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ITVS open call for documentary funding still open until August 11th

Jul 28, 2023 | Filmmaking, Indie Film

ITVS funding

On the highest peak of the Andean Mountains, a young documentary filmmaker climbs sweated and fatigued through a wondrous cloud forest onto a snow-sprinkled crest. Fluttering from a small flag is a piece of paper. The filmmaker stumbles forth:

“I got it!” They rip the $350,000 check from the flag. “I got funding!”

It doesn’t have to be that difficult.

The ITVS (Independent Television Service) has an open call for documentary filmmakers to acquire funding of up to $350,000 to co-produce their standalone broadcast-length nonfiction project with public media. The funding window is open until 11:59 p.m. on August 11th.

From the New Orleans Film Society:

“The documentary can be on any subject, viewpoint or style as long as it is in active production already, as evidenced via a ten to fifteen-minute work-in-progress sample.”

According to ITVS, they have already funded 579 films through their open-call submissions, and continue to seek out filmmakers willing to be courageous with their art. Their criteria align with the approach of so many filmmakers, and that is to seek out stories that challenge an artist deeply on a human level. From ITVS:

We’re looking for exceptional storytelling that’s in line with our mission: stories that take risks, tackle important issues, address the needs of underserved audiences, and are seldom seen in public media. We know how hard you’ve worked on your project, and we’ll partner with you to help you finish it, then distribute it on public television.

The opportunity is not a pure grant – it is a co-production agreement that gives ITVS streaming rights to help you finish your film. ITVS recommends two to four weeks to complete the application but honestly, it’s not as daunting as it sounds with a fully funded film on the line. The application includes:

  • A two- to seven-page proposal
  • A video file work sample of at least ten minutes and up to fifteen minutes, or you can submit a full rough cut
  • A complete resume with short bios of all crew

So, yeah – it takes some effort on a truncated timetable, but you’re not climbing in the Andes. Go get that public media money.

The ITVS is a funding branch under the umbrella of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with the mission to develop engaging and resonant stories for public media. Some of their recent featured films include American Historia directed by Ben DeJesus, where John Leguizamo explores the contributions of Latinx people to American history, and Sansón and Me directed by Rodrigo Reyes, about a man named Sansón’s experience with life at Pelican Bay State Prison.

The complete ITVS open call parameters and application can be found here on the ITVS website.

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