org