BPM’s Open Call is our chance to celebrate the complexity of the Black experience through story.  We look forward to receiving proposals on a range of stories told in a variety of styles, platforms and perspectives that are underway. 

This year’s Open Call is for feature-length documentaries and shorts (nonfiction or scripted) that are currently in pre-production, production, or post-production and intended for public media distribution. Selected projects will receive production funding to advance the work. There are no limits on the subject area. However, we encourage work that will promote discourse and engage audiences around a critical social issue.

Up to three (3) proposals will receive awards ranging from $20,000 - $50,000 as well as an invitation to pitch for an additional award of up to $100,000 at PitchBLACK in April 2022. Please note that BPM funding awards are licensing agreements for public media distribution.


--The applicant must (a) be the project’s producer or director, (b) be a US citizen, (c) have a minimum of three years professional producing and/or directing experience, or have a senior producer attached to the project;

--Key creative personnel (producer, director, writer, or editor) must include a person of color;

--The proposed content must be either a  short (one-off or limited series)  or feature-length documentary for public media distribution;

--The applicant must hold artistic, budgetary and editorial control, and must own the copyright of the proposed project;

Projects or production entities that are foreign-based, owned or controlled are NOT eligible. Neither are industrial, promotional or student films.

Application Elements

Program Title
Logline: 1-3 Sentences
Program Type: broadcast documentary, nonfiction short, narrative short
Program Length
Amount of Request
Total Project Budget
What is your Funding Gap?


Story Summary/Synopsis: Approximately 1 to 2 pages
Topic Summary:  Approximately 1 to 2 pages
Artistic Approach: Approximately½ page
Project Stage & Timeline: Approximately 1 paragraph

Distribution and Marketing Strategy: Approximately 1 paragraph
Intended Audience:  Approximately 1 paragraph

BPM seeks to develop the talent of producers of color. Thus we seek projects in which a person of African descent or a person of color is in a key creative position.
Diversity of Key Creative Personnel
Bios of Key Creative Personnel: Approximately 1 paragraph/short bio

Fundraising Strategy: Approximately 1 paragraph
Funding to Date: Provide a list of all sources and amounts raised to date. Distinguish between potential/secured as well as applied/pending.
Grant Impact/Amount Requested: Approximately 1 paragraph. Should you be awarded funds, describe how any the money would be spent and how the amount requested would help you move forward with your project.
Suggested Length:

Comprehensive Line Item Expense Budget

WE RECOMMEND THAT YOU SEND ONLY ONE SAMPLE. The Panel will review up to 10mins of your video sample.  Be sure to provide a link and password that is active through the entire review period.

Current Sample/Rough Cut -IF APPLICABLE - Describe the sample you are submitting for consideration. What should reviewers be looking for in your sample? Explain what is present or absent in the sample, and how it will differ as a finished film. How is it representative of the intended story, style, subject, or another aspect of the project? If you submitted a rough cut, what changes or additional material are planned?
Suggested Length: Approximately 1 paragraph


Director's Prior Work - IF APPLICABLE - Describe the sample you are submitting for consideration, including its narrative, aesthetic, or communication intentions. Discuss the relevance of the work to the current project, if any. If the current project is a departure from the prior work, how will this film differ?
Suggested Length: Approximately 1 paragraph

Pitch Deck: Optional
Letters of Support: Optional
If the project has been accepted for a PBS broadcast or webcast, please upload a scanned PDF copy of the letter indicating details.

Social Media Accounts: If applicable, please share website, IG, Twitter, Facebook handles for this project.


Review & Selection Process

A panel of media professionals across the industry will evaluate the proposals in a two-tier review process. Applicants will be notified as their project advances to the next stage.  Additional materials may be requested at this point.

Awards and the pitch invitation will be announced Feb/March 2022. PitchBLACK will be held in April 2022.


Rights & Releases

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:

• For broadcast projects, assignment to BPM of public television broadcast rights for four (4) years over national public television, off-air record rights, and internet streaming rights;

• For web projects only, assignment to BPM of streaming rights for three (3) years;

• Funding and/or Presentation credit to BPM and CPB;

• Net revenues must be shared with BPM from the exercise of subsidiary or ancillary rights over a fifteen (15) year period;

• Financial books and records related to the production must be maintained for three (3) years following the receipt of funds or net revenues by the producers.

Producers must comply with all equal employment opportunity and non-discrimination laws and policies, payola/plugola requirements and other applicable federal and state rules and regulations.

FAQ’s about the Open Call

What types of projects are eligible for the Open Call?

BPM is eager to diversify our pool with applicants working in a range of formats, styles, subject matter and genres.  In addition, we welcome proposals that target specific viewers such as children and teen audiences.

I’m not a U.S. citizen. Can I still apply?

At least one or more of the key production team members  (writer, director, producer) must be a U.S. citizen or green-card holder.

I am not African American or of African descent. Can I still apply?

At least one or more of the key production team members (writer, director, producer) must be of African descent or person of color.

Are international projects eligible?

Projects or production entities, which are foreign-based, owned or controlled will not be considered.

I’m working on several projects. Can I submit them all?

While a single producer or production team may submit multiple applications, each project must be submitted separately, and no more than one project from any producer or production team will ultimately receive support.

I have a finished film but I still need funding to pay off production expenses. Can I apply?

No, funds are only available for projects that are in pre-production, production, or post-production.

I don’t hold the copyright for my project. Can I apply?

Applicants must hold artistic, budgetary and editorial control and must own the copyright of the proposed project.

I already have a deal to stream my project online. Can I apply?

For awarded projects, BPM will hold exclusive broadcast premiere rights for 4 years on public television. Projects for which the domestic broadcast and/or streaming rights are not available will not be considered.

Are student projects eligible to apply?

Thesis projects or student films which are co- or solely-owned or copyrighted, or otherwise editorially or fiscally controlled by the school are not eligible.

Are industrial, children’s, promotional projects or impact campaigns eligible?

Industrial, promotional projects and impact campaigns are not eligible for funding.
Children's projects are supported.

Our public media organization is interested in helping employees with their applications. Is that allowed?

Yes, projects receiving organizational support are welcome to apply.

For awarded projects, what happens if the production schedule goes beyond the schedule proposed in the application?

Projects must be completed 18 months from award.  We will only consider extensions of a project's schedule for selected projects with a fully executed agreement. Requests for schedule changes will not be accepted until midway through the licensing term.  Extensions in the production schedule are not guaranteed.


FAQs about PitchBLACK 2022

What is PitchBLACK?

PitchBLACK is a dynamic forum where invited filmmakers pitch for production funding ranging from $50,000 to $100,000.  PitchBLACK will be held in New York City at the end of April 2022.  Filmmaking teams of up to 2 people will pitch live to a panel of three judges, which will award one short film and one feature film proposal.  The forum includes an audience of media professionals, funders, and industry stakeholders who will join the event in person and virtually.  After receiving the invitation, the filmmakers will have 2 weeks to rsvp.  Filmmakers joining from outside of NY will receive a travel stipend.  Each filmmaking team will be required to attend at least two virtual pitch training sessions with BPM staff.  

Please note that BPM may adjust plans if needed to meet health recommendations.

How do I participate in PitchBLACK?

If you are awarded funding in the Open Call, you will also receive an invitation to participate in PitchBLACK.  Although it is not required, we encourage you to participate in PitchBLACK for the chance to receive additional funding for your project. 

If I decline the PitchBLACK invitation, will I still receive the Open Call funding award?

Yes, but you will miss out on the opportunity to receive additional funding.

If I am unable to travel to New York City, am I disqualified from participating?

No, you will be able to join the forum virtually.  However, your pitch must still be presented live.  We encourage everyone to join in person for direct one-on-one conversation and networking.  However, we do understand that some circumstances may not allow travel.

Will you require PitchBLACK participants to have the Covid vaccination?

BPM will follow the protocols set by the venues.  When you receive an invitation to pitch, we will confirm if it’s necessary to be vaccinated and/or wear masks in order to attend.

I’ve never pitched before, is that a problem?

No -- PitchBLACK was the first pitching experience for almost all of the filmmakers in past events.  In our 2 required virtual training sessions, we will give you guidelines and tips to strengthen your pitch. The BPM team will also be available for practice and feedback.


For more information please contact

Use Subject Line: Open Call 2021