ITVS Digital Open Call Frequently Asked Questions

February 4, 2019

Q: Who should apply?

The Digital Open Call Fund supports nonfiction digital projects that are in development, not in production, for distribution through public media. 

Q: What percentage of applications are actually funded?

A: The selection process is highly competitive. Generally, ITVS traditionally funds 5-10 percent of projects submitted through Digital Open Call.

Q: Do you have a preferred number of episodes for a digital series? 

Your story will dictate the number of episodes in a season. We’ll work with you through the story development phase to evaluate your episode count.

Q: Do you have a preferred length per episode? 

No longer than 5 minutes per episode is a good rule of thumb for digital series; standalone shorts can be longer (up to 10-12 minutes). It’s important to think through the budget and online viewing habits, which will help determine length. Episodes in a series do not need to be the same exact length.

Q: Do episodes need to be serialized? 

Episodes do not need to be serialized, but the series will need to have a clearly defined thread from episode to episode.  

Q: Do I need to have previous digital experience?

The Applicant must have played a principal role on at least one production, either a film, television or online program, that was completed and exhibited or distributed. Digital projects are preferred but not required. 

If you are submitting a digital native short it must have been distributed through a third party, not self-uploaded to YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, your own production company website, etc. Indicate where it was published and link if available. If the link is deactivated provide supporting documentation proving it was distributed to a third party. If your project was a graduate thesis project, indicate university and year completed. Undergraduate work will not be accepted. Commercials and promos are not accepted.

Q: Can I apply with a co-applicant?


Q: How early in development is too early? What is considered early production?

Applicants must be able to demonstrate proven access to their subject matter in their application materials but can complete casting during the development phase. We recognize that some applicants may have completed some pre-production work or shot some initial test/sample footage. On the application, you will be asked to describe any such production work you have completed thus far on the project, including significant interviews, number of characters, important scenes, and any travel around the project, etc.

Q: My web series or standalone short is finished. Can I apply for funding to pay for publicity, marketing, outreach, or to reimburse loans or investors, etc.?

A: No. Only projects in development or pre-production are eligible for Digital Open Call funding. 

Q: Who should fill out the application?

A: The independent producer/applicant should fill out the application. This individual should be the intended signatory for the development agreement. 

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

A: You will receive an email from ITVS confirming receipt of your application.

Q: Can I submit more than one application per cycle?

A: Only one application is permitted at any one time to any ITVS initiative. Applicants are not able to apply to multiple ITVS funding initiatives at the same time. 

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

 A. In order to be fair to all applicants, we are unable to add project updates to active applications. Should projects advance to the panel phase of review, applicants will be asked to provide project updates. 

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

A: In order to be fair to all applicants, ITVS staff will only review materials as part of the application process after they are submitted through our online application. 

Q: Can ITVS provide a sample completed application for reference?

No. All submitted applications are confidential and the property of the applicant. 

Q: What are specific examples of digital projects you have funded?

A: Please consult the ITVS website to learn about ITVS-funded digital projects. 

Q: If I have other funders for my project, am I still eligible for Digital Open Call funding?

A: Yes, but secured funding commitments are not required in the development phase. Pending or confirmed funds should be listed in the appropriate section of the application, with a description of rights, if any, that have been given to confirmed funders.

Q: Do I need a fiscal sponsor? Can I apply as an organization?

A:  No, you do not need a fiscal sponsor. Yes, you can apply as an organization if the applicant is an independent producer, which is defined by ITVS as a producer not regularly employed as a staff producer or director by a public or commercial broadcast station or studio.

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

A:  Yes, you can reapply to Digital Open Call with the same project. However, if the pilot or standalone short has been completed it is no longer eligible. If you are reapplying with a previously declined project, we recommend sending in updated materials that detail the progress made from previous applications. 

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.