William Greaves Research and Development Fund

The William Greaves Research and Development Fund resources talented, mid-career nonfiction storytellers from racially and ethnically underrepresented communities in the United States, as well as filmmakers from Mexico, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Colombia with a particular interest in those who identify as being Indigenous and/or of African descent.


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Note: The William Greaves Research & Development Fund application is open June 5 through July 15, 2024.




Firelight Media invites mid-career nonfiction filmmakers from racially and ethnically underrepresented communities in the United States and filmmakers in Mexico, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Colombia, with particular interest in those who identify as Indigenous and/or of African descent, to apply for the fifth year of the William Greaves Research & Development Fund.

This fund is dedicated to resourcing and supporting talented storytellers with grants ranging up to $40K each to support research and development on a feature-length nonfiction film and any essential need grantees have, including healthcare and childcare costs. This fund is Firelight Media’s first international initiative and was launched to provide opportunities for filmmakers to connect, learn, and build solidarity across borders.

The Greaves R&D Fund reflects Firelight Media’s commitment to ensuring underrepresented communities are actively cultivated, participating in, and influencing the nonfiction space and a broader discourse. Our criteria for selection (see below) reflects our commitment to creative rigor, imagination, and ethics and accountability to impacted communities in filmmaking practice.

The application is open from Wednesday, June 5, 2024 through Monday, July 15, 2024, with an anticipated announcement at the end of 2024.


Eligibility Guidlines:

  • Filmmakers must self-identify as being from a racially and ethnically underrepresented community in the United States or living and working in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Colombia, and/or Brazil
  • Must be a mid-career* Director**
  • Must be working on a feature length documentary film in the pre-production phase

*For the purposes of this fund, we define a "mid-career filmmaker" as someone with an established track record or substantial body of nonfiction cinema works, including but not limited to the completion of 2 feature-length documentaries to date and at least 7 years of experience. But given the variable backgrounds filmmakers often have, particularly when facing structural barriers in the industry, we will consider proposals that necessitate a different definition of “mid-career.” We expect a clear articulation of why your career trajectory positions you as mid-career if you do not fit this definition.

**Producers applying on behalf of a Director should apply in collaboration with the Director. Please note that the funds will go to the Director and not the Producer. Collectives that apply should note that the majority of their collective should identify as being from a racially and ethnically underrepresented community and should be majority mid-career as per the definition above.

Ineligibility Guidelines:

Filmmakers are not eligible to receive support through one or any of Firelight Media’s artist programs if:

  • The filmmaker is applying with a project that is a student film or related to ongoing coursework.
  • The filmmaker is re-applying to a program they previously received support from. 
  • The filmmaker is contracted with another Firelight Media artist program and has not completed the final deliverables by the time they are selected for this program.
  • The filmmaker is employed by Firelight Media or PBS as an officer, full-time employee, or is a member of the board of directors.
  • The filmmaker does not hold the majority of the intellectual property of the film.

Proposals will be accepted in the filmmakers’ language of choice and projects will be selected through a tiered process: the first round by a panel of peers, the second round through an internal review, and the final round through the review and deliberation of an advisory panel comprising filmmakers and industry leaders who work in the U.S. and/or countries from which we are accepting applications. All proposals will be reviewed in the language they are submitted in during the first two rounds.

The selection will be based on the strength of the story, the creative approach, the director(s) career trajectory, its social relevance, the viability of the plan proposed, and the ethics and accountability of the approach (e.g. filmmaker’s relationship to the subject matter; navigating differences in power; impact on film participants, vulnerable communities, audiences; community benefit considerations; decisions related to distribution, rights and ownership; who is on the team and hiring practices; etc.).

Deadline to apply: Monday, July 15, 11:59PM EST

View frequently asked questions here (PDF)

If you have any questions, please send an inquiry to: grants@firelightmedia.org.

June 5, 2024
July 15, 2024
Funding for this program is provided by
The words "Perspective Fund" in white under a white triangle symbol.
An image of several letter "Js" arranged to form the shape of a tree with the words "Jonathan Logan Family Foundation"
The words "Rockefeller Brothers Fund" in white under an infinity symbol.
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