Sugarcane, directors Julian Brave NoiseCat and Emily Kassie
Sugarcane, directors Julian Brave NoiseCat and Emily Kassie
Black Snow, director Alina Simone
Black Snow, director Alina Simone
Driver, director/producer Nesa Azimi
Driver, director/producer Nesa Azimi

How to Apply

Frequently Asked Questions for the Catapult Research Grant:

Deadlines and Eligibility

What are the key dates to keep in mind if I am applying for the research grant?

This year, Catapult is shifting to a two-step application process. Applicants must first submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) by November 3, 2023. After an internal review, selected projects will be invited to submit the full application in late November. Grantees will be announced in early spring 2024. The six-month program requires attendance and participation from March through September 2024, including orientation, mentorship meetings, group sessions, and a final presentation.

How many times is the Research Grant open per year?

We review applications once per year.

How will I know that you received the application?

You should receive a confirmation email after submitting your application. If you do not receive a confirmation, please contact us to make sure we have received your application. If we have follow-up questions or need more information or materials we will contact you. Important: Please be sure to include the title of the film in the subject line of any communications with us.

Can I reapply for the grant?

If you were not chosen for funding on your first application, you are welcome to reapply if there are new developments in the proposal. Please be sure to indicate clearly on the second application how it differs from the initial application. If you have been turned down twice, we suggest that you contact us before reapplying — it’s possible that your project is just not a good fit for us.

Can students apply for this grant?

No, Catapult does not support student projects. Applicants cannot be enrolled in an academic institution.

How many grants will be awarded? What is the grant amount?

We award five Catapult Research Grants per cycle. The Catapult Research Grant is for $10,000 USD.

Do you accept applications from filmmakers outside the U.S.?

No, the Catapult Research Grant is open to U.S.-based filmmakers only. The filmmaker must be based in the United States, Puerto Rico, or other U.S. territories.

Does my project have to take place in the US?

No, your protagonists, topics, and story can take place in other territories outside the U.S.

Do I need a fiscal sponsor to apply?

No, you do not need a fiscal sponsor to apply. If chosen for funding, however, you will need a US based 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor in place to receive the funds.

Selection Criteria

How do I know if I’m at the right stage to apply for the research grant?

Filmmakers best suited for the research grant are in the early conception, research, and development of a new film idea. They are still working to define their character’s plot, story, tone, and visual language.

What type of projects are you interested in?

Catapult is committed to prioritizing diverse filmmakers at any stage in their filmmaking careers. We are open to all lengths of projects (feature and shorts) and value creativity and uniqueness. We do not accept fiction films, projects in late development, production, or post-production, docuseries, episodic, or hosted projects. Animation is okay. Documentary/narrative hybrids will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

What is Catapult looking for in terms of story?

We are looking for filmmakers who have a connection to the story. The story should be timeless and have contemporary relevance. We also value uniqueness, creativity, and an appealing cinematic approach. The strongest applications are clear and can show specificity on how the grant will be used.

What can I use the grant for?

The Catapult Research Grant can be used for a variety of needs for developing new nonfiction film ideas including research, writing, travel, crew, identifying and gaining access to characters, and any preliminary production costs associated with shaping the artistic vision or capturing initial footage. Applicants cannot use the grant for production, post-production, promotional materials, marketing purposes, or for applying/researching other funding opportunities.

Procedures & Guidelines

Can I submit more than one LOI for different projects in the same round?

We highly recommend submitting your strongest project for consideration. This program is intended to support directors with a clear idea of a specific project they want to further research and refine. We only support one project per director at a time.

Can I apply for both the research and development grant with the same project?

No, you cannot apply for both grants with the same project. Please review our program guidelines and eligibility to confirm the correct stage for application.

Can my project be in a language other than English?

We do accept projects in languages other than English. There should be a version with English subtitles and we will need an application in English as well.

Can a team of co-directors apply?

Yes, co-directors can apply for the research grant.

What is the deliverable of the grant?

Deliverables for the grant will be non-prescriptive and individually designed based on the grantee’s goals. Some possible outcomes include: characters identified and access secured, story and topic research, completion of the core application. A budget of how the grant was used will also be requested.

When is the mentorship period?

The mentorship aspect of the grant begins in March 2024 and ends in September 2024.

Can you tell me more about the mentorship aspect of the grant?

The mentorship is offered on a cohort and individual basis. The cohort will meet for three times over six months. Each meeting (held virtually until further notice) will focus on a different topic and each discussion will be tailored to the unique projects. Discussion will provide critical supportive feedback with a sense of creative community and camaraderie. In addition, there will be 5 individual calls with your mentor to discuss your progress and shape your story. By the end of the mentorship, the cohort of five filmmakers should emerge with a broader perspective on their projects and a clearer understanding of goals and next steps to getting their projects off the ground. The Catapult team will also provide one-on-one assistance in areas such as feedback on written materials and help with the core application/first application for development funding.