Black Public Media’s annual Open Call invites proposals that celebrate the complexity of the Black experience.
Each year, BPM issues an open call for feature-length documentaries and shorts (nonfiction or scripted) that are currently in research and development, pre-production, production or post-production. All projects should be suitable for public media distribution. The focus of our 2023 Open Call is climate stories.
For 2023, we sought traditional media projects that present the voice of the Black community as it relates to our changing environment. A wide range of creative approaches were invited. We prefer submissions that present a compelling story, show a clear understanding of the subject, and detail an original and creative stylistic approach designed to illuminate the issues, spark conversation and point to equitable solutions for the current crises.
The Open Call submission portal is now closed. Awards will be announced December 2023.
NOTE: BPM funding awards are licensing agreements for public media distribution.
This year we hosted three, virtual information sessions to help potential applicants learn more about the open call theme and the submission process. Click below to a recording of one of the sessions:
Our deadlines are strict. We highly recommend that applicants in plenty of time and “save” to complete their submissions over time. As soon as the application window closes, a panel of media professionals across the industry will evaluate the proposals in a two-tier review process. The application portal is now closed.
Black Public Media enlists the support of an independent review panel of media professionals across the industry. The panel reviews the proposals in a two-tier review process. Applicants will be notified as their project advances to the next stage. Below are some of the guidelines used by the panel:
Project Idea and Story
Does the treatment provide a clear description of the narrative arc and filmic approach? Does the proposal express a deep and clear understanding of the subject matter? Is/Are the theme(s) well developed? Are the characters or subjects well drawn? Is there an original and creative approach to the subject matter in terms of form, structure and content?
We seek projects that can be completed within 18 months of receiving funds. Has the applicant presented a project idea and production timeline that is realistic?
Does the production team have the experience necessary to complete the proposed project?
Are one or more key creative positions (producer, director, writer, editor) held by people of color?
Can a quality program be completed with the proposed project budget? Does it match the needs of the project, (i.e., production design, locations, archival, etc.)? Is there evidence of confirmed or pending funds and/or clear and concrete fundraising plan? Is it realistic? Does the fundraising plan complement the timeline for expected completion (18 months)?
Is there evidence of strong storytelling (i.e., the narrative arc is clear and compelling)? Does the work sample show sound interviewing techniques, compelling characters, and visual or audio aesthetics? Does the work sample effectively support the stated treatment and approach? If a past work has been submitted, is it an indicator of success for the proposed project?
Projects selected for funding will receive a BPM funding contract. The contract is not a grant but a licensing agreement in which BPM is granted exclusive or shared domestic public television distribution rights as well as the exclusive or shared right to package, schedule and promote the program through public broadcasting. BPM makes no expressed or implied commitment to financially support a project until an agreement is signed by both the applicant and BPM. As a condition of the funding contract, producers must agree to BPM’s standard terms and conditions, including the following:
Producers must comply with all equal employment opportunities and non-discrimination laws and policies, payola/plugola requirements and other applicable federal and state rules and regulations.
“Environmental racism and contamination of any community deprives [its] residents of the basic right to live in a clean, healthy and safe environment. This is a right that is inherent to all human beings, yet many are deprived due to their income, race, or ethnicity.” — Catherine Coleman Flowers, founder, Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice
BPM’s Climate Stories initiative is supported by the New York Community Trust Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and partnered by The Redford Center.