Documentary funding

The Film Fund is committed to supporting documentary filmmaking, and specifically documentary films with theatrical potential.

In recognition of the greater volume of applicants with theatrical documentary proposals, the current industry interest in the form, and the more specialised consideration that this genre requires, particularly for emerging talent, we consider applications from documentary filmmakers through pitching sessions held three times each year, in London and Sheffield. The panel consists of BFI Film Fund executives, industry experts and peers. All documentary applications for development and production will be considered through this process.

In conjunction with the Sheffield Doc/Fest, we will invite a short list of applicants to a pitching session and give them the opportunity to present their projects to the panel. Pitching sessions will be held in Sheffield in June, and in London in October and February. Funding awards are made three times a year, following each pitching session.


Please ensure you have read the full funding guidelines before you complete the application form.

Applying to the Film Fund

Before you proceed to the application form below, please note that applicants who wish to apply to the Film Fund are first asked to create an account. This is requested for the applicants’ convenience, in order to allow the application to be saved before it is submitted.

Following submission of the application to the BFI, applicants will be sent a unique application ID for their records.

To make a new application to the Film Fund if you already have an account login, or to create an account login if you are a new applicant, please proceed to the application form below:

Make a Film Fund application

The applicant will be able to access all previously submitted applications, including in-progress applications, at any point by logging into their account:

Account login

Documentary application assessment process

An initial assessment of the application will be made by personnel from the BFI Film Fund and the Sheffield Doc/Fest. Projects will be assessed on their creative vision and the perceived ability of the team to deliver that vision. Criteria will include strength of story and characters and the theatrical resonance of the project – i.e. why does it have to be a big screen project?

Unsuccessful applicants will be notified but as a result of the volume of applications we receive, we do not have the resources to provide feedback on projects we are not taking forward.

A shortlist of up to eight projects will be invited to present their projects at a private pitching session.

Prior to the pitching forum, the shortlisted filmmaking teams will be invited to attend a pitching workshop. This workshop is not mandatory, but is advised.

The pitch workshop will be a one-day (eight-hour) event taking place at the BFI offices in London approximately two weeks before the formal pitching sessions. The workshop will be led by Christina Burnett, pitch trainer. At this workshop, the selected teams will be guided as to how to best deliver their pitch in Sheffield or London – how to clearly communicate their story and characters, how to structure their presentations for most impact on the panel, and what audience they expect to interest with their documentary. They will also be supported in developing the best teaser clips to screen at the pitching session. The day will consist of delivering each pitch a number of times, with critique from the trainer and the rest of the group in order to make the presentation iteratively better each time. After the workshop each team will have a short time to recut their teaser clips based on feedback received and practice their presentations in order to ensure that their final pitch to the panel is confident and persuasive.

Key dates:

London pitch

Deadline for applications 25 November 2016 (closed)
Workshop for shortlisted projects February 2017
Pitch session for shortlisted projects End of February 2017

Sheffield pitch

Deadline for applications Midnight Friday 14 April 2017
Workshop for shortlisted projects End of May 2017
Pitch session for shortlisted projects Sheffield Doc/Fest in June


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