TFI/ESPN Short Documentary Program: Frequently Asked Questions

Submissions Now Closed

How do I apply?

An application for the TFI/ESPN Short Documentary Program consists of an online form that must be completed and uploaded by the submission deadline. 

What is a proposal/treatment?

Your 2 - 4 page written proposal/treatment is required. While the online application provides us with a reference for your information, the proposal/treatment is your chance to fully introduce your film and yourself. Your proposal/treatment should provide a clear overview of what happens (or what you intend to happen) in your story from start to finish, introducing all of the major characters and covering all of the major plot points. It is important that you not only lay forth the characters and major beats, but link them together in a way that reflects the tone and style of the story you intend to tell. Treatments that are too short or vague will not be considered strongly. Your proposal is usually read before your work sample is viewed, so it is your chance to explain context, production notes and your approach to the film.

Can I request funding to be applied towards outreach, marketing or distribution?

No, funds can only be applied towards the production or post-production of your film.

I have both a trailer and a rough cut ready- which one should I submit as a sample?

The idea is for you to put forth what you consider to be your best work. We will accept all materials you choose to make available. If you have a trailer and/or rough cut at the ready, feel free to provide both. Work from the project can be in any language or dialect; however, if it is not in English it must be subtitled or include an English transcript with the footage.

Can I provide a previously completed work instead of a sample from the submitted project?

Yes. All applicants MUST provide some footage (extended trailer, scene assemblage, rough cut) no less than 5 minutes in length. All projects applying in development or pre-production, with no current footage available, may provide sample footage of a previous work.

If my project is selected for TFI/ESPN Short Documentary Program will it screen at the Tribeca Film Festival?

Acceptance to the TFI/ESPN Short Documentary Program does not indicate acceptance to the festival. Filmmakers with completed films seeking to apply to the Tribeca Film Festival should fill out a separate application by visiting Tribeca Film Festival.

Are there any stipulations on how I spend my grant if selected?

Yes. TFI/ESPN Short Documentary Program grantees will use the grant toward their film’s production or post-production stages. However, the recipients of the grant will work with TFI staff to work out the best plan on how to spend the funds. TFI reserves the right to withhold portions of the funding if, during a required update or review of the project, certain goals and guidelines previously set are not met. The project should be completed within one year.

Where can I find additional answers to questions? 

You will find more information about the application process in our Rules & Regulations. Our staff will be happy to answer any other questions or concerns you may have. Please contact us at or 212.274.8080