Silverdocs may be a sweet memory but it is still very much on the mind of those of us in the documentary community. Our amazing film reviewer Matthew Radcliff from Paignton Pictures is splitting the Docs In Progress Silverdocs coverage with Erica Ginsberg this year. Here comes the first report from Matt spotlighting some of the conference sessions he attended.
With the economic downturn upon us, it would seem that the outlook for documentary funding in the United States looks bleak. Individual donors are tightening their belts. State and local government funds are being cut across the country, with arts funds often the first to suffer. Corporations facing smaller profits or losses translate into less money being put into their foundations. And media-friendly community foundations have not been immune from the souring economy since many are vested in the stock market (with one - the JEHT foundation which has funded a number of video and audio documentaries on topics related to the legal and human rights implications of the war on terror - has actually ceased to exist as a result of putting too many eggs in the Bernie Madoff basket).
In spite of these depressing facts, funds are still out there. It's just that the competition for them has increased and only the strong and scrappy will survive. That's one of the reasons we are going to draw on our in-house fundraising talent, Sam Hampton, to teach both aspiring and experienced documentary filmmakers everything they need to know about coming up with fundraising proposals. And it's also why we decided to continue our fascination with the power of the Internet as a tool for fundraising by looking at two very different approaches.