National Lottery funding for documentaries is provided by our partner, Doc Society.

We do not offer completion funding to prepare a project for festival submission, only once it has been accepted.

Funding is intended for projects that are unlikely to be fully commercially financed.

Begin the application process as soon as you hear a festival invite is forthcoming to give us time to process and assess your application.

Who can apply

Applications must be made by the lead producer who is a different person to the director and writer.

If you have a sales or distribution company attached to the film we would expect the completion of the film to be covered by them – an application for your project is therefore unlikely to be prioritised.

Our funding priorities

We prioritise work that:

  • is made by filmmakers in the early stages of their careers
  • has cultural relevance or progressive ideas
  • takes risks in form and content
  • recognises the quality of differences in perspective, talent and recruitment
  • originated by filmmakers outside London and South East England

What you need to provide

For your initial application you should submit:

  • evidence of your project’s invitation to a festival (see qualifying festivals below)
  • a finance plan for 100% of the budgeted cost of the production
  • copies of all existing production funding agreements (including any interparty agreements), confirmation of how much has been funded and spent to date, and the agreed financier recoupment schedule and/or collection agreement for the project
  • the underlying chain of title 
  • evidence of insurance (including errors and omissions insurance, if available) for the production

Qualifying international film festivals

Annecy International Animated Film Festival
Berlin International Film Festival
Busan International Film Festival
Cannes Film Festival
Edinburgh International Film Festival
Fantastic Fest
Hong Kong International Film Festival
Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
Locarno International Film Festival
BFI London Film Festival
International Rome Film Festival
International Film Festival Rotterdam
San Sebastián International Film Festival
Sitges Film Festival
Sundance Film Festival
SXSW Film Festival
Telluride Film Festival
Tokyo International Film Festival
Toronto International Film Festival
Venice International Film Festival

Apply for funding

If this is your first application, please create an account.

Read the BFI Completion Fund guidelines before making an application.

If you wish to see the online application format before applying, please download the application preview.

If you wish to listen to the audio guidelines for this fund, please use the link below.

Applications are accepted all year round.

We aim to let applicants know the outcome of their application within 8 weeks.

If you have any questions relating to the fund or application, please email

We can provide assistance to applicants who have a disability, are D/deaf, have a visual or hearing impairment or are neurodiverse, where this support is needed for someone to make an application. See Access support for BFI Film Fund applicants.

Our resources: application outcomes and feedback

The extremely competitive nature of our funding means that we have to make very difficult decisions and often have to turn down projects even when they meet some or all of our stated criteria. On average, we have to turn down over 7 in every 10 projects seeking Development funding, and 8 in every 10 projects seeking Production funding.

We aim to make the application process as fair and transparent as possible. As a result of the volume of applications we receive, we do not have the resources to provide feedback on projects that have been declined.