Ends on November 15, 2019

Throughout its decades of supporting Black storytellers through funding and training opportunities, Black Public Media has always been thrilled to announce an Open Call to our incredible creative community.  We look forward to learning about the range of stories told in a variety of styles, platforms and perspectives that are underway. BPM’s Open Call is our chance to celebrate the complexity of the Black experience through story.  

This year’s Open Call is for feature-length documentaries, shorts (non-fiction or scripted) or limited podcast series for public media distribution. Selected projects will receive production funds to advance their work. There are no limits on the subject area. However, we encourage work that will promote discourse and engage audiences around a critical social issue. In addition, we welcome proposals that target specific viewers such as children and teen audiences.

Projects will be funded in amounts ranging from $50,000 - $150,000, depending on the type of project, scope and phase of development/production.  Please note that BPM funding awards are licensing agreements for public media distribution.

To be eligible:

  • The applicant must (a) be the project’s producer or director (b) be a US citizen (c) have a minimum of three (3) years professional producing and/or directing experience, or have a senior producer attached to the project;
  • Key creative personnel must include a person of African descent or person of color;
  • The proposed content must be  nonfiction or scripted shorts, feature-length documentaries, or limited podcast series for public media distribution;
  • The project must be in R&D or production/completion phase and must be completed no later than May 31, 2022;
  • Total Project Budget should not exceed $600,000 for a stand alone or one-off documentary or the pilot for b'cast/web series; and $100,000 for all other project types; However we will review projects at all budget levels;
  • The applicant must hold artistic, budgetary and editorial control, and must own the copyright of the proposed project;

Projects or production entities that are foreign-based, owned or controlled are NOT eligible. Neither are industrial, promotional or student films.

Application Deadline: Nov. 15, 2019  

A panel of media professionals across the industry will guide the two-tier review process. Applicants will be notified as their project advances to the next stage. If necessary, additional materials may be requested of the finalists.  Awards will be announced in May 2020.  

Projects selected for funding will receive a BPM funding contract. The contract is not a grant but a licensing agreement in which BPM is granted exclusive or shared domestic public television distribution rights as well as the exclusive or shared right to package, schedule and promote the program through public broadcasting. BPM makes no expressed or implied commitment to financially support a project until an agreement is signed by both the applicant and BPM. As a condition of the funding contract, producers must agree to BPM's standard terms and conditions, including the following:
 --For broadcast projects, assignment to BPM of public television broadcast rights for four (4) years over national public television, off-air record rights, and internet streaming rights;
 --For web projects only, assignment to BPM of streaming rights for three (3) years;
 --Funding and/or Presentation credit to BPM and CPB;
 --Net revenues must be shared with BPM from the exercise of subsidiary or ancillary rights over a fifteen (15) year period;
 --Financial books and records related to the production must be maintained for three (3) years following the receipt of funds or net revenues by the producers.

Producers must comply with all equal employment opportunity and non-discrimination laws and policies, payola/plugola requirements and other applicable federal and state rules and regulations.

What types of projects are eligible?
BPM is eager to diversify our pool with applicants working in a range of formats, styles, subject matter and genres. Alongside feature-length and short documentaries, we hope to see audio projects, children’s programming and scripted shorts included among the submissions.
I’m not a U.S. citizen. Can I still apply?
At least one or more of the key production team members  (Writer, Director, Producer) must be a U.S. citizen or green-card holder..
I am not African American or of African descent. Can I still apply?
At least one or more of the key production team members (Writer, Director, Producer) must be of African descent or person of color.
Are international projects eligible?
Projects or production entities, which are foreign-based, owned or controlled will not be considered.
I’m working on several projects. Can I submit them all?
While a single producer or production team may submit multiple applications, each project must be submitted separately, and no more than one project from any producer or production team will ultimately receive support.
I have a finished film but I still need funding to pay off production expenses. Can I apply?
No, funds are only available for projects that are in their R&D, production or post-production phase.
I don’t hold the copyright for my project. Can I apply?
Applicant must hold artistic, budgetary and editorial control and must own the copyright of the proposed project.
I already have a deal to stream my project online. Can I apply?
For awarded projects, BPM will hold premiere rights for 4 years exclusive on public media. Projects for which the domestic broadcast and/or streaming rights are not available will not be considered.
Are student projects eligible to apply?
Thesis projects or student films which are co- or solely-owned or copyrighted, or otherwise editorially or fiscally controlled by the school are not eligible.
Are industrial, children’s, promotional projects or impact campaigns eligible?
Industrial, promotional projects and impact campaigns are not eligible for funding.
Our public media organization is interested in helping employees with their applications. Is that allowed?
Yes, projects receiving organizational support are welcome to apply.

For  awarded projects, what happens if the production schedule goes beyond the schedule proposed in the application? Projects must be completed no later than May 31, 2022.  We will only consider extensions of a project's schedule for selected projects with a fully executed agreement. Requests for schedule changes will not be accepted until midway through the licensing term.  Extensions in the production schedule are not guaranteed. 

 For more information please contact funding@blackpublicmedia.org