NBCU Academy, in partnership with NBC News Studios, the NBC News documentary storytelling division, is collaborating with IF/Then Shorts to launch the Original Voices Shorts Pitch – a national open call for archival and journalistically driven short documentaries highlighting social issues and identities.
The purpose of the Original Voices Shorts Pitch is to open doors to the NBCU newsroom and archive to diverse documentary filmmakers eager to present a more vibrant, equitable, and accurate take on American history and society today. Reaffirming the values of integrity and inclusion in order to spur innovation, the Original Voices Shorts Pitch aims to break down barriers of authorship and authority between news media networks and consumers, support diverse documentary filmmakers with the resources of a legacy news organization, and strengthen public trust in fact-based reporting and film.
The pitch will take place in person in fall 2023 in New York City.
This call is open to US-based documentarians who identify as – or showcase stories highlighting social issues affecting – women, LGBTQ+ folx, communities of color, and people with disabilities. Projects should aim to include archival material (in particular, creatively utilizing the NBCU Archive) follow news standards, and be completing work with journalistic rigor at a level suitable for broadcast on an NBC affiliate platform.
Five teams will be invited to pitch their short documentary works-in-progress to a panel of journalists and executives from a host of legacy news organizations. Each pitch will last 7 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of constructive feedback, questions, and dialogue from a jury panel comprised of journalists, funders, news executives, and distributors.
Each selected team will receive a non-recoupable grant of $6,000 to support the development and production of their project as well as their travel to New York for participation. In advance of the pitch, each team will receive extensive pitch training and review of their proposed work sample from NBC News Studios and IF/Then Staff. Each of the finalists will also have an opportunity to meet 1:1 with NBC News Studios executives to get direct creative feedback and advice on how to advance their film.
The winning team will receive $100,000 in financing and a commission deal which includes access to the NBCU archive, executives, journalists, festival and distribution strategy, as well as an opportunity to screen the finished film at Comcast and NBCU broadcasters, streamers, events, and festivals. NBC News Studios will also have first right of refusal to develop the short into a feature film in-house with the director and producer attached.