Stanley Nelson (courtesy of Firelight Media)

Firelight Media, a social justice-focused production company for documentaries, announced a new development fund for mid-career filmmakers of color. Named after co-founder Stanley Nelson’s mentor and pioneering Black documentarian, the William Greaves Fund will support nonfiction directors with funding and mentorship in the efforts to help sustain long careers and complete their projects. The company announced the new initiative, which will launch this year, as part of their 20th-anniversary celebration at the Sundance Film Festival on January 27. 

Firelight Media will award between seven to 10 grants up to $25,000 annually for filmmakers to use for research and develop fundraising materials like film treatments, decks, and sizzle reels. The fund will also provide mentorship and guidance through the development and production stages. For its first round of applications, Firelight Media will consider filmmakers from the US, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia, and Brazil, with plans to expand to support filmmakers of color internationally in the next year. 

“I was lucky enough to have Bill Greaves as my first and most important mentor. He was a giant in the documentary field who was generous enough to share his wealth of knowledge with younger generations,” said Nelson in a statement. Firelight Media also runs an 18-month-long documentary lab for emerging filmmakers and another, Groundwork, which helps underrepresented filmmakers in the U.S. south, midwest and territories. The William Greaves Fund was created in part to help alums of their programs and others for their next projects that center the voices of underrepresented people and topics.

“Over the past 10 years, we have seen too many filmmakers of color have to completely abandon the field because they can’t get their next projects off the ground. Even after producing award-winning feature documentaries and creating real-world impact, they can’t garner the needed support,” said Loira Limbal, Senior Vice President of Programs at Firelight, in the statement. Applications will open on March 1, 2020, and the company will announce the submission guidelines soon.

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Monica Castillo

Monica Castillo is a writer and critic based in New York City. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Village Voice,, Remezcla, the Guardian,...