Independent Lens is seeking submissions of completed or near completed programs for broadcast.
Independent Lens is a film festival in your living room. Since 2003, Independent Lens has presented more than 380 films to public television audiences. The Emmy and Peabody Award-winning series is broadcast on the PBS national schedule on Monday nights at 10pm. Independent Lens is the largest showcase for independent documentaries anywhere on U.S. television, premiering 22 new films each season. The series is curated jointly by ITVS and PBS.
Independent Lens films are often character driven stories, and are known for compelling storytelling, innovation, and diversity. Independent Lens welcomes individual expression and is committed to presenting diverse points of view, on topics suited for a national audience.
When selecting programs, Independent Lens considers a range of factors, including the quality of the filmmaking, the timeliness of the story, and audience appeal. Programs should offer a fresh perspective, especially if the topic has been explored on other PBS series.
Independent Lens seeks to present the U.S. television broadcast premiere, however we will consider a work of special merit that has had very limited television exposure (such as broadcast on local public TV station).
Independent Lens does not accept instructional films, performance pieces, docudramas, reenactments, and programs with content better suited for another PBS series (PBS’s Nature presents nature programs, PBS’s NOVA presents science programs, etc.).
If you have a question about eligibility, please email
Please make sure that your film meets the following eligibility requirements:
- Independent Lens accepts advanced rough cuts, fine cuts or completed films.
- Independent Lens accepts all styles of nonfiction film including POV, social issue, experimental, animation, etc.
- Independent Lens accepts submissions at any length, however there are standard television broadcast length requirements that may necessitate reediting.
- The majority of programs accepted will be scheduled in a “one-hour” time slot, with a total running time of 53:25 minutes. On occasion, Independent Lens, will broadcast in a “90-minute” time slot with a total running time of 83:25 minutes.
- Independent Lens accepts independently produced work solely authored by individuals.
- Submissions must have been produced in the last three (3) years. Independent Lens will consider exceptional works completed before this date only if they have achieved significant recognition.
- Independent Lens will pay a license fee that is negotiated relevant to market rates.
- Programs previously submitted and passed on by Independent Lens will not be reconsidered unless the producer has made substantial changes to at least 75% of the content in accordance with feedback from ITVS or PBS, or if the filmmaker has been invited to resubmit.
- All content must be cleared for broadcast on U.S. television.
- Sample reels, assemblies, and excerpts cannot be considered for broadcast, however Independent Lens is interested in discovering new projects and we urge you to submit your film to ITVS Open Call for production funding consideration. Information at itvs.org/funding/open-call
- Programs do not have to have Errors & Omissions (E&O) insurance in place when submitted, but the filmmaker will need to make arrangements to secure E&O insurance if the program is accepted.
- Programs must meet PBS and FCC broadcast standards, and PBS technical guidelines. PBS technical guidelines are available at pbs.org/producers/redbook
- Programs must comply with PBS editorial and funding standards. Information on PBS editorial and funding standards is available at pbs.org/producers/guidelines
Ready to begin? Submit your film for Independent Lens consideration.
All producers will be notified of Independent Lens acquisition decisions as soon as we have screened and fully evaluated your submission. Most filmmakers will receive a response from Independent Lens within three months from the day of submission, or as curating decisions are made.