From Concept to Contract

The Path of an ITVS Proposal

You’ve got a story that needs to be told. One that hasn’t been seen before, with the power to spark social change. ITVS can give you the funding and support you need to complete your documentary-in-progress, then air it on public television.

Our Open Call initiative invites independent filmmakers to propose a single nonfiction program for broadcast on public media. Open Call has two funding rounds each year, with application deadlines around February and August. The review process can take up to 15 weeks.

How We Evaluate Open Call Applications

  • Your project should be compelling, innovative, and well conceived for public television; meet the ITVS mission; and appeal to a national broadcast audience.
  • Your treatment should clearly describe the visuals, structure, and style of your project and address your target audience.
  • We evaluate your work-in-progress sample for its production values, presentation of characters, and visual style.
  • Your production team should be experienced and capable enough to complete the program on schedule and within budget.
  • You should be able to demonstrate credible access and rapport with your proposed subject and story.

The Review Process

Each complete application submitted to Open Call is assigned an ITVS staff member and a peer reviewer. Our peer reviewers are ethnically and geographically diverse members of the independent and public media communities.

After a careful review, the top 8-10 percent of applicants are chosen to advance as finalists. You’ll receive an email that lets you know if you’ve been selected.

Finalists submit a full production budget and answer additional production questions for a feasibility review. A five-person panel of producers and industry peers reviews all treatments, screens work-in-progress samples and discusses the merit of each project.

Our programming and production department reviews the projects the panel recommends for funding, then proposes a programming slate to our content strategy team. ITVS President and CEO Sally Jo Fifer approves the final funding recipients.

About one to three percent of Open Call applicants are awarded funding, with amounts averaging between $150,000 and $350,000.  Applicants who are offered Open Call funding are invited to attend a Producer Orientation at the ITVS offices in San Francisco. 

For more information, see Open Call