Short-Form Open Call

Short-Form Open Call offers development and co-production funding to help you complete your short nonfiction film or series for distribution on public media's web-based platforms.

Reopens 2024

The Application Process


We’re looking for exceptional non-fiction stories that spark dialogue and engage a young and diverse audience on public media’s web-based platforms. Stories of any subject will be considered, though we have a special interest in the following topics:

  • Criminal Justice Reform

  • Disability

  • Health

  • Rural America

  • Social Justice

Short-Form Open Call is only open to standalone documentary shorts and/or web series. These programs will be distributed online via platforms such as YouTube or the PBS Video app. For broadcast length nonfiction projects, please see Open Call or Diversity Development Fund.
Short-Form Open Call is not a grant. Successful applicants will receive funding in the form of either a development or production agreement that licenses ITVS certain rights in your project during the term of the contract.

Programs funded by Short-Form Open Call include: 

The History of White People In America

Driver Radio: Jamaica

Blind Love

American Nomads

When I’m Her

The Last Trap Family

Who We Fund

Short Documentary Filmmakers
We provide co-production support and up to $40,000 to complete production for non-fiction films up to 25 minutes in length. We accept film proposals for nonfiction shorts in pre-production and mid-production.

Non-Fiction Short Series Creators
ITVS Short-Form Open Call supports series creators in one of two ways:

  • For projects in R&D that have not yet begun principal production, we provide development support and funding up to $25,000 to help you take your original series idea to the pilot stage. ITVS will work with you to develop the story and determine the length and number of episodes. 

  • For projects in early to mid-production, we provide production support and funding to help complete your series in progress. The amount of ITVS’ funding contribution may vary based on the project.


You are eligible to apply if you are:

  • The owner of the copyright of your production and maintain editorial control of the story.

  • Not employed as a producer or director by a broadcast entity or film studio.

  • Someone with previous web video, television, or film production experience in a principal role: director, co-director, producer, co-producer.

  • Applying to only this ITVS funding initiative at this time – we won’t review projects already under consideration for other ITVS funding.

  • Not currently a student at any college or university. 

  • A citizen or legal resident of the U.S. or its external territories age 18 or older.

You are not eligible to apply if you are:

  • A former employee who has worked for ITVS within the past 12 months.

A project is ineligible if:

  • It is a narrative fiction project.

  • It is a completed series or one-off short either looking for distribution or that has previously been broadcast or distributed publicly (including theatrical, festivals, educational, community screenings, subscription video-on-demand, or other web-based platforms).

  • It is a new season for an already existing series.

  • It is a standard broadcast or feature-length documentary (TRT longer than 25 minutes).

  • It is a series in which episodes are standard broadcast length (TRT longer than 25 minutes).
  • It is at an advanced stage (e.g. at fine cut through festival submission cut).

  • It is a program intended for, or already committed to, a commercial distributor.

What to Expect

The Review Process
After you submit your application, you will receive notification of your status within 16 weeks. If you are among the group of finalists, you may be asked to submit additional materials about your project.

Production and Distribution
You’ll own the copyright and maintain creative, editorial, and financial control of your project.
All series or shorts in development are reviewed for possible production funding and support after the pilot or proof-of-concept is produced. Receiving development funding from Short-Form Open Call isn’t a guarantee that you will receive production funding from ITVS. 

If a short documentary film or series is selected for production funding, ITVS will provide co-production and editorial support to help complete the project. ITVS will then review the completed series or short film and, if approved, will facilitate its distribution on web-based platforms (YouTube, Facebook,, etc.) in collaboration with public media partners such as PBS’s Independent Lens, PBS Digital Studios, or WORLD Channel, among others.