Short Films

Firelight Media produces documentary short film series in partnership with a variety of public media organizations. Ongoing series include 'In the Making,' with PBS American Masters, and a collection of regional shorts, 'HOMEGROWN,' presented in partnership with the PBS.


Note: The call for proposals for season 4 of In The Making is open now through July 19, 2024. This request for proposals is invitation-only for Firelight-supported filmmakers and by nomination from a BIPOC-led organization.




Firelight Media and PBS’ AMERICAN MASTERS are partnering to produce the fourth season of In the Making, a documentary short film series about emerging masters in the fields of art and culture. Films from this innovative series have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and Big Sky Documentary Film Festival and have been nominated for multiple Webby Awards. The show's first season was also nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Short-form Series — Reality/Nonfiction. Watch Seasons 1 and 2 here. Season 3 is currently in production and will be released in Winter 2025.

In the Making Season 4 seeks cinematic and character-driven shorts that have a running time of 15 minutes or less and profile artists from diverse and underrepresented communities. Projects can vary in scope, artistic approach, and subject matter. We are particularly interested in stories that explore how the arts reflect American culture, employ innovative approaches to non-fiction storytelling, dig deeply into the artistic process, have unique access, and feature complex characters with unexpected trajectories.

In the Making Season 4 will continue the series’ focus on the intersection of art and social movements and the critical role that artists play in reflecting, shaping, and giving form to culture and society. Firelight Media and AMERICAN MASTERS invite underrepresented filmmakers to create short films that profile BIPOC artists from any artistic discipline, from music to visual art, poetry to dance. The artist’s work must be deeply engaged with socio-cultural issues, and the artist must currently be on the rise – the series aims to feature artists who could very well become future “American Masters.” These short films should emphasize the artistic process and each subject’s immersion into their community as active working artists.


This request for proposals is invitation-only for Firelight-supported filmmakers and by nomination from a BIPOC-led organization. Eight filmmakers will be selected to work with AMERICAN MASTERS and Firelight Media throughout pre-production, production, post-production, and distribution. Firelight Media and AMERICAN MASTERS will provide funding and will select projects jointly. Films will be showcased on AMERICAN MASTERS digital platforms with additional distribution partners to be announced.

Each filmmaker will produce a short film with a running time of 15 minutes or less, to be completed by June 2025.

Projects will receive up to $50,000 for the production of the short. Please be prepared to submit a project synopsis, story summary, timeline, and budget. Filmmakers must secure and provide evidence of access to the artist who will be profiled. Project proposals will receive a response within six weeks of the submission deadline. Submissions will not be accepted beyond July 19, 2024, unless otherwise noted.

In September 2024, eight (8) selected filmmakers will be invited to:

  • Receive up to $50K in production funding for a commissioned documentary short (running time of 15 minutes and under);
  • A virtual orientation with AMERICAN MASTERS and Firelight Media;
  • Creative and editorial guidance from AMERICAN MASTERS and Firelight Media; and
  • Distribution by AMERICAN MASTERS and Firelight Media.


  • Must identify as a member of an underrepresented community.
  • The project must be short form, with a running time of 15 minutes and under.
  • Must be willing and able to work collaboratively with Firelight Media and AMERICAN MASTERS staff.
  • Must have access to the proposed subject, artwork, and artistic process.
  • Must be able to complete the documentary within a ten-month period.
  • Must have completed one previous short, broadcast hour, or feature that was distributed via festival, television, or streaming.
  • Must reside in the United States, Puerto Rico, or other U.S. territories.


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

  • Applying with a project that is a student film or related to ongoing coursework.
  • Re-applying to a program they previously received support from. 
  • Contracted with another Firelight Media Artist Program and has not completed the final deliverables by September 2024.
  • Employed by Firelight Media or PBS as an officer, full-time employee, or is a member of the board of directors.
  • Not holders of the majority of the intellectual property of the film.
June 20, 2024
July 19, 2024


If you are a disabled filmmaker and would like to submit a visual or audio-based application or have any other access needs, please contact and put “ITM S4 - TITLE”. 

Funding for this program is provided by
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