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The Firelight Documentary Lab supports filmmakers from underrepresented communities in the United States who make artful and innovative documentary films that take risks, and provide new narratives about the most pressing issues of our time. Firelight will consider all types of documentary projects - historical, investigative, personal, vérité, and experimental.

Firelight Media uses the Nonfiction Core Application. Along with your written application, you must submit a work sample (for projects in Production) or a rough cut (for projects in Post-Production). Your work sample or rough cut must be no less than 10 minutes and no longer than 30 minutes in duration.  

The deadline for submissions is May 13, 2024 at 11:59PM ET. Under no circumstances will we accept late submissions. We strongly suggest writing your application in a Word document prior to applying. Please be sure to save your document then copy and paste your responses into the online application.  


  • Only the director of the film is eligible to apply and enter the program. We can accept co-directors if they meet all eligibility requirements. If you’re applying with your co-director, please indicate that in your application. We cannot accept more than 2 directors per project.
  • Filmmaker must be from an underrepresented community and be residing in the United States or U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, U.S. Samoa, Guam/Northern Mariana Islands).
  • The project must be a long-form/feature-length documentary; the Lab does not accept short documentaries, series, or fiction projects of any kind.
  • Film must be a work-in-progress. We accept films from early production through production or post-production. We do not accept films in pre-production or completed films.
  • Filmmaker must be an emerging documentary filmmaker (working on their first or second feature length documentary).

Filmmakers are not eligible to receive support through one or any of Firelight Media’s artist programs if:

  • The filmmaker is applying with a project that is a student film or related to ongoing coursework.
  • The filmmaker is re-applying to a program they previously received support from. 
  • The filmmaker is contracted with another Firelight Media artist program and has not completed the final deliverables by the time they are selected for this program.
  • The filmmaker is employed by Firelight Media, Firelight Films, or PBS as an officer, full-time employee, or is a member of the board of directors.
  • The filmmaker does not hold the majority of the intellectual property of the film.


If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact: doclab@firelightmedia.org. If you'd like to learn more about Firelight Media's Mission, Vision and Values, please visit our website.


Questions about using Submittable? View this webpage.

We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.