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 of Indigenous and/or of African descent.


The application for the William Greaves Research & Development Fund is now closed.



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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 third 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. This fund is Firelight’ Medias first international initiative and was launched to provide opportunities for filmmakers to connect, learn, and build solidarity across borders.

To address the devastating toll that the pandemic has had on the independent film community, and how unstable work in the industry can be for filmmakers of color, the William Greaves Research & Development Fund will continue to include a basic care stipend that can be put toward any essential need grantees have, from healthcare and childcare costs to any other necessary resources.

This change 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, ethics and accountability to impacted communities in filmmaking practice.

The application opened July 5, 2022 and closed August 8, 2022, with an anticipated announcement in late November.

Selection Criteria:

  • We will consider projects that address a range of themes and issues.
  • We will consider projects with diverse aesthetic approaches (verité, essay, experimental, investigative, personal, historical, etc.).
  • We will consider projects that are ambitious or narrowly focused.
  • We will consider submissions from filmmakers based in the U.S., Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia, and Brazil.

We will consider submissions from filmmakers of all refugee and immigration statuses, recognizing that migration flows are necessitated by the global challenges and forces we seek to overcome. 

We take notice when projects are socially relevant, formally innovative, address or engage underrepresented issues or communities, and are accountable to the impacted communities they represent.

  • 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 for a feature length documentary film in the pre-production phase

*For the purposes of this fund, we define 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 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.


Proposals will be accepted in the filmmakers’ language of choice (English, Spanish, or Portuguese) 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.

The selection will be based on the strength of the story, the creative approach, its social relevance, the viability of the plan proposed, and the ethics and accountability of the approach (e.g. the 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.).

View frequently asked questions here

If you have any questions and/or would like to schedule an informational call with someone on the team, please send an inquiry to: grants@firelightmedia.org.



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