ITVS Open Call Frequently Asked Questions

November 12, 2020

Eligibility Questions:

Q: Does Open Call fund standalone documentaries and short web series?

A: No. Open Call only funds standalone documentaries.

Q: I do not have any funds secured to date, am I still eligible for funding?

A: Yes. You are eligible for Open Call funding regardless of whether you have previously secured funds. All proposals should include any pending funds and a fundraising strategy that details how you will raise the funds to complete the broadcast version of your project. This may include (and is not limited to) foundation grants, state and federal arts and humanities council grants, license agreements (pre-sales), individual donors, equity investors, crowdsource funding, and Producer Cash. 

Q: Do I need a fiscal sponsor? 

A:  No. You do not need a fiscal sponsor to apply to Open Call. 

Q: Can I reapply if my proposal has been declined in the past?

A:  Yes. You are welcome to re-apply to Open Call or other ITVS funding initiatives. If you are reapplying with a previously declined project, we do not recommend sending in the same materials from previous applications. 

Q: Can I apply with a project that has already exhibited publicly (i.e. film festival, community screening, etc)?

A: No.

Q. Are films outside of the U.S. eligible? 

A: Stories set internationally are eligible for ITVS funding. Please visit for more information about the various requirements of submission and our Open Call catalogue to learn about stories set internationally that we have funded.

Q.  Are U.S. citizens living outside of the U.S that are producing their own work using a non-U.S. production entity eligible?

A: Yes, however there are situations where applicants may not be eligible due to other circumstances. Please email ITVS if you are unsure of your eligibility.

Q: If a co-producer is a U.S. resident but the rest of the team are from overseas, is that sufficient?

A: This applies to the main applicant and if applicable, co-applicant or any entity that will be a signatory on the ITVS agreement. Please email ITVS if you are unsure of your eligibility.

Q: If the applicant has prior work experience as a director or producer, is it okay if the co-applicant does not?

A: Yes.

Q: Are first-time filmmakers eligible for ITVS funding?

A: Applicants must have previous film or television production experience in a principal role: director, co-director, producer, co-producer. First-time filmmakers with an experienced producer attached to the project can apply as applicant and co-applicant, with the understanding that both applicants would be signatories on the contract and responsible for delivery of the project.

Q: Can a broadcast entity or film studio serve as a co-applicant on a project?

A: No, the applicant(s) must be independent producers, not organizations such as film studios, universities, foundations, or nonprofit media organizations.

Q: Does ITVS provide grants for schools, film festivals or to other unrelated film projects? 

A: No, Open Call only funds single, long form documentaries for distribution to public television. ITVS does not provide funding for organizations or schools.

Q: I used to work for ITVS. Can I now apply for funding?

A: In order to address any conflict of interest concerns, any former employee has a waiting period of 12 months before they are eligible to apply to all ITVS funding initiatives as an applicant. 

ITVS Open Call Application Questions:

Q: Does ITVS accept the Documentary Core application? 

A: ITVS contributed to the development of the Documentary Core application, and has incorporated many of the elements into the Open Call application. However, as a public fund there are additional questions and production details required that are specific to co-production with ITVS. 

Q: Is there an available sample of the application?

A: No, however you can prepare for the application by referring to The Documentary Core Application Proposal Checklist.

Q. What is the preferred length for a work sample? Will you accept a trailer or sample scenes?

A. The work sample must have a total run time between 10 and 15 minutes. The work sample may include a trailer, sample scenes, or a work-in-progress, whatever best exhibits your story, characters, vision and approach to the subject. 

Q: At what stage should I submit a Rough Cut? 

A: If you have begun editing and have a rough cut, you are welcome to submit a rough cut in lieu of a shorter work sample. Please note we do not recommend sending in assembly cuts as it may be too early in your editing process. We also do not recommend submitting a fine cut of your film as you may be too far along to be considered for co-production funding. 

Q. Will you accept an application after the deadline?

A. No, in order to maintain a consistent and fair application process, ITVS will not accept applications after the deadline. 

Q: May I ask ITVS to review an element of my proposal before I apply? For example, a trailer, synopsis, or website?

A: No, in order to be fair and transparent, ITVS formally reviews materials as part of the Open Call evaluation process after they have been submitted for consideration.

Q: I am having trouble with the online application form. Can I submit by email or mail?

A: No, applications must be submitted through the online process. If you are experiencing difficulty using the online form please contact

Q: What if I have additional questions?

A: You may send an email query with specific questions to  Please understand that we cannot provide status updates. If ITVS needs additional information we will contact you during the review and decision process.

Q: Is it mandatory that my work sample be within 10 - 15 minutes?

A: All work samples must be no less than 10 minute and no more than 15 minutes. Any work samples that do not meet this requirement will make your application ineligible. 

Q: What are the requirements for the proposal treatment?

A: Please refer to The Documentary Core Application Proposal Checklist for the proposal treatment requirements. 

Q: Is there a submission fee to apply to Open Call?

A: No, there is no submission fee required to apply to any of ITVS's funding initiatives.

Post-Application Questions:

Q: How will I know if ITVS has received my proposal?

A: You will receive an email from the application portal and ITVS confirming receipt of your proposal.

Q. Can I provide project updates after my application is submitted?

A. Yes, you are welcome to email ITVS regarding a major funding update. Please bear in mind that any updated application materials will not be accepted after the application deadline

Q: When can Open Call applicants expect to hear a status update on their application?

A: Applicants will be notified if they will be advancing to phase 2 within 12 weeks after the application window closes. Those advancing to panel will be notified of final determinations 20 weeks after the application window closes. All applicants will be notified in writing via email of funding decisions.

Q: Will ITVS provide feedback if my project is not funded?

A: All projects that advance to Panel review will receive feedback. Projects that do not advance beyond the reader review may not receive feedback dependent on staff capacity. All decisions by ITVS regarding funding and the application process are final and are not subject to appeal. Click to read more.