The presentation was conversational and very positive considering a documentary filmmaker's development fund options out there. Catapult offers something rare in an industry of funding opportunities, which often require films at a rough cut stage before being eligible for consideration.
Catapult is still a relatively young fund. It has just been around since 2010, but has already helped some memorable works, such as Call Me Kutchu (2012) as well as a few upcoming standouts, such as an Anita Hill documentary.
Founded by investor and philanthropist, Lisa Kleiner Chanoff, along with filmmaker, Bonni Cohen, Catapult's mission is to enable filmmakers to develop their film project to the next level at a stage where funding is hard to find.
Kleiner Chanoff explained how her and Cohen evaluate submissions. Some of the points they take into account are whether the fund would make an impact in launching the project, as well as how their grant moneys would be used. They are open to various types of projects. She mentioned a range of films that have received funding but are different, such as the art film on forgery entitled, Art And Craft versus the social issue film, Remote Area Medical. They really are just looking for compelling stories with secured access to those stories. They also fund doc shorts, which I thought was pretty exciting. Minimum length is 28 minutes.
Some of the fund's decision making process includes consideration of the filmmaker's prior work. They will fund first time filmmakers, but this is an exception to the norm. They also take into account what might have been made, or is coming out, that is similar to the submission.
Kleiner Chanoff also mentioned that if you don't get funded the first time, you can apply again but that it is important to note in the application, what has changed since the last submission.
The evening was very informative and Lisa Kleiner Chanoff appeared very approachable and straight forward about what the fund does and doesn't do, but quite honestly they've done a lot for a fund that's only been around for a few years.
It's refreshing to know the term "Development Funds" is not make believe, but alive and well in the present, ready to nurture a story at seed.