Funding FAQ

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General Questions

What kind of funding opportunities does CAAM offer?

CAAM currently has two funding initiatives for non-fiction projects which tackle Asian American narratives and experiences: The Documentary Fund Open Call and the Documentaries for Social Change Fund. The Documentary Fund Open Call is an initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) for programs intended for public television looking to receive production and post-production funds. The Documentaries for Social Change Fund is funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. This program mostly considers projects that are in the research and development phase. The Documentaries for Social Change Fund considers all forms and lengths of programs, from shorts to features, as well as limited series. 

What is the difference between both programs?

If a program is recommended for funding through the CAAM Documentary Fund Open Call, the producer/director will enter into a licensing agreement with CAAM in exchange for public television broadcast rights. A project may receive between $10,000 to $50,000 through the CAAM Documentary Fund Open Call. The CAAM Documentaries for Social Change Fund on the other hand is a grant agreement with a maximum grant award of $15,000.

What is the year-round schedule/timeline for your Open Call program?

In previous years, the CAAM Documentary Fund Open Call was a bi-annual funding initiative with rounds happening every February and July. Starting Fall 2021, CAAM’s Open Call will switch to one round per year.

Why did CAAM decide to switch to one round a year for their Documentary Fund Open Call program?

Due to adjustments in CAAM’s annual calendar of activities, and more targeted public media programming efforts, CAAM decided to focus on one Documentary Fund Open Call round per year. However, CAAM can consider out-of-cycle emergency submissions on a discretionary and rolling basis. For more information, please contact mediafund[at]caamedia[dot]org (

Will CAAM be offering other types of funding opportunities in the near future?

Yes, there are plans to open more specifically targeted funding calls starting in 2022. Please stay tuned for upcoming announcements via our website, social media channels, and our e-newsletter.

Is CAAM’s Documentary Fund Open Call a “grant”?

The CAAM Documentary Fund Open Call is a licensing agreement, NOT a grant. For a filmmaker to accept this funding, they will be signing an agreement that states that the filmmaker has agreed to broadcast their film on public television typically for a period of four (4) years and six (6) broadcast releases. CAAM/CPB refers to this as a licensing agreement for U.S. broadcast and streaming rights for public television.

How large are the Documentary Fund Open Call and Documentaries for Social Change awards?

For CAAM’s Documentary Fund Open Call, funding given to selected projects range between $10,000 to $50,000. The CAAM Documentaries for Social Change Fund on the other hand is a grant agreement with a maximum grant award of $15,000.

Eligibility Questions

What do you mean by Open Call projects needing to be about the Asian American experience?

Projects need to tackle subject matters or topics that resonate with and touch on the Asian American perspective and community. If the pitched project is able to articulate this through their Open Call application, then the project is eligible to receive CAAM funding. 

Can I apply for funding for my student film?

The filmmaker must have sole ownership of the program to be eligible for funding. If your school owns rights to the piece, your project is not eligible for funding.

Do you have to be a US Citizen to apply?

For Documentary Fund, applicants must be a US citizen or legal US resident however, applicants for Documentaries for Social Change Fund can be based in the U.S. with a valid TAX ID/ ITIN.

What is a fiscal sponsor and do I need one to apply?

A fiscal sponsor is a non-profit 501(c)(3) IRS tax-exempt entity that agrees to accept funds from CAAM on your behalf. The fiscal sponsor is responsible for redistributing the funds to the project as needed. It maintains a ledger for all funds accepted and provides CAAM with financial accounting when requested. Most fiscal sponsors require a fee for their services, usually a percentage of the funds accepted through the sponsor. You don’t need to have a fiscal sponsor in place at the time you submit your application to CAAM. However, if you are awarded, you may be asked to retain one. Be advised that some fiscal sponsors have an extensive review process for accepting new projects.

What is broadcast (or errors & omissions) insurance and do I need it in order to apply?

Error & Omissions or E & O insurance protects you from any legal challenges to the material in the program, including accidental trademark and copyright infringement, libel, slander, invasion of privacy, defamation, plagiarism and misappropriation of ideas. You do not need to have E&O insurance in place at the time you submit your application. E&O insurance needs to be purchased only if the program has a secured air date; however, it is the filmmaker’s legal obligation to clear all rights before applying to the CAAM Media Fund.

Accessibility Questions

Who should I contact if I need assistance filling out the application forms?

Applicants may reach out to mediafund[at]caamedia[dot]org ( regarding any questions or if they need assistance filling out any application forms.

Do the application forms on CAAM’s Submittable platform auto-save?

Yes, application form responses are automatically saved every few seconds. 

How many sections are there in the Open Call application form?

The application form is separated into eleven (11) sections, namely:

  • Applicant Information 
  • Address and Contact Information
  • Project and Funding Questionnaire
  • Certification of Eligibility
  • Program Information
  • Program Budget Information
  • Key Personnel Information
  • Project Sample 
  • Director/s’ Previous Work
  • Attachment of Project/Publicity Stills
  • Letters of Commitment 

Application Questions

Does the Documentary Fund Open Call accept projects in research & development?

All Open Call submissions need to be considered in the production or post-production stages to be eligible for the Documentary Fund Open Call program.

Does the Documentary Fund Open Call accept episodic programs?

Yes, we are currently accepting Open Call applications for episodic programs. 

When will I hear back about the results of my Documentary Fund Open Call application?

The Open Call review process takes approximately five (5) months since the Open Call deadline to complete.

Can I send you additional materials such as a press kit?

Supplemental application materials will not be reviewed. Please only send the specific materials that are requested.

What should I include in the letters of commitment? Do I need to obtain one from each crew member? Do I need to send a deal memo?

We do not need deal memos. Letters of commitment are simply signed letters from your key crew/cast expressing their intention to work on the project in their assigned role. While it is encouraged to obtain a letter of commitment from all key personnel, obtaining one from each of the pitched project’s Director/s and Producer/s will suffice. 

What are “in-kind contributions”?

In-kind contributions are products or services that have been donated, e.g., a post-production house providing free or discounted off-line services, a caterer providing food, etc.

What if I want to screen my work at festivals? Does the public television premiere preclude me from applying?

Most of our funded films screen their work at film festivals before they air on public television. The public television premiere pertains to domestic television and does not bar you from premiering your work at a film festival nor does it limit the number of festival screenings before broadcast.

If my project gets recommended for funding, what are the next steps and what does the contract review timeline look like?

Approximately seven (7) months after the Open Call deadline when all submissions have undergone the application review process, Producers of the recommended Open Call projects will receive a notification letter via email from CAAM’s Media Fund Department indicating the details of their award and the next steps for the contract review procedure. The contract review process takes approximately one to two (1-2) months to complete from receipt of documents to contract signing.

Sample Work Questions

What do you mean by “full length rough cut?”

If you are applying for post-production funds, we require a full-length rough cut to be submitted. By this, we mean the film should be close to completion and the running time of the rough cut should be comparable to the final length of the film (26:46, 56:46, 1:26:46 or 1:56:46). We do not accept trailers, selects, demo segments, or assemblies as sample work for post-production.

How long should my sample be for Open Call?

For Open Call, while filmmakers’ previous works are accepted, we strongly recommend that you submit a work-in-progress. Bear in mind that the panel will only watch up to 15 minutes of sample work for each applicant. Thus we also recommend submitting trailers or clips that present the strongest footage of your work that is no more than 15 minutes in length.

Licensing Agreement Questions

What are some of the key things that I should know about CAAM’s licensing agreement?

For projects in production and post-production, the contract consists of a licensing agreement that assigns CAAM the right to present the program for public television broadcast as well as securing Northern California festival premiere rights. The following items are non-negotiable terms in the contract:

  • U.S. broadcast rights for public television
  • General Liability insurance (for production funding only)
  • E&O Insurance obtained pre-broadcast
  • First right of refusal for Northern California festival premiere at CAAMFest
  • Canadian Holdback until ninety (90) days after the Initial Public Television Release of the Program in the U.S.

Program Distribution Questions

Can I sell my program to cable or other streaming platforms?

All projects funded through CAAM’s Documentary Fund Open Call must grant to CAAM exclusive domestic public television rights for no more than four (4) years. This means it must premiere on American public television before any other television broadcast. After public television broadcast, the filmmaker is welcome to take the program to cable or other television broadcast entities. 

If selected, can I stream my program before its public television premiere?

All funded projects funded through CAAM’s Documentary Fund Open Call cannot do streaming before its public television premiere.

Public Media Resources


Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB)

MacArthur Foundation


Asian Documentary Network (A-Doc)

Firelight Media

Independent Lens (IL)

Independent Television Service (ITVS)

International Documentary Association (IDA)

Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)



Reel South

World Channel


CAAM is a proud member of the National Multicultural Alliance (NMCA) which is an alliance of five distinct national organizations, who, with modest support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), bring the authentic stories and diverse perspectives of America’s multicultural communities to public media and its digital platforms.

National Multicultural Alliance

Latino Public Broadcasting

Black Public Media

Vision Maker Media

Pacific Islanders in Communication

Please contact mediafund[at]caamedia[dot]org with any further questions.