LEF Moving Image Fund Grants

The goal of LEF New England is to fund the work of independent documentary film and video artists in the region, and to broaden recognition and support for their work, both locally and nationally. It also supports programs that highlight the rich history and ongoing legacy of innovation within New England’s independent film community.

LEF New England launched the Moving Image Fund (MIF) in 2002 to support new film and video work. The Moving Image Fund provides funding across all phases of production, supporting films from the early risk-taking stage, through a film’s completion. In this way, MIF offers a continuum of support for selected projects, while also identifying new talent.

The peer review panel process lies at the heart of LEF's grant review. For the past 20 years, LEF has hosted an external panel process that invites non-fiction filmmakers and professionals from a diversity of perspectives in the field to evaluate and make decisions on LEF's Production and Post-production applications. In 2020, LEF expanded these efforts by inviting three New England-based peer readers for all Pre-production grant applications, whose recommendations informed final grant decisions by LEF staff. In 2021, LEF will be inviting New England-based peer readers at the Letter of Inquiry stage for Production and Post-production grants whose recommendations will inform which projects are invited to the full application stage.

Peer reviewers are anonymous, and change at every round. Nominations of new peer reviewers are accepted on a rolling basis from past LEF grantees and recent peer reviewers.

Through MIF, LEF New England champions work that is provocative, heartfelt, and challenging in style and substance. Since its inception, LEF’s Moving Image Fund has awarded over 400 grants to New England-based independent filmmakers with approximately $4.2 million in funding. The overarching goal of LEF New England’s philanthropic investment is to help build a sustainable and strong community of support for artists and their work.

The strongest proposals will be those that clearly articulate the ways in which the proposed project aligns with the program’s funding criteria.

Funding Criteria

  •  Quality of cinematic form and technique
  •  Originality of filmmaker’s voice, vision, and point of view
  •  Resonance and power of the film’s core idea or story
  •  Feasibility of production

Eligibility Requirements

  •  Projects must be long format; running times of 40 minutes or more.
  •  Primary creative personnel (director and/or producer) must reside in New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont).
  •  Students enrolled in degree-granting programs may not apply.
  •  Multi-channel or installation work will not be considered.
  • LEF no longer requires you to have a confirmed fiscal sponsor at the time that you submit a letter of inquiry or application. However, if you are awarded a grant, you must have a confirmed 501c3 fiscal sponsor in place in order to receive any grant funding. (Find more details about locating a fiscal sponsor on our FAQ page, and reach out to us if you have other questions.)
  •  For prior grantees, a final report on previous LEF grant funding is required. Previous LEF grantees, please click here for important eligibility information
  • To be eligible for Post-production funding, the project for which you are applying must have received previous LEF support. 


Learn more about application requirements and how to apply here.


2021 Moving Image Fund Deadlines

  • The next Production & Post-production LEF Moving Image Fund deadline is Friday, January 22, 2021 at 11:59pm (midnight) Eastern. The submission forms open in November, 2020.   
  • The next Early Development & Pre-Production LEF Moving Image Fund deadline is Friday, June 4, 2021 at 11:59pm (midnight) Eastern. The submission forms open in April, 2021. 

Documentary Core Application

Because the LEF Moving Image Fund has adapted its submission forms from the Documentary Core Application, you might already have a head start on your LEF application or letter of inquiry if you've submitted a grant proposal to another funder that makes use of the Core. Learn more on the Documentary Core Application website.  


Production Grants

A maximum of (6) grants of $15,000 each will be awarded to projects in the production phase during LEF’s major grants review.

Appropriate Use of Funds: Production funds may be used for shooting picture and sound, early stage editing, equipment costs, materials, travel, and staffing (creative, technical, or otherwise).

The Moving Image Fund’s Production Grants have a two-part application process. Filmmakers interested in applying for project support must first submit a letter of inquiry. From these initial inquiries, a smaller pool of applicants is notified in early March about whether they are invited to submit a full application.

Prior to submitting a letter of inquiry, potential applicants are strongly encouraged to read our guidelines, details on how to apply, and frequently asked questions, and to contact LEF New England staff to determine whether the film is eligible and a good fit for LEF's funding priorities.

Letter of Inquiry Deadline

  • Friday, 22 January 2021 - 11:59pm


Letter of Inquiry Requirements

Interested applicants should submit a completed form (click on the Submit button to begin) in addition to a current work sample.

LOI Checklist

The LOI form asks for the following information:


  • Applicant Contact Information
  • Fiscal Sponsor Contact Information (NOTE: New in 2021, LEF no longer requires you to have a confirmed fiscal sponsor at the time that you submit a letter of inquiry. However, this submission form does provide the option for you to share who your confirmed or potential fiscal sponsor will be. If you are awarded a grant, you must have a confirmed 501c3 fiscal sponsor in place in order to receive any grant funding. Find more details about locating a fiscal sponsor on our FAQ page, and reach out to us if you have other questions.)
  • Project Title
  • Project Website (optional)
  • Estimated Running Time
  • Log Line (Suggested Length: Approximately 2-3 sentences)
  • Story Summary/Synopsis (Suggested Length: Approximately 1-2 pages)
  • Artistic Approach  (Suggested Length: Approximately ½ page)
  • Project Stage and Timeline (Suggested Length: Approximately 1 paragraph)
  • Key Creative Personnel (Suggested Length: Approximately 1 paragraph/short bio - approximately 50-150 words - each)
  • Budget Summary (NOTE: New in 2021, LEF no longer requires you to submit a full line-item budget at the LOI stage. However, this submission form does ask you to submit a summary of your estimated project budget. If you are invited to submit a full application in March, you will be asked to submit a full line-item budget. At that time, you may use your own budget form and/or the LEF Budget Template here. Learn more about documentary budgeting here.) 
  • Funding to Date
  • Work Sample Information
  • Previous LEF Support Information. If you are a previous grantee, please make sure you have sent a final report on your last funded project to LEF Program Officer Gen Carmel at gen@lef-foundation.org. The final report form is here.


Work Sample

  • Please submit up to 10 minutes of sample footage from the current project for review. If your sample is longer than 10 minutes in length, please specify which 10 minutes to prioritize when viewing. If you don't specify the time segment, the first 10 minutes will be reviewed. The sample can include research footage, character sketches, or rough scenes from the project for which you are applying for funding. Work samples should be submitted in your application form as Vimeo links that will remain available to view online by peer reviewers through the duration of your application review timeline. You may also supplement this current work sample with a sample from a completed past work for review, if relevant to the style or execution of the current project. Please complete all fields per work sample. Learn more about creating a LEF work sample on our How to Apply page.


IMPORTANT - You may begin filling information on the submission form, leave and return later as many times as necessary to complete the form. However, you must hit the SAVE button at the end of the page before leaving. ONCE YOU SUBMIT THE FORM YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO EDIT YOUR APPLICATION INFORMATION OR SUBMITTED FILES.

There is a 21 day limit on saved applications, which can be refreshed each time you re-save your application.

We recommend drafting and saving your work in an offline file, in case you encounter any issues when saving your work online.


Global Data Protection Regulation Consent:

By submitting this letter of inquiry, you agree to allow LEF to use the information you provide to be in touch with you by phone or e-mail about updates on your application, to process this information in order to make a funding decision, and, if your project is selected for funding, to share your project's title, brief description and direction/production team members in our public Moving Image Fund grant directory and public grant announcement. If you are awarded a grant for a project that has sensitive subject matter, and would like to take additional measures to protect the privacy of those involved with the film, please contact LEF staff, and we would be happy to discuss this with you after an award decision is made.

Trouble submitting? Contact Submittable at support@submittable.com or 855.467.8264.

Proposal Questions? Call Gen Carmel at LEF New England (617)492.5333 or email gen@lef-foundation.org.

Post-production Grants

A maximum of (4) grants of $25,000 each will be awarded to projects in the post-production phase during LEF’s major grants review. In order to be eligible for Post-production support, the project for which you are applying must have received previous LEF support.

Appropriate Use of Funds: Post-production funds may be used for editing costs, rights, online, sound mix, color correction, transfers and distribution strategy.

The Moving Image Fund’s Post-production Grants have a two-part application process. Filmmakers interested in applying for project support must first submit a letter of inquiry. From these initial inquiries, a smaller pool of applicants is notified in early March about whether they are invited to submit a full application.

Prior to submitting a letter of inquiry, potential applicants are strongly encouraged to read our guidelines, details on how to apply, and frequently asked questions, and to contact LEF New England staff to determine whether the film is eligible and a good fit for LEF's funding priorities.

Letter of Inquiry Deadline

  • Friday, 22 January 2021 - 11:59pm


Letter of Inquiry Requirements

Interested applicants should submit a completed form (click on the Submit button to begin) in addition to a current work sample. 

 
LOI Checklist

The LOI form asks for the following information:

  • Applicant Contact Information
  • Fiscal Sponsor Contact Information (NOTE: New in 2021, LEF no longer requires you to have a confirmed fiscal sponsor at the time that you submit a letter of inquiry. However, this submission form does provide the option for you to share who your confirmed or potential fiscal sponsor will be. If you are awarded a grant, you must have a confirmed 501c3 fiscal sponsor in place in order to receive any grant funding. Find more details about locating a fiscal sponsor on our FAQ page, and reach out to us if you have other questions.)
  • Project Title
  • Project Website (optional)
  • Estimated Running Time
  • Log Line (Approximately 2-3 sentences)
  • Story Summary/Synopsis (Suggested Length: Approximately 1-2 pages)
  • Artistic Approach  (Suggested Length: Approximately ½ page)
  • Project Stage and Timeline (Suggested Length: Approximately 1 paragraph)
  • Key Creative Personnel (Suggested Length: Approximately 1 paragraph/short bio - approximately 50-150 words - each)
  • Budget Summary (NOTE: New in 2021, LEF no longer requires you to submit a full line-item budget at the LOI stage. However, this submission form does ask you to submit a summary of your estimated project budget. If you are invited to submit a full application in March, you will be asked to submit a full line-item budget. At that time, you may use your own budget form and/or the LEF Budget Template here. Learn more about documentary budgeting here.)
  • Funding to Date
  • Work Sample Information
  • Previous LEF Support Information. If you are a previous grantee, please make sure you have  sent a final report on your last funded project to LEF Program Officer Gen Carmel at gen@lef-foundation.org. The final report form is here.


Work Sample

  • Please submit up to 10 minutes of sample footage from the current project for review. If your sample is longer than 10 minutes in length, please specify which 10 minutes to prioritize when viewing. If you don't specify the time segment, the first 10 minutes will be reviewed. The sample can include research footage, character sketches, or rough scenes from the project for which you are applying for funding. Work samples should be submitted in your application form as Vimeo links that will remain available to view online by peer reviewers through the duration of your application review timeline. You may also supplement this current work sample with a sample from a completed past work for review, if relevant to the style or execution of the current project. Please complete all fields per work sample.  Learn more about creating a LEF work sample on our How to Apply page.


IMPORTANT - You may begin filling information on the submission form, leave and return later as many times as necessary to complete the form. However, you must hit the SAVE button at the end of the page before leaving. ONCE YOU SUBMIT THE FORM YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO EDIT YOUR APPLICATION INFORMATION OR SUBMITTED FILES.

There is a 21 day limit on saved applications, which can be refreshed each time you re-save your application.

We recommend drafting and saving your work in an offline file, in case you encounter any issues when saving your work online.

Global Data Protection Regulation Consent:

By submitting this letter of inquiry, you agree to allow LEF to use the information you provide to be in touch with you by phone or e-mail about updates on your application, to process this information in order to make a funding decision, and, if your project is selected for funding, to share your project's title, brief description and direction/production team members in our public Moving Image Fund grant directory and public grant announcement. If you are awarded a grant for a project that has sensitive subject matter, and would like to take additional measures to protect the privacy of those involved with the film, please contact LEF staff, and we would be happy to discuss this with you after an award decision is made.

Trouble submitting? Contact Submittable at support@submittable.com or 855.467.8264.

Proposal Questions? Call Gen Carmel at LEF New England (617)492.5333 or email gen@lef-foundation.org.

LEF Foundation