(image courtesy Cinetic Marketing)

With film production and theatrical distribution on hold across the world due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many people who work in nonfiction film — directors, camera operators, editors, and more — are feeling the financial pressure. And similarly to the myriad relief efforts being implemented to aid workers in other areas of the arts, the documentary community is making moves to look after its own.

Yesterday, the organizations Field of Vision and Topic announced their joint creation of a $250,000 fund to provide grants for industry freelancers who work in documentary. Grantees can will receive up to $2,000 to help alleviate their loss of income. Currently, grants will be disbursed in two blocks, one in April and one in May. Applications are now open for the April block.

American Documentary, the nonprofit behind the venerable public television series POV, has responded by relaunching its Artist Emergency Fund. Previously having distributed over $20,000 to assist independent film workers, the fund is now aimed specifically at helping people who have lost work due to COVID. The new relief fund is offering grants of up to $500 to assist artists in meeting their basic needs during this time. Applications remain open.

Elsewhere, the documentary community is also seeking ways to aid others. The doc-focused streaming platform DAFilms has established a program called “Films for Italy.” Pay to view any of the 19 films in the special selection, and 40% of the proceeds will be donated to hospitals in the Lombardy region of Italy, which has been hit particularly hard by COVID.

Documentary is a perpetually neglected art form, and it’s heartening to see resources such as this become available for workers in the field. In lieu of a full government response, we have to do our best for each other.

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Dan Schindel

Dan Schindel is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Brooklyn, and a former associate editor at Hyperallergic. His portfolio and links are here.

One reply on “Documentary Organizations Rally to Raise Funds for Film Workers During COVID-19”

  1. Myriad groups from across the spectrum – arts, restaurants, travel, etc. – are all desperately trying to raise money.

    What’s wrong with this picture?

    It shows that there is no social welfare system in the US unless you own a bank or hedge fund. They got $4 trillion (so far …).

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