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Documentary Exploration Grants

Updates

The 2020-21 grant cycle has closed.

Check back in February 2022 for information on how to apply.

Continue reading to learn more about the grant, the application process, and mentors.

About

Watch the video for a Q&A with "The Dawn Wall" directors Peter Mortimer '96 and Josh Lowell '94, and co-producer Nick Rosen '97. Followed by an information session for the CC Documentary Exploration Grants (starting from 40:20)

Background and Purpose:

The Colorado College Documentary Exploration Grants seek to use documentary filmmaking as a means to tell today's most powerful stories. Given the ability of film to support interdisciplinary conversations and analysis, students across campus are invited to apply for grants to research and create character-driven documentary films that push them outside their comfort zone and challenge their world-view. Competitive projects will explore personal, social, environmental, or cultural perspectives; engage an audience; and invite solutions for a healthier and more sustainable future.

The grant also encourages students to take advantage of the network of CC alumni in the documentary filmmaking space. Students will be able to tap into the collective expertise of these alumni through close mentorship throughout the life of the project. Based on need, one or two alumni will help guide the filmmaking journey.

Funding:

Grants will range from $500 - $10,000 based on the budgetary needs of the proposed project. Projects should be entirely student produced.

Grant monies may not be used to purchase filmmaking equipment or other gear that becomes the property of the student; however, gear rental, travel, food costs, special services, finishing and festival costs, and other expenses may be supported.

Eligibility:

All students, regardless of major and including graduating seniors, in good academic standing are eligible to apply, assuming they meet the requirements spelled out in the application. Filmmaking teams are supported and encouraged.

Timeline:

  • March 11, 2021: Information Session at 1:30 pm
  • March 11, 2021: Applications open
  • April 11, 2021: Applications close
  • April 26 - May 3, 2021: Finalists interviews
  • May 11, 2021: Recipients announced at Honors Convocation

Projects are expected to be completed within a calendar year; they will be showcased at a public screening event in Cornerstone Arts Center. Recipients will introduce their work and provide commentary on the process for making their film. 

How to Apply

Use the links on the right to submit an application

Elevator Pitch (2-3 sentences)

  • Catchy summary

Qualifications (1-2 paragraphs + link and letter)

  • Description of relevant coursework and/or experience
  • Work Sample (previous film)
  • Background in subject matter
  • Letter of support from a faculty member or alumna/us

Synopsis (2 paragraphs)

  • Overview Anticipated Plot
  • Characters Narrative trajectory

Topic (1-2 paragraphs)

  • Why make this film? Themes
  • Issue(s) it addresses and how Challenges

Approach (2 paragraphs)

  • Creative vision/style
  • Access to story and characters
  • Technical approach - camera platform, editing software, etc.

Intended Audience and Outcome (1 paragraph)

  • What audience do you intend to reach?
  • How will you evaluate your project's personal/social/cultural impact?
  • If you have a non-profit partnership, please list the organization.

Distribution Plan (1 paragraph)

  • How will the film be seen?

Collaboration (1-2 paragraphs)

  • If this is a team project, please outline how the collaboration will work and what strengths each member brings to the project

Internship/Mentorship (1 paragraph)

  • Is there a specific alumna/us that would be the best fit for your project? Why?

Costs

  • Comprehensive budget

Timeline

  • Projected timeline, with dates, for pre-production, production, post-production

FAQs

Q: Do I need to be a Film and Media Studies major to apply?

A: No! All students, from all majors, including graduating seniors, are eligible to apply. However, you should be able to demonstrate the ability to complete your project successfully – which means you and your team should have sufficient filmmaking experience to do so.

 

Q: I don’t have a team. Can I propose to make a documentary by myself?

A: Yes, but collaborative teams are encouraged. It’s hard to make a good documentary, and other people help. Reach out to others.

 

Q: I am still a CC student, but my team includes recent CC graduates. Is that OK?

A: Yes. At least one team member must be a current student, and that person will be the grantee.  

 

Q: I am a CC student, my team consists of people who are not associated with CC. Is that OK?

Possibly, but it’s not encouraged. The granted projects are supposed be works of CC community. If you have non-CC team members, please describe in your application why these team members are vital to the project.

 

Q: Do I need to propose an outdoor adventure documentary to be granted?

No! Granted documentaries can be of any type, style, or subject matter. However, your documentary should tell a compelling, character-driven story that has the potential to engage an audience both cinematically and narratively. A sense of character and story is crucial to a successful proposal. If you don’t have a compelling central character yet, your proposal should describe how you propose to find one.

 

Q: Does my documentary idea need to include travel to be granted?

A: No! We conceive of “exploration” broadly in considering projects. However, travel expenses are valid items for your budget.

 

Q: Will the road/ski/rafting/kayak/biking/hiking trip I want to take with my friends this summer make a compelling documentary?

A: Probably not. While the documentary filmmaking process is always incredibly challenging, and incredibly fun, the committee is unlikely to grant a project that seems like a veiled subsidy for a filmmaker’s hobby or vacation.

 

Q: I don’t know exactly how much this is going to cost. How detailed does my budget need to be?

A: Do your best, and do some research. The budget should give us a clear idea that you understand what will be needed to make your documentary. It can include time/travel for scouting purposes; gear rental costs; travel costs; editing and post-production costs; licensing costs; finishing funds; and outreach costs, among others. The committee may grant you less or more than you request, given the scope of your proposed project.

 

Q: May I borrow gear from the Film and Media Studies Program, if my project is granted?

A: Yes, subject to your experience with the gear you are requesting and subject to the curricular needs of the Film and Media Studies program. You should have completed at least one filmmaking course at CC to request program gear. Summer projects are the easiest to support with FM gear, given the demands on FM gear during the academic year. Beginning 2021, however, one full gear kit should be available on a first-priority basis for Documentary Exploration grantees during the regular academic year. Once you are granted, please send your gear “wish list” and proposed dates to FM Technical Director Kevin Beechwood (kbeechwood@coloradocollege.edu).

 

Q: How does the mentorship process work?

A: You will be assigned a project mentor or mentors shortly following your grant award. You must meet with your mentor(s) prior to any filming and at various key milestones during the project. You must submit your project to your mentor at the rough cut stage for feedback and advice. Your mentors are there to support and help you – let them!

 

Q: When do I need to finish the project, and what kind of reporting or updates do I need to provide?

A: All projects are expected to be finished within a calendar year. Grantees are expected to provide status updates and production photos to Film and Media as requested during the process; to showcase their completed projects at an annual screening event in Cornerstone; and to provide us with access to the final project for our records. And of course, if your project screens at festivals or other venues, we want to know! Finally, please acknowledge the “Colorado College Documentary Exploration Grants Program” in your final credits.

 

Q: I am a rising senior. May I use the Documentary Exploration Grant to support my thesis?

A: If you are proposing to make a documentary as part of your thesis, for Film and Media Studies or in another department, you may use your Documentary Exploration Grant to support that thesis. However, receiving a Documentary Exploration Grant for a project does not guarantee that that project will be approved as a thesis project. All thesis projects at Colorado College are subject to a given department’s approval and advising processes.

 

Q: What can I do to ensure my application is as competitive as possible?

A: While we understand COVID has presented a serious challenge to filmmaking like any aspect of life, focusing on the elements below as much as possible will significantly improve your application.

  1. Subjects: Get in touch with your subjects. Show us they are not just strangers. Have solid plans (A, B, C) for access. We need to be convinced it won’t be a problem.
  2. Specifics: Give us something beyond the concept. What is the story here? The narrative arc? Don’t just tell but visualize and show. Make use sample footage, if possible.
  3. Teams: Filmmaking is a collective endeavor and we always appreciate a good team that makes best use of everyone’s strengths.

 

Q: I have more questions. Whom do I talk to?

A: Professor Baran Germen (bgermen@coloradocollege.edu) can help you with any questions about the grant. 

Report an issue - Last updated: 10/12/2021