The Film & TV Funding Award is awarded annually to an emerging filmmaker from anywhere in the world with the most promising pitch for a director-led documentary which fulfils the core criteria detailed below. With a main award worth £100,000 and a development award for the runner-up of £20,000, The Whickers Film & TV Funding Award is one of the most significant documentary awards in the world.

Applications for 2024 are now closed.

Key dates for 2024 round:

  • 2nd October 2023: Applications open
  • 7th February 2024 (23:59 GMT): EXTENDED Deadline for applications
  • Late April 2024: Shortlisted projects announced
  • June 2024: Finalists pitch their projects at Sheffield DocFest
  • June 2024: Winner of the Film & TV Funding Award announced at Sheffield DocFest Awards Ceremony

What We Look For

Director-Led Story

  • Storyteller with demonstrably strong interviewing skills.
  • Demonstrates passion for the subject whilst retaining fair-mindedness.
  • Demonstrates a real sense of independence.
  • Personal but not partisan.
  • Wry humour welcome.
  • Strictly no ‘Whicker impersonations’.


  • Unique access to engaging characters in unusual or inaccessible locations.
  • Allows contributor’s story to emerge in their own words.
  • Demonstrates a flair for coaxing the human spirit into revealing itself.
  • The author demonstrates intimacy with but does not overshadow the subject.


  • Spirit of inquisitiveness that leaves viewers wanting more.
  • Tells us about something new and unexpected about the world.
  • Excites wonder.
  • Understands how wit can illuminate the toughest or most nuanced real life drama.

Original use of technology

  • Playful with storytelling means – breaking new ground and/or using old ground to re-invent new style

Not Partisan

  • No campaigning, pre-set agendas or political theories.


  • Must be the filmmaker or filmmakers’ first 50+ minute documentary film where they own the director or co-director credit
  • Open to filmmakers from anywhere in the world. We encourage international filmmakers to apply
  • Projects must be at the late development to early production stage at the time of applying – this is not a finishing fund
  • Award money cannot be paid to an individual. Therefore applicants must either: provide proof of company viability; have a fiscal sponsor on board; have a nominated production company on board to create a dedicated project account for their film; or confirm that they are willing to set up a limited company and dedicated project account if shortlisted.
  • Up to six minutes of original taster footage is required at the time of applying
  • Must be accessible for an English-speaking audience – whether in the English language, or subtitled in English
  • Applicants must have an executive producer on board at the time of applying.
  • Should they be shortlisted, applicants must be available to travel to the UK in June to pitch their project at Sheffield DocFest (reasonable travel and accommodation covered by The Whickers)
  • We ask that the budget for your 50+ minute documentary film does not exceed £400,000 at the time of application
  • Applicants who at the time of application have other funding sources over the value of £300,000 are not eligible.

Application Checklist

We recommend that, well in advance of the deadline, you go through the full application questions in order to prepare your answers according to the requested word limits, and gather the necessary links and information. You can download a Word template of the application form to help you to prepare your answers in advance by clicking the button link at the end of this section; email info@whickerawards.com if you have further queries.  In the meantime, you can expect to answer questions on the following:

Section 1: Title; logline; up to 300 words on how your project meets the criteria

Section 2: Personal and contact details; your role in the project

Section 3: Password protected link to teaser footage; publicity and deadline agreements

Section 4: Your treatment; up to 2000 word synopsis of your project; an estimated budget (in GBP) of various elements in production and post-production of the film; any existing funding or plans for future funding; details of your production company (or project account/fiscal sponsor); details of your executive producer; confirmation that your project complies with our majority sponsor criteria (see section 4.8 in the Funding Award Terms and Conditions)

Section 5: Your background in documentary making (if any); 50 words on how you learnt your filmmaking skills; 50 words on what inspires you to make documentaries; 50 words on how the funding will benefit your project; 50 words on why an audience would really love your film; confirm that you or a member of your team will be able to attend a live pitching event in the UK in June; your compliance with rules on transferring funds; your agreement with our terms and conditions.

Download Application Form Template


Do I need to pay to enter?

No, all of our awards are free to enter.

Do I need to be a UK citizen to apply?

No, we accept applications worldwide.

Does my proposal have to be in English?

Yes, we will only consider proposals written in English. The accompanying taster footage should either be in the English language or subtitled in English. We hope that successful applicants to the Film & TV Funding Award will one day see their work broadcast on UK television, the original home of Whicker’s World.

Is there a deadline for applying to the Film & TV Funding Award?

The deadline for applying for the 2024 Film & TV Funding Award is the 31st of January 2024 (23:59 GMT).

Can I still apply if my Co-Director has previously directed a 50+ minute documentary?

No. Both Director and Co-Directors have to be first-time feature (50+ min) directors.

Can I submit more than one proposal per cycle?

No. We will accept one proposal, per applicant, per award, per year.

When will I find out if I have been successful?

Shortlisted applicants – five projects each year – will be contacted at the end of April 2023. These five finalists will be invited to pitch their projects to a judging panel at Sheffield DocFest in the UK in June 2023 (reasonable travel & accommodation costs covered by The Whickers). The main award-winner and runner-up will be announced at the Sheffield DocFest award ceremony on the evening of the pitch.

Can I request feedback if my project is not accepted?

Due to the volume of applications we receive we unfortunately do not have the capacity to offer feedback to all unsuccessful applications.

Is there an age limit for applying?

No, all of our awards are open to applicants of all ages (18+).

Whicker’s World was all about travel, so are these awards for travel programmes?

No. Whicker’s World was always more about the people rather than the places – and this legacy exists to support documentary-makers who can introduce us to wondrous ‘new worlds’, whether or not they are across the globe or across the room.

What do you mean when you say you are looking for a director-led documentary?

Above all we are looking for a story that could only be told by the filmmaker who is proposing the project. They will have ownership of the story, outstanding access, and a demonstrable passion for the subject at hand.

The phrase that Alan Whicker used in this regard was a ‘signed’ documentary. It meant that he stood by whatever was said or done in the programme, as such Whicker’s World programmes showed the world from Alan’s point of view as he interacted with it. This was true even when it appeared that those he met were doing all the talking and when he hardly appeared on screen. In the same spirit we are looking for your take on another world that remains truthful, professional and acknowledges other points of view. We are also looking for wit and flair in the way you script, edit, select and juxtapose your contributors and perhaps reinvent, or stretch, the grammar of the form to new heights. In other words, we are looking for a story well told. In this way a documentary with no presenter or narrator may still be considered ‘director-led’.

How do I apply?

Visit our apply page. Please note that we can only accept applications via our comprehensive online form. Be sure that you are eligible to apply according to our ‘rules’, criteria, and terms and conditions beforehand.

How long will the application form for the Film & TV Funding Award take me?

Please be prepared to set aside some time for this, as the application process is comprehensive. We recommend reviewing the application form questions in order to prepare your answers and materials in advance. See further details in our application checklist.

Why do I need to provide a trailer/teaser footage with my application for the Film & TV Funding Award?

As well as your idea on the page, we are also judging your ability to realise it in sound and vision. The audiovisual material you provide will give us clues to your style, tone, professionalism, storytelling gifts and the characters you have researched. If you are shortlisted, your footage will be shown as part of a pitching event at Sheffield Doc/Fest in June 2020 in front of top industry judges.

I am currently applying for other sources of funding for my project, am I still eligible to apply?

Yes. However, in order for The Whickers to maintain its non-commercial rights as a major fund holder, you may only apply if other funding awards are less than £300,000 in total and don’t diminish the rights required for the foundation. We therefore ask that the budget you submit for your 50+ minute documentary does not exceed £400,000. See more in our terms and conditions.

Why do I need to have a production company to apply?

We cannot pay award money into a personal bank account. Applicants must either have their own limited production company – or an executive producer with a registered production company willing to create a separate account for project funds. This is to safeguard the award-winners and The Whickers, ensuring that the project can be properly audited so there is never any doubt that the funding has been spent as intended.

If successful, do I receive the £100,000 funding in one instalment?

No. Once you have agreed the deliverables with The Whickers you will receive £30,000. The next payment of £30,000 will be delivered once the principal filming has been completed. The third payment of £30,000 will be delivered when there is a rough cut. The last £10,000 arrives after the fine cut. You can find more information about this in the Film & TV Funding Award Terms & Conditions.

Is the prize money taxed or tax-free?

It depends. As a general rule if one receives an award or prize which is related to their trade or profession it is taxable. If you win a prize which is awarded for merit and where you have not entered then it is tax free.


– A golfer winning a prize entering a competition is clearly taxable
– the Nobel Peace prize award is non taxable
– if I enter an art competition and win a prize it is non taxable on me as art is a hobby

In essence each recipient of the Whicker Prize has to determine for themselves whether it is taxable or not as it depends on their own circumstances, in essence is audio documentary making a pastime or their recognised profession?

Please note that the above only applies to the law of England and Wales. The general principles tend to be the same in most other countries, but you do need to check and should take advice from a qualified accountant. Here’s a useful summary we’ve turned up which was put together by the Arts Council For Britain:  https://www.artbusinessinfo.com/tax-prize-money.html

Can my producer co-present my pitch at Sheffield DocFest?

As the Film & TV Funding Award is an award for emerging directors, only the Director and/or Co-Directors will be invited to Sheffield DocFest to pitch their project on stage. The Whickers are not responsible for covering travel costs or expenses for any producers connected to our shortlisted projects.

Have a question that hasn’t been answered above? Contact us at info@whickerawards.com

Film and TV Funding Award Finalists 2023

Read More

Film and TV Funding Award Winners 2023

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Previous Winners

See all the previous winners of this award.

Read More

Other Funding Resources

The Whickers remains committed to enabling filmmakers and allowing great documentary ideas to flourish.

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Jane Mote

Consultant Editor

Jane is a journalist, storyteller, TV executive, and a champion for the power and accessibility of documentary. As Consultant Editor for documentary foundation The Whickers, she nurtures and supports new audio and film documentary-makers who share a curiosity for the world. She has helped develop filmmakers at Docs by the Sea (Bali), MyDocs (Malaysia), AND – Asian Network of Documentary (Busan) – as well as leading documentary training in Uganda and for the BFI London. The former UK MD of Al Gore’s documentary channel Current, and Executive Editor at BBC London, Jane has also worked for Discovery, Turner, BBC Worldwide, UKTV and the Africa channel. She is also Director of UK-based beechtobeach ltd

Harriet Armston-Clarke

Harriet Armston-Clarke is Division Head at TVF International, the world’s leading independent distributor of documentary and factual programming. TVF International’s catalogue encompasses everything from factual entertainment and lifestyle series to exceptional award-winning documentaries, representing some of the most innovative and creative content makers from across the globe.

Mak CK

Mak CK has filmed in 30 countries across 5 continents directing documentaries for international broadcasters including National Geographic, Discovery and Channel NewsAsia/CNA. When he is not directing, Mak works with filmmakers across Asia as a series producer for CNA.

Alongside his TV portfolio, he has directed and produced 3 feature-length documentary films, The World’s Most Fashionable Prison (2012), Little People Big Dreams (2014) and One Taxi Ride (2019), which have screened and won awards at over 60 film festivals including the biggest of their kind in North America, UK, Scandinavia and Latin America. Mak is currently working on his next film, Buying Happiness, documenting his over 2-decade-long relationship with orphans he met while volunteering in Tanzania.

Patrick Hurley

Patrick runs Sheffield Doc/Fest’s international Marketplace connecting filmmakers with industry Decision Makers to get new documentaries made and seen. He also oversees the Festival’s All Year talent development programmes. Formerly Distribution Manager at Dogwoof from 2012-16, Patrick has worked closely with filmmakers, producers and partners on a diverse slate of over 100 documentary releases including The Act of Killing, Blackfish, Cartel Land, Concerning Violence, The Confession, Dior and I, Dreamcatcher, Leviathan, The Look of Silence, Planet of Snail, Speed Sisters, Ken Loach’s The Spirit of ‘45 and Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next. Prior to working on documentaries, Patrick studied Economics and subsequently taught Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney.

Emma Loach

Emma Loach joined the BBC’s documentary commissioning team in January 2017 and commissions for BBC One, Two, Three and Four.

Before joining the BBC, Loach was an executive producer, working for Dragonfly and Rare Day. Her credits for the BBC include the series Ambulance and A World Without Downs Syndrome?, and for C4 include the series The Trial, Children’s Hospital, and Big Ballet and A Killing In My Family, Ian Brady: Endgames of a Psychopath and The Murder Workers.

Seyi Rhodes

Seyi Rhodes is a British television presenter and investigative journalist. He has worked for the BBC, Channel 4 Television, Five Television and Current TV. From 2008, he has been the in-vision presenter and reporter for Channel 4’s Unreported World documentary series, produced by Quicksilver Media.

Klara Grunning

Klara Grunning is an Emmy Award-winning production and distribution consultant and executive producer for film, TV and cross media worldwide. She is currently Documentary Commissioner at the Swedish Film Institute, and before that worked five years as the commissioning editor for documentary feature and short films at the Royal Danish Film Institute, where she supported award-winning films such as ‘Concerning Violence’ and ‘The Swedish Theory of Love’. Previously she worked as a Commissioner and Supervising Producer at ITVS in San Francisco. She is Chairperson of The Why Foundation and serves on the executive committee for the European Documentary Network (EDN).



Lucila Moctezuma

As Director of Programs at Chicken & Egg Pictures, Lucila oversees the planning and implementation of the organisation’s programs in support of women nonfiction filmmakers. Originally from Mexico City, Lucila has collaborated with New York’s independent film community since 1996. Prior to joining Chicken & Egg Pictures, she was Executive Producing Director at the internationally renowned UnionDocs, Center for Documentary Art, in Brooklyn. Formerly, she was Manager of the Production Assistance Program at Women Make Movies, a program that provides support to women filmmakers in the development of their projects. She was Director of the Media Arts Fellowships for the Rockefeller Foundation, a highly prestigious program that supported media artists in the U.S. and Latin America, and she is Founder and was Coordinator of the TFI Latin America Media Arts Fund for the Tribeca Film Institute. Lucila is in the documentary selection committee of the Morelia International Film Festival in Mexico, and sits on the founding Executive Board of Cine Qua Non Lab, a residency for international filmmakers based in Michoacán, Mexico; she was Vice President of the Board of Trustees of The Flaherty and was the U.S. Delegate for the Huesca International Film Festival in Spain. Her work as Associate Producer includes the documentary series The New Americans for Kartemquin Films, and Shocking and Awful for Deep Dish TV, which was part of the 2006 Whitney Biennial. Lucila holds a degree in Philosophy at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, where she taught until 1996.

Mandy Chang

Mandy is the Commissioning Editor of Storyville, the BBC’s pioneering global feature documentary strand. It showcases the world’s best documentaries – dealing with big issues of our time and with stories that resonate universally. For over 20 years, Storyville has aired acclaimed films such as: India’s Daughter, City of Ghosts, Blackfish, Death on the Staircase, OJ: Made in America, Notes on Blindness and Man on Wire. Many of these films have won Oscar, Grierson, Emmy, Peabody and other prestigious awards. Mandy is from a filmmaking background and herself has brought award winning films to public television viewers, both as a commissioner (at ABC Arts) and filmmaker. During her time at Storyville Mandy has overseen and delivered to the BBC series such as The Fourth Estate and Why Slavery, as well as single films, Under the Wire, Last Men in Aleppo, The Death of Ratko Mladic, Trophy, A Northern Soul and The Cleaners, which premiered at Sundance and won the Prix Europa. She is a passionate advocate of public service broadcasting with its remit to support independent, diverse and creatively authored storytelling for audiences and to nurture new talent in a culture dominated by commercial imperatives.

Oli Harbottle

Oli Harbottle has been at Dogwoof since 2006, and was part of the original team who made the decision to specialise in documentaries the following year. As Head of Distribution and Acquisitions, he is responsible for acquisitions and overseeing all film releases, which in recent years have included successes such as The Act of Killing, Blackfish, The Look of Silence, Cartel Land, Weiner, Life, Animated, Three Identical Strangers, Free Solo, and Apollo 11. Oli is now also actively involved in the sourcing of projects for Dogwoof’s new production fund and recent executive producer credits include MaidenPlaying With Sharks: The Valerie Taylor Story and The Lost Leonardo.

Kate Townsend

Kate Townsend commissions original documentaries out of the UK for the global streaming platform Netflix. Kate has worked across titles such as Fyre, The Devil Next Door, Tell Me Who I Am, Don’t F**k With Cats, Tiger King and American Murder. Prior to Netflix, Kate was Commissioning Editor of the BBC’s Storyville. 



Father Christmas is asleep.

Gary Byung-Seok Kam

Gary Byung-Seok Kam is the first ever Korean documentary producer nominated for an Academy Award. He is committed to crafting compelling stories and supporting independent documentary makers. His films in release include Planet of Snail (2011, director Seung-jun YI), the first Asian documentary that won Best Feature-Length Documentary at the Int’l Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), the OSCAR®-nominated In the Absence (2018), Shadow Flowers (2019) and Crossing Beyond, the official Olympic film for the 2018 Pyeong Chang Winter Olympics.He has served as a tutor and juror at various international documentary forum and festivals. Gary is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science.

Salma Abdalla

Salma Abdalla is the CEO of Autlook Films in Vienna, one of the leading sales agents for feature documentaries, hybrids and doc series. Autlook offers a full spectrum of in-house customised distribution, sales and festival strategies that help maximise revenues, audience engagement that fosters filmmaker’s careers and an endless passion for the art of documentaries.

They are currently representing: Writing With Fire by Rintu Thomas & Sushmit Ghosh (Sundance 2021 awarded), All Light Everywhere by Theo Anthony (Sundance 2021 awarded), The Painter and the Thief by Benjamin Ree (93rd OSCARS® shortlist), For Sama by Waad Al Kateab & Edward Watts, (Golden Eyes Best documentary Cannes 2019 + 47 awards, Emmy® Awarded, 92nd OSCARS® nominee), Acasa, My Home by Radu Ciorniciuc (Sundance 2020 awarded) and Of Father and Sons by Talal Derki (91st OSCARS® nominee).

Raul Niño Zambrano

Raul Niño Zambrano is the Acting Creative Director and Head of Film Programmes at Sheffield DocFest. He was previously a Senior Programmer at IDFA where he started as a programmer in 2008. During his tenure at IDFA, Raul conducted a ground-breaking study on the position of women within the documentary world (The Female Gaze, 2014) and initiated the IDFA Queer Day (2013, ongoing). In addition to being a lead programmer on the overall selection, he curated such programmes as Emerging Voices from Southeast Asia and Cinema do Brasil. He has participated in many international festivals as a juror (Hot Docs, DocPoint, Guanajuato International Film Festival) and as an expert/tutor (DocMontevideo, FESPACO, If/Then Shorts Global Pitch, DocNet Southeast Asia, Guadalajara Doculab).

Jo Lapping

Jo Lapping is Head of Factual Acquisitions, BBC. She has worked with Storyville, the BBC’s international documentary strand, developing, commissioning and producing documentary films since its launch in 1997. Jo acquires both documentary films and factual programming, working closely alongside the Commissioning Editor at Storyville to expand the range of feature documentaries available to audiences across BBC channels and BBC iPlayer.

Olivier Tournaud

Olivier Tournaud is the Managing Director of Cinephil, an international sales and advisory firm with a strong reputation for securing international distribution and financing for documentaries from around the world on behalf of producers and directors. After completing a Masters of Law at The University of Lyon, he joined Europa Cinemas’ headquarters in Paris. Olivier was then appointed as the Audiovisual Attaché at the French Embassy in Tel Aviv. There he initiated new projects such as the Israeli-French TV series “Forum”. He later joined Cinephil in 2016 as Head of Sales. Recent titles include “Red Herring” by Kit Vincent, “A House Made of Splinters” by Simon Lereng Wilmont, “Songs of Earth” by Margreth Olin, ” Total Trust” by Jialing Zhang, “Flee” by Jonas Poher Rasmussen.

Keisha Knight

Keisha Knight is the Director of Funds at the International Documentary Association (IDA). In this capacity Keisha oversees a portfolio of IDA’s granting programs including IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund,  Logan Elevate Grants, Nonfiction Access Initiative and the Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund among other granting programs. Keisha is an arts administrator, distributor, programmer, and educator who is passionate about helping to create and sustain robust and equitable media ecosystems.

Sam Soko

Sam Soko is a documentary filmmaker based in Nairobi, Kenya. With his captivating approach to socio-political storytelling, he has developed content and collaborated with firebrand artists worldwide. His work including “Softie” and “Free Money” has been showcased in many festivals, including Sundance, Berlin, and the Toronto international film festival. Soko has won many awards and received Emmy, Peabody, and PGA nominations for his work. He is an outspoken defender of freedom of expression and has participated in global conversations on making media matter when the world is on fire. Soko is also co-founder of LBx Africa, a Kenyan production company that works with local and international filmmakers to bring uniquely African perspectives to global audiences.

Lucy Taylor

Lucy Taylor is an investigative environment journalist and the co-creator of the narrative BBC podcast Buried, described by The Guardian as “one of the most significant releases of the year”. She has previously lived and worked in Tanzania and Russia and her stories across the world have sparked UN investigations, police inquiries and become viral hits.