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 filmmakers to submit their unfinished FEATURE-length (70 + minutes) documentary projects currently in early to late stages of production. Complete, in-depth requisite guidelines are within application 'Rules & Terms'.

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 $45,000 Audience Award and a jury of industry professionals will select the winner of the $40,000 Jury Award. An additional $5,000 award will go to each of 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.


To be eligible, unfinished projects must be in early to late stages of production with a completed intended duration of 70 minutes or more, and 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 office in North America -- or if the project is an international co-production with one partner based in a country within North America. DOCPITCH is not a finishing or marketing fund, please ensure projected completion date is at least six months beyond May 2024.
*All materials must be submitted via FilmFreeway. No emails will be accepted.

Applicants must be over the age of 18, own the copyright and maintain editorial control of a project with an intended duration of 70 minutes or longer, and submit all project elements through the FilmFreeway DocPitch project page as listed below by the submission deadline. DOCPITCH does not fund student films, docuseries, fiction projects, or projects that are completed or in final stages of post-production.

Applicant must first register and create a personal project page of their DOCPITCH submission on FilmFreeway. All mandatory elements are listed below in the order prompted by FilmFreeway. Emails will not be accepted. Submissions deemed Incomplete will be ineligible and may automatically be disqualified without notice or refund of submission fees.


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 3 paragraphs)
Why is this topic important, timely, or relevant? Which DocLands programming strand (The Great Outdoors, Art of Impact, Wonderlands) do you think your film would best be suited? (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 throughout submission process, and for questions and additional information if required.

3. KEY CREATIVE PERSONNEL (2 paragraphs/bio)
Provide credits and brief bios for attached key personnel.
(Paste under 'Prior Credits' for each crew member. Add additional ‘Persons’ and ‘Credit Sections’ as required. Except Director - they will be added separately under 'Director Headshot & Biography'.)

• 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 samples longer than 15 minutes in duration, film rough cuts or completed films.
*Please note: if your project is chosen, you will have additional time before the DocPitch event itself to provide a FINAL 3-5' trailer.

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

• ADD DIRECTOR HEADSHOT (high resolution) & BIOGRAPHY (up to 2 paragraphs)

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?

What is your connection and access to the story? Why are you the best filmmaker(s) to tell this story? What unique lens and/or insights 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 2 paragraphs + timeline table)
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 IN LATE APRIL 2024. 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 3 paragraphs)
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 do hope your plan includes submitting to DocLands.

• AWARD IMPACT (one paragraph)
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 (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.) Please note current funding gap.

** The five (5) shortlisted filmmakers selected for DocPitch will be notified by February 19, 2024. These shortlisted filmmakers will be the ONLY FILMMAKERS required to submit the FINAL materials listed below no later than April 8, 2024:

- 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 in May 2024 during DocLands Documentary Film Festival.