Presented by DocLands Documentary Film Festival in May, under the umbrella of the California Film Institute (CAFILM), DOCPITCH is an invitation for North American based (further info below in Rules & Terms) filmmakers to submit their unfinished FEATURE-length (70 + minutes) documentary projects currently in early to later stages of development/production.

A jury will select five (5) filmmaking teams with feature-length documentary projects to present a verbal pitch and a three- to five-minute trailer to an audience, comprised of invited funders, organization representatives, distributors, broadcasters, and the general public who will consider the projects, and provide one vote per person for their favored project for the Audience Award, while a jury of industry professionals will select the winner of the Jury Award.

DocLands film slate of recently completed films is non-competitive and non-juried, with one overall Audience Choice Award. Dedicated to building connections and partnerships to invigorate the business and art of nonfiction filmmaking, DocLands aims to build an active, inclusive, and fully supportive community around documentary film through public screenings, engaged conversations, and grassroots networking and pitching events. It showcases documentary film with a diversity of content, within three main programming sections: Art of Impact, The Great Outdoors, and WonderLands.

With a total of $100,000 to be awarded to five projects, viewers will be invited to cast one vote per person for their favored project to win the Audience Award; and a jury of industry professionals will select the winner of the Jury Award. Additional awards will go to the remaining three projects.

Award winners cannot assign or transfer an award to another person. Award recipients receiving cash awards are solely responsible for payment of all applicable local, state, and federal taxes. Void where prohibited.

With a total of $100,000 to be awarded to five projects, viewers will be invited to cast one vote per person for their favored project to win the $45,000 Audience Award. The jury of industry professionals will select the winner of the $40,000 Jury Award. Additional $5,000 awards will go to the remaining three projects.

To be eligible, unfinished projects must originate within North America whereas the offices of at least one of the production companies and/or key creative crew (producer or director) by whom the film will be made has an address in North America -- or if the project is an international co-production with one partner based in a country within North America. Project completion date must be expected after May 2023.

Applicants must submit all the following project elements/information as requested below through the FilmFreeway DocPitch project page as explained below as per each element before the deadline. Elements to be included are listed below in the order that FilmFreeway requests the information and elements when a filmmaker registers and creates their personal project page. Emails will not be accepted. Submissions deemed Incomplete will be ineligible and thereby disqualified without refund of submission fees.
The list below includes elements from the Nonfiction Core Application Proposal Checklist (V.2022) that are applicable to DocPitch@DocLands.


1. LOGLINE (up to 50 words)
Brief summary of the project that captures the most important elements -- setting, subjects, central conflict, or concerns. (Label and include at the top of the Brief Synopsis field.)

1. STORY, CONCEPT SUMMARY or SYNOPSIS (up to 500 words)
Why is this topic important, timely, or relevant? Detail topics, issues, themes, challenges, or questions your project will cover. (Label and include below the Logline in the Brief Synopsis field.)

IF you have any social media channels set up, please include URLs.
(Insert URLS in appropriate fields listed.)

Include name and contacts of the person who is to be notified for additional information and notification.

3. KEY CREATIVE PERSONNEL (Up to 200 words/bio)
Provide credits and brief bios and relevant expertise for your project for attached key personnel.
(Add previous credits and paste brief bios for each crew member under Prior Credits. Add additional ‘Persons’ and ‘Credit Sections’ as required. Except Director - they will be added separately below.)

• Project Type
• Runtime
• Completion Date (anticipated)
• Production Budget (total US$)
• Country(s) of Origin
• Country(s) of Filming
• Language
• Shooting Format, etc.

5. Screenings & Distribution - if relevant.
ie: another pitching forum winner, etc. and if there is some form of distribution already secured.

WHEN YOU 'SAVE PROJECT', you will be taken to 'VIEW PROJECT’ and will be asked to:
• ADD ONLINE SCREENER (3-5 minute duration preferred, but no longer than 15 minutes.)
Add an initial trailer or teaser here. Please do not include longer samples or rough cuts.
*Please note: if your project is chosen, you will have additional time before DocPitch to provide a FINAL 3-5' trailer.

• STILLS PHOTOS (Up to six)
If available, please include stills that can be used for DocLands and CAFILM public website and social platforms, press and promotional purposes.


How are you going to tell this story? Describe your creative vision for the project. What are the visual and audio elements that will bring your film to life? How will you enhance the experience of the viewer? Who has creative control?

What is your connection and access to the story? Why are you the best filmmaker(s) to tell this story? What unique lens, insights, or bias do you bring to the story? If relevant, what are your processes of accountability, consent, transparency, feedback, etc - steps being taken to ensure participants/subjects featured have agency in the filmmaking process, from pre-production through distribution? (Label and include with above Director/Filmmakers Statement.)

If available, please include relevant information.

• FILES & ATTACHMENTS - Please attach all documents listed below as attachments.

• PROJECT STAGE & TIMELINE (up to 500 words + timeline)
Explain the current status of the project. Outline the projected production timeline from the project's current state to the anticipated completion date. PLEASE HIGHLIGHT THE STAGE YOU EXPECT YOUR PROJECT TO BE AT AS IN LATE APRIL 2023. Please detail major project activities and anticipated post-production leading up to your completion date. If you have applied to this initiative previously, please share how the project has progressed. (Label and attach document.)

• FUNDRAISING/STRATEGY (up to 200 words)
Describe the overall fundraising strategy for the film. (Label and attach as Fundraising/Strategy document.)

Characterize the intended distribution life for your film. Specify plans for festival, theatrical, and/or community screenings, securing broadcast and/or distribution.
(Label and include in Fundraising/Strategy.) Please note that DocLands Documentary Film Festival presents this funding opportunity and although we don't demand your premiere screening, we hope your plan includes submitting to DocLands.

• AWARD IMPACT (up to 200 words)
Should you receive an award, describe how any granted funds would be spent and how it would help you move forward with your project. (Label and include in Fundraising/Strategy.)

Please provide a US dollar breakdown of your project's projected expenses, from development through release, including a budget total. Provide budget notes for any areas that may be out of the ordinary or require explanation.
(Label and include in Fundraising/Strategy.)

• FUNDING TO DATE (up to 200 words OR illustrated as a table)
Include all sources and amounts raised to date. Distinguish between potential sources and secured amounts. List other funding under consideration and whether to be applied or pending. (Label and include in Fundraising/Strategy.)

** The five (5) shortlisted filmmakers selected for DocPitch will be notified by February 17, 2023 and will be the only filmmakers required to submit the FINAL materials listed below no later than April 3, 2023:

- Final budget that states your current funding gap.
- Video pitch presentation AND a final 3-5 minute trailer -- these elements can be submitted separately or edited together. Video pitch and trailer whether edited together or submitted separately, MUST NOT exceed 10 minutes in total duration.

By submitting your Project for consideration, you grant the California Film Institute permission to virtually screen and display select non-confidential submitted materials from your work-in-progress online if accepted. Applicants are solely responsible for obtaining all necessary rights and permissions for third-party materials included within their submitted Project, including but not limited to music, trademarks, logos, copyrights, and other intellectual property rights. The California Film Institute expressly disavows any responsibility for, and will not be held responsible for, any unauthorized inclusion of any trademarked content or materials within or relating to the submitted Project. Signatory also gives CAFILM permission to use stills and excerpts from Project for promotional purposes if required.

**IMPORTANT: If you are unable to agree to or commit to any of the above, or if you fail to include all elements requested for your submission, your project may be disqualified and thereby not eligible to be considered for DocPitch. Projects selected will also be disqualified if filmmakers fail to comply with deadlines. Because of the administrative process and tight timeline, all submissions must be complete by the deadline. Fee or deadline waivers will not be offered.

DocPitch will take place May 11-14 , 2023 during DocLands Documentary Film Festival.