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BFI Doc Society
Ripple Effect Fund

The BFI Doc Society Ripple Effect Fund is now closed, thank you for applying.
The BFI Doc Society Ripple Effect Fund is a new National Lottery funded initiative that enables and empowers communities, networks and organisations to build their own inclusive vision for the independent UK documentary sector from the ground up. If you have new and collaborative ideas to support underrepresented documentary storytellers, to reach diverse audiences or to foster closer connections and amplify the work of grassroots nonfiction champions - tell us what they look like.
Let's create ripples of action and build a stronger eco-system for documentary film in the UK.

The BFI Doc Society Ripple Effect Fund (The Ripple Effect) supports activity that can be delivered before March 2022. It is open for one round and applicants can apply for a non-recoupable grant of between £5,000-£20,000.

Please note, the Ripple Effect Fund is not a production fund and cannot support any filmmaking costs.

What the fund can support

The BFI Doc Society Ripple Effect Fund is aimed at helping the independent documentary sector thrive and be more visible as a vital part of a vibrant independent film culture in the UK. The Ripple Effect can fund organisers to build and diversify documentary specific networks, documentary talent development activities and audience engagement work that is rooted in diversity and driven by community, particularly in areas of the UK where documentary film is underserved. The Ripple Effect will help kickstart documentary-focused ideas and activities that boost connectivity for documentary filmmakers across the UK, create inclusive opportunities for underrepresented non-fiction voices and develop new audiences.

We are looking for applications for activity that intends to achieve one or more of the following aims:

  • Deliver innovative and essential documentary community activities in the UK with diversity and inclusion at the heart.
  • Strengthen and deepen the ambition of diverse community groups, networks, collectives and organisations resulting in increased opportunities for documentary film.
  • Increase engagement with independent documentary film within underrepresented communities.

Who can apply?

  • Individuals and non-profit organisations
  • UK based applicants
  • Individuals who are over 18 and not in full time education

What are we unable to fund?

Funded activity must take place in the UK and be specifically focused on documentary. We cannot fund:

  • activity that has already taken place or will have taken place prior to us making any grant award
  • activity that is not community-based
  • funding for the development, production or completion of documentary film
  • activity that has been, or is currently supported by other BFI National Lottery funding

Please see the fund guidelines for our full eligibility criteria.

How to apply….

Spread the word @TheDocSociety #DocRippleEffect

The BFI Doc Society Ripple Effect awards funds from the National Lottery

The BFI Doc Society Ripple Effect Fund is now closed, thank you for applying
Fund Guidelines
Application Questions Preview
Budget Template (XLS)
(please upload after you have submitted your application)

Talk to us!

If you have questions, please register here for our BFI Doc Society Ripple Effect Fund webinar on Monday 24 May at 5.00pm - 6.00pm (BST). The webinar will have BSL interpretation and live closed captioning available.

Access Requirements:

If you have any access requirements to enable you to apply for this fund, please complete an Access Request Form. If this is not possible or if you need assistance with this, please contact hello@docsociety.org and let us know how we can help.

Do you have questions?

If, having read the guidelines in full, you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch on hello@docsociety.org

Bring us
your truth

BFI Doc Society
Features Fund

The BFI Doc Society Fund will open in summer 2021

The BFI Doc Society Fund aims to develop storytellers from all parts of the UK, backing feature projects with bold cultural and social ambitions.

The Fund will encourage filmmakers to take risks on form and content, where the more commercial sector cannot. We heart the cinema, but we are also platform agnostic and open to projects that reach audiences in new ways.

We can support:

  • Any stage - Development, Production, Completion
  • First time filmmakers
  • Hybrid forms
  • Multi-platform

What we don’t fund:

  • Filmed productions such as a theatre show, filmed sporting or music event
  • Artist installation work
  • Journalism
  • Films intended primarily for broadcast television

To bear in mind:

Got some questions?

Watch our BFI Doc Society Fund presentation here

Made of Truth: BFI Doc Society Short Film Fund

Made of Truth: BFI Doc Society Short Film Fund will open in June 2021

Now in our third year, Made of Truth invites passionate filmmakers to take on the challenge of documenting our tumultuous times on film.

Although the current conditions may create boundaries for how to make your film, we invite you to make a virtue out of necessity. We welcome stories made locally. Or maybe you would like to make an archive-based short? Or a re-imagining of that fantastic long-form story you’ve been filming, that might be best told in the short format? As ever we remain deeply committed to films that shed new light on the climate crisis and those that respond to the changing world around us.

Made of Truth is part of BFI NETWORK and the Fund uses National Lottery money to support all forms of non-fiction: personal stories, hybrid fiction/non-fiction, artist films, essays, observational and social issue projects. We’re also open to looking at VR and immersive projects, which are firmly rooted in the documentary genre.

We’re looking for emerging creatives who are yet to make a non-fiction feature film. You may have a track record in another form or genre and are keen to make a short, which helps develop your talent on the path to long-form documentary feature filmmaking, or you may have made a doc short or two already.

We accept ideas from short and sweet 5 minute wonders to multi-layered 40 minute pieces, encouraging applicants to consider their audience and the appropriate length for their film and the opportunities that may come with keeping it under twenty minutes.

Take a look at some of our recent shorts here and watch these in full online: The Nightcrawlers, The Masses and The Circle.

Whatever you’re considering, please do check out the Corona risk assessment protocols, which will guide you through the process of deciding how and where to film.

Made of Truth: BFI Doc Society Fund is committed to building a diverse community of filmmakers and working with creatives from from underserved backgrounds including BAME, LGBTQ+, mixed ability and non-filmmaking talent. We would like to hear from new storytellers from around the country and all communities and are especially keen to increase the number of projects originated outside London and from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.


We’ve got the cold hard cash and can fund ten short films with budget contributions of up to £15,000 and are happy to look at ideas of any length up to 40 minutes. Applications will be accepted until 12 noon (BST) on Friday 21st August 2020 (deadline extended) and once selected, films will need to be delivered by the end of March 2021. Documentary filmmakers and those with equivalent experience over the age of 18 are welcome to apply.

Projects will receive creative and mentorship support from the BFI Doc Society team, and relevant industry partners. Filmmakers do not need to have a producer or production company to apply, as we can facilitate partnerships with producers for successful applicants.


The only way we can assess projects and offer advice is for applicants to submit their proposal and materials via our online application system.

The Fund is now open and submissions will close at 12 noon (BST) on Friday 21st August 2020.

We will then be in touch with all applicants within 8 weeks of the fund closing with the decision to progress or decline your application.


Please check out our comprehensive guidelines which should help with any burning questions. If you can’t find what you need, please contact our BFI Doc Society Production Manager Hannah Bailey at hello@docsociety.org


BFI Doc Society
Production SOS Fund

The BFI Doc Society SOS Fund is CLOSED

Opens Thursday 11 June, 2020 - closed at 12.00 noon (BST) Thursday 2 July, 2020.
The BFI Doc Society Production SOS Fund has been launched (using funds from the National Lottery) to support British producers whose independently financed documentary feature project has been interrupted by the COVID 19 pandemic. We hear your SOS and acknowledge the very challenging circumstances that many independent documentary filmmakers are facing in these unprecedented and uncertain times.

The BFI Doc Society Production SOS Fund is intended to help put production companies in the best possible position to allow production of their documentary features to resume as soon as it is safe and practical.

The topline:

  • The BFI Doc Society Production SOS Fund will be open for one round of applications for three weeks from Thursday 11 June, 2020 - Thursday 2 July, 2020 @ 12:00 noon (BST).
  • We aim to provide selected projects with funds by the end of July 2020.
  • The total fund is £200,000, and can offer non-recoupable grants for up to a maximum of £15,000.

Applications closed
at 12.00 noon (BST)
Thursday 2 July, 2020.

Fund Guidelines (PDF)

Preview the Application Form questions (PDF)

Cultural Test

What are the eligibility requirements?

Your application can only be considered if you are able to answer yes to to the below statements:

  • My project has incurred unexpected additional production costs due to interruption as a result of COVID-19 that cannot be covered by other sources.
  • My project is a “single project” documentary feature length film, which will be at least 69 minutes in length.
  • My project has a production budget of no more than £1,500,000, and was already in active late pre-production or filming when it was interrupted.
  • My project is independently financed, ie: not fully financed by a studio/quasi or mini studio, another SVOD, other online-platform or commissioning broadcaster.
  • I am able to evidence that I have secured all, or a substantial portion of the funding required to cover the production to reach at least rough cut stage of the documentary film (i.e. excluding and COVID-19 related costs) and that such funding will remain available upon resumption of production.
  • My application is being made by the lead UK production entity for the project, which is a company registered and centrally managed in the UK.
  • My project passes the UK Cultural Test

What the fund can’t support:

  • We are unable to provide funding for filmed productions such as a theatre show, filmed sporting or music event, artist installation work, or material intended primarily for broadcast television.
  • We cannot retrospectively cover costs or for payment of deferred fees.
  • The fund is intended for projects which have not received or been awarded funding from the BFI Doc Society Feature Film Fund.

For full details on eligibility and assessment, please read the fund Guidelines.

I have a question

Please read the guidelines carefully, if you still have a question about the fund contact: hello@docsociety.org


BFI Doc Society Locals are free, participatory events taking place across the UK offering informative sessions and networking for anyone who has or is thinking about making creative documentaries. Delivered as part of BFI NETWORK, the aim is to create more connectivity across the UK documentary sector, to explore and showcase the opportunities available and to hear from you and about your stories.

Open to all whether you’re new to non-fiction film, an experienced doc-maker or simply doc-curious: BFI Doc Society Locals explore the current landscape in the UK for creative nonfiction filmmaking and aim to help build a diverse and thriving british independent docs community.

Previously we have hosted Locals in Newcastle, Belfast, Cardiff, Lewes, Birmingham, Manchester and in 2020, due to Covid-19, we took them online.

View our virtual sessions online here:

BFI Doc Society Local at Glasgow Film Festival - March 2021

BFI Doc Society Local East - Nov 2020

BFI Doc Society Local South West - August 2020

We’d love to hear from organisations and those working to enrich and diversify their local documentary community, if you’d like to collaborate contact: fiona@docsociety.org

For news on our next events, please sign up for our newsletter and follow us @TheDocSociety

I've got a question

Please check out our comprehensive guidelines which should help with any burning questions. If you can’t find what you need, please contact our BFI Doc Society Production Manager Hannah Bush Bailey at hello@docsociety.org

To make sure you’re in the loop, please ensure you’re signed up to our newsletter

Grantee statistics

Doc Society has been asked for greater transparency on the BFI Doc Society Fund and on reflection, our public information about our work was not as transparent as we had assumed, and so, we are grateful for the feedback and happy to offer information HERE on the BAME and black projects and talent funded, on the protagonists of the stories told. Black, Asian and other minority ethnic filmmakers should have the information they need to hold the structures of cultural decision making accountable.

We will continue to share information across ALL grantees in the future. All filmmakers who apply - including those with disabilities, from LGBTQI+ and underserved communities will benefit from the effort to share further information.

Awards Directory

If you would like to find out which documentary projects are recipients of awards through the BFI Doc Society Fund, please find our directory here.