The Art of Grant Writing

Grant writing is an essential tool for filmmakers in the documentary community to bring stories to life. This second installment of NYWIFT’s Documentary series will explore key elements to focus on when developing a successful grant proposal.

Speakers will address best practices in grant writing, catching the eye of individual funders with a strong application, how to target your potential funders and other opportunities not explored enough by filmmakers. The panel will also explore The Documentary Core Application, a joint project between The Sundance Institute and the International Documentary Association, established to standardize application requirements.


Kirsten Kelly is an Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker, Senior Producer at Transform Films/Odyssey Impact and Co-founder of Spargel Productions. Her recent film, The Homestretch, about homeless high school students in the Chicago Public Schools, appeared on PBS and won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Reporting. At Transform Films/Odyssey Impact she focuses on development and production for short and feature documentaries and producing impact campaigns. Her projects have been supported by the MacArthur Foundation, the Sundance Institute, ITVS, Kartemquin Films, Good Pitch, The Bertha Foundation, Chicago Media Project, Chicken and Egg and The Fledgling Fund, among others. Kelly is a graduate of Juilliard’s Master Directing program.

Lauren Veloski is a NYC-based documentary producer/story consultant, grant strategist/writer, focusing on films that tell urgent, character-centered stories designed to wake us up. She has also worked extensively on impact producing teams—helping to shape engagement/education campaigns for maximum social impact. She has produced doc series and specials for MTV, Sundance Channel, Discovery, and recently created and directed the Be The Hero series for—a 5-part online doc series profiling women who exemplify Nora Ephron’s mandate to “be the hero of your own story, never the victim.” In her (considerably funnier) non-doc life, Veloski is a screenwriter, and the creator of three original episodic comedies. Her narrative feature Sorry, Thanks world-premiered at SXSW, played 15 festivals internationally, and was acquired by IFC. In all her work, Veloski is committed to creating content that is female-focused, emotionally kinetic, speaks truth to power, and champions our common humanity.

Photo Credit: Guido Venitucci

Kat Vecchio is the director of grantmaking at Fork Films, where she oversees the day-to-day operations of the company’s documentary grants program and serves as the primary contact for Fork Films’ supported filmmakers. Vecchio is also a filmmaker and writer, often exploring popular entertainment in American history. Her first film, This Is How I Roll, takes a behind-the-scenes look into the intense subculture of men’s roller derby. Her writing has appeared online at Narratively and Atlas Obscura, and she is currently working on a project about the lives of female circus performers at the turn of the century. She occasionally teaches the course Launching Your Documentary at Brooklyn Brainery, a community-driven, crowd-sourced educational space. Prior to joining Fork Films in 2010, Vecchio worked in theatre, film, television, and commercial production.

Rose Vincelli Gustine has more than a dozen years experience as a film advisor and programmer. She is Director of Operations and on the faculty of SVA’s MFA Social Documentary Film program. She was a programmer for seminal indie filmmaker advocates the Independent Feature Project (IFP) for many years; there she managed the fiscal sponsorship program along with the IFP Labs for first features and Film Week, their market for documentary works-in-progress. She got her start as a programmer for the Silverdocs festival (now AFIDocs), and has served on the selection committees for the Venice Biennale Cinema College and the Southern Circuit Tour; grant review committees for National Endowment of the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts; and on the juries of the SXSW, Brooklyn, and New Orleans Film Festivals. She is currently co-producing Busy Inside, a documentary feature about women with multiple personalities seeking harmony in their lives, and has previously co-produced or consulting produced several other films. She lives, walks, and cooks with her family in Brooklyn, NY.

Marcia Rock (Moderator) has produced twelve documentaries since 1984 and received many awards including three local Emmys and several nominations. Her work covers international dilemmas, women’s issues as well as personal perspectives. She recently completed two films on veterans, Warriors Return  and Service: When Women Come Marching Home (NY Emmy). Her recent short, Soldiers Period, produced with Patty Stotter, grew out of their work with women veterans and was distributed via social media. Rock’s other films include Salt Harvesters of Ghana (2007) (Best Short, Newburyport Documentary Film) and Writers’ Rooms: The Making of a Mural (2008). Her documentary Daughters of the Troubles: Belfast Stories (1997) won many awards including the AWRT Grand Documentary Award. Rock has produced several pieces on New York City and writers including McSorley’s New York (1987 Emmy), Village Writers: the Bohemian Legacy (1990), and Reynolds Price: a Writer’s Inheritance (1989). Rock’s films have also gone in more personal directions.  Dancing with My Father (2003), ponders how adult love is shaped by what a child learns at home and Surrender Tango (2006) compares the rules and roles of tango with contemporary relationships. Rock is a professor and Director of News and Documentary at the NYU Arthur Carter Journalism Institute. She is co-author with Marlene Sanders of Waiting for Prime Time: The Women of Television News. Her work has been featured on public and cable television. Her films are currently in distribution with Cinema Guild, Filmmakers Library, and Women Make Movies.

This program is produced by Romilla Karnick, Cheree Dillon,
Princess Hairston,
Danielle Edde and Letitia Guillory.

Special Thanks
Marcia Rock, Director of News and Documentary at the NYU Arthur Carter Journalism Institute and Chair of NYWIFT’s Documentary Committee

March 25 @ 6:00pm
6:00 pm — 8:00 pm (2h)

NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute
20 Cooper Square, 7th Floor
New York, N.Y. 10003


$15 for NYWIFT Members
$25 for Nonmembers
Register by prepayment online


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NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.