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Open Call for Emerging Filmmakers

BACKGROUND 

To further amplify the voices of emerging and diverse/BIPOC content creators across public media, PBS has issued an open call for proposals to support long and short form documentaries produced and created by diverse/BIPOC filmmakers that explore a broad range and collection of experiences, perspectives, and points of view. Proposals may be submitted across a range of genres/themes that resonate with a U.S. audience, including (but not limited to) personal history, arts, culture, science, and democracy/civics. 

Originality, creativity, engaging storytelling, and an ability to reach the intended audience are encouraged. We welcome innovative approaches and invite you to include animation, found footage, or personal audio/visual material. 

Projects must be in the production stage or near completion and are subject to PBS editorial criteria. All submissions will be reviewed by a group of editorial executives, public media professionals, and filmmakers. Funding recipients will be selected based on editorial merit. PBS will make the final determination on the specific funding amount based on production status of each project. 

Projects receiving PBS funding will be eligible for distribution across select PBS platforms (linear or digital), which will be determined at PBS’s discretion. 

 

FUNDING CATEGORIES 

Broadcast Long Form (30, 60, or 90 minutes): Projects submitted in this category for Production or Completion Funding may be eligible for up to $50,000. 

Digital Short Form (8-25 minutes): Projects submitted in this category for Production or Completion Funding may be eligible for up to $15,000. 

 

PBS POLICIES 

Films selected must be produced and delivered in accordance with all applicable PBS policies, including the PBS Editorial Standards & Practices; the PBS Funding Standards & Practices; the PBS Producer’s Handbook; and the PBS Technical Operating Specifications. All four of these guides can be found here

 

DELIVERABLES & TERM 

If selected, in addition to adhering to PBS policies, filmmakers will be required to provide contractual deliverables including, but not limited to, a review cut, production stills, description, production credits, program underwriters, program master, audio splits, and a range of promotional assets. The exact deliverables required will be dependent on format of project and distribution platform determined upon selection. 

 

HOW TO SUBMIT 

You must download and complete the application. Your submission must also include the following: 

 

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS 

To be eligible, applicants must meet the following criteria: 

  • The filmmaker or production entity must retain copyright and have the ability to clear the project for all PBS platforms.
  • Projects may have appeared at film festivals or on broadcast or digital platforms, but the filmmaker must currently hold the copyright or have the ability to grant project rights to PBS.
  • The filmmaker or production entity must have artistic, budgetary, and editorial control over the proposed project.
  • Applicants must be at least 18 years of age at time of film submission.
  • Applicants must be authorized to work in the United States.
  • Applications should include link(s) to work sample(s) in the form of a sizzle reel, teaser video, or selects from the project.
  • Applicants should have previous storytelling experience through a visual medium.

 

Projects are NOT eligible if: 

  • They are unable to comply with PBS Editorial Standards & Practices; PBS Funding Standards & Practices; the PBS Handbook; and the PBS Technical Operating Specifications.
  • They do not, at a minimum, have domestic television rights available.
  • They are intended solely for theatrical release or are commercial in nature.
  • The projects or production entities are foreign based, owned, or controlled.
  • The projects are promotional in nature.

 

NOTIFICATIONS 

PBS will only contact applicants by email if their project has been selected. PBS cannot offer feedback on submissions. 

Funding recipients will be announced in Fall 2021. 

 

SUBMISSIONS & QUESTIONS 

Submissions and questions can be directed to PBSOpenCall@pbs.org

 

DEADLINE 

Friday, April 23, at 5 PM ET

Open Call for Emerging Filmmakers FAQ


 Can I submit more than one project?

Yes, you may submit more than one project, but you will need to complete an individual application and all attachments for each project.  We would also ask that you submit each project separately according to the requirements.


Can I submit a project in a language other than English?

Yes, you may submit a project in a different language.  However, it should contain subtitles and be accompanied by a script during delivery.


Can I partner with a PBS station?

Yes, you are welcome to partner with a PBS station when submitting a project.  However, please note that you cannot be hired by the station or your project cannot be commissioned by the station as a means of submitting.


Will you accept drama or fiction submissions?

While we know there are many worthy fiction projects, this call is limited to short-form and long-form, non-fiction, documentary submissions.  We are not considering dramas or narrative fiction works for this open call.


Can I submit projects geared towards children or young adults?

While we recognize the importance of stories geared towards young people, the goal of this Open Call is to support emerging filmmakers with short-form and long-form non-fiction works that will resonate with adult audiences.


Can I submit my project even if I don’t need production or completion funding?

Yes, you are welcome to submit even if you do not need funding.  We’d ask that you indicate your funding status on your application.  Please note that, as with all applications, you will need to provide a list of funders.


Can I apply even if my film has appeared at festivals or on other platforms?

Projects may have appeared at film festivals or on broadcast or digital platforms, but the filmmaker must currently hold the copyright or have the ability to grant project rights to PBS.


If my project is not accepted, will I receive feedback from PBS?

Unfortunately, PBS is not able to offer feedback on submissions.