Firelight Media’s flagship Documentary Lab seeks out and develops emerging filmmakers of color who make artful and innovative nonfiction films. The 18-month Documentary Lab provides filmmakers with customized mentorship from prominent leaders in the documentary world, as well as funding, professional development workshops, and networking opportunities.
More than just a workshop, the Documentary Lab is unrivaled in its representation of diverse filmmakers, creating an exclusive network of talented, unique storytellers that receive ongoing support from a project’s conception to its completion. Over the last decade, the Documentary Lab grew from a mentorship program to a robust artist development initiative that has supported over 100 emerging filmmakers, and granted over $600k toward productions and distribution.
The Firelight Media Documentary Lab is an 18-month fellowship program that supports filmmakers in the United States from racially and ethnically underrepresented communities directing their first or second feature-length documentary film. The Documentary Lab provides filmmakers with a $25,000 grant toward their projects as well as customized mentorship from prominent leaders in the documentary world, professional development retreats, and networking opportunities.
We look for applicants who make artful and innovative documentary films that focus on underrepresented communities and provide new narratives about the most pressing issues of our time. Firelight Media will consider all types of long-form documentary projects – historical, investigative, personal, vérité, and experimental.
Firelight Media utilizes the Core Documentary Application. As part of your submission, you will need to share a work sample or rough cut no less than 10 minutes and no longer than 30 minutes.
*Firelight Media accepts applications from filmmakers who identify as people of color based in the United States regardless of their citizenship status. At the moment, we do not accept filmmakers who are based internationally for this program.
View a recording of the 2021 Documentary Lab Open Call Q&A on our YouTube page.
View Documentary Lab FAQs (PDF).
The dates for the 2022 Documentary Lab Open Call are Monday, May 2, 2022 - Monday, June 13, 2022 at 11:59PM EST.
We strongly suggest that you first write your application in a Word document or create your own separate copy as a back-up prior to applying via the Submittable portal. Please be sure to save your document then copy & paste your responses into the online application via Submittable. Uploading files into your application via Submittable might take some time, do not wait until the last hour to submit, we do not accept any late submissions.
Questions about the Documentary Lab? Please write to us at email@example.com.
Major funding support for Firelight Media’s Documentary Lab is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with additional support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, the Wyncote Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Park Foundation, the New York Community Trust, and the NY State Council on the Arts.