For a documentary film to make a difference, a solid strategy for audience engagement and strong partnerships are key. Filmmakers often lack time to do this work themselves or the expertise and the funds to pay for it. Emerging filmmakers, creators of color, and underrepresented artists can face the biggest hurdles, despite the potential of their projects. Working Films’ response to this challenge is the Impact Kickstart, a program offering in-kind partnership and strategy development to underrepresented documentary directors with feature films in progress that hold great promise to catalyze action to address important and current social issues.

“As the documentary and social justice landscape continues to shift and evolve, Working Films remains committed to prioritizing and uplifting underrepresented filmmakers who often face the biggest hurdles despite the potential of their projects,” says Gerry Leonard, Director of Filmmaker Services. “We believe the Impact Kickstart program and grant reflects that commitment to redistribute resources and access within the documentary film ecosystem. This program taps into a film’s inherent strengths, rooted in the goal of creating collective social change and impact.”

Now in its sixth year, the Impact Kickstart program has helped underrepresented filmmakers create strategic goals for impact and specific plans to engage future partners, funders, and audiences in meaningful ways. Impact Kickstart was created to fill a gap in support for the impact campaigns of underrepresented filmmakers, including directors who identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or people of color (BIPOC), undocumented, LGBQ+, nonbinary, transgender, disabled, and female directors with a majority female and/or underrepresented film team.

Two films will be selected for Impact Kickstart in 2023. Each selected filmmaker will receive an Impact Kickstart from Working Films that includes the planning, facilitation, and reporting out from a day-long strategy summit with potential partners and key collaborators. This summit will leave filmmakers well-positioned to carry out an impact campaign with a clear strategy, goals, partners, and a report that can be used for engaging supporters. Impact Kickstart recipients will also receive impact campaign funding of $60,000.

The Impact Kickstart 2023 Call for Applications is currently open! To apply, visit our 2023 Call for Applications page HERE.

The deadline for Impact Kickstart 2023 applications is Thursday, August 31 at 11:59pm EST. To apply, complete our online application using submittable. You’ll create a quick login to work on your application and have your information saved. Before you start, you can find a preview of the application questions in this PDF. The Impact Kickstart 2023 webinar can be viewed here. You can also check out this document of frequently asked questions. If you have any additional questions in the meantime, please email 

Working Films strives to make all of our events and programs accessible, including our application processes. To request an accessibility accommodation or adjustment, please email, or call us at 910-342-9000.

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