AmDoc announces first fund to assist filmmakers with emergencies

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American Documentary, the production company behind the PBS series POV, has launched the first emergency fund for filmmakers facing unexpected losses due to accidents or natural disasters.

“This type of grant program is common in other artistic disciplines, and it seemed time for filmmakers to have a safety net,” said Executive Director Justine Nagan in an announcement Friday. The Artist Emergency Fund “is a first step” toward greater sustainability for those professionals, she said.

“For too many documentary filmmakers, a simple trip to the emergency room can mean years of mounting medical bills,” Nagan said. “Our aim is to make AmDoc as supportive to filmmakers as possible, while also helping build a more inclusive industry that supports the most vulnerable among us.”

Filmmakers can apply for one-time $1,000 grants for “unexpected and substantial” personal, health or property needs, according to the announcement. Grants won’t cover project-related costs.

An advisory board of anonymous industry professionals will review Artist Emergency Fund requests. Applicants will be notified of a decision within two weeks of submission.

Grants are initially limited to $1,000, but that amount could change. “We view this first year as an opportunity to learn, to take scope of the range of emergencies that affect filmmakers in the field and to inform how we can best respond to those needs through a fund like this,” said Keisha Salmon, director of communications and audience development.

The initial $25,000 fund is seeded by the Chicago Media Project, a philanthropy cooperative that lets members support filmmakers and their projects; Genuine Article Pictures, which makes grants to filmmakers “who push the form into new directions”; and the Sage Foundation, a family foundation based in Michigan that helps support charitable organizations and not-for-profit filmmakers.

Chicago Media Project has provided support for a second year, and AmDoc is looking for additional funders to continue the initiative, Salmon said.

The initiative is similar to Greater Public’s Colleagues Helping Colleagues.

This item has been updated and reposted with additional information.

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