TFI/ESPN Short Documentary Program: Rules and Regulations

The TFI/ESPN Short Documentary Program will award emerging and traditionally underrepresented filmmakers devoted to creating short-form documentaries which highlight the exceptionally creative work of an athletic community or organization. The prize aims to highlight aspiring storytellers that are producing creative, story-driven films that highlight issues of social importance through the lens of sports, athletics, or competition in the United States and around the world.

Submissions Now Closed


Each filmmaking team will receive between $15,000 - $20,000 to use towards the production or post-production of their film. In addition to financial support, grantees will receive curated professional guidance and mentorship through a workshop, led by TFI and select industry leaders. The workshop’s activities will be tailored to the needs of the selected filmmaking teams and will introduce them to the larger filmmaking community during the Tribeca Film Festival. Additional ancillary support includes project notes, networking assistance, and exposure to financing and distribution executives.


In order to qualify for the TFI/ESPN Short Documentary Program, applicants must comply with ALL of the following Rules and Eligibility Requirements. Failure to comply with these rules will render a submission ineligible:


  • Submissions must have key team members that consider themselves emerging in the field. Graduate film students are welcome to apply.
  • Submissions must be short-form documentaries with an intended length of 10 - 40 minutes. 
  • Submissions should creatively document unique character(s) and highlight an athletic initiative that is beneficial to a larger community.
  • Submissions can be in the advanced stages of development or production and must not have aired on any form of television, been screened publicly or have been distributed in theaters or via the Internet.
  • Foreign language documentaries are eligible, but must be subtitled and suitable for an American audience.
  • Applicants must be over 18 years old.
  • Grantees must finish their films within one year of receiving the prize. Consideration will be given not only to the creative merit of each project, but also the team’s ability to complete the project within one year of receiving the prize.

All submitting applicants must complete the online application form and upload a thorough proposal to include:

  • A 2 - 4 page treatment, outlining the form and style of the film. Treatments should also highlight story, characters, unique access and intended social impact.
  • Bios of filmmaker(s) and key crew members
  • Contact information for key crew members
  • A concise timeline explaining the sequence of steps required for the completion of the eligible film
  • A budget detailing how the requested funds will be used
  • Sample footage of the project is strongly encouraged. This should be a minimum of 5 consecutive minutes in length, and we encourage longer. If footage of submitted project is not available, we require one full sample of the director’s prior work. Examples of prior work may include a webisode, short film, feature film, music video, commercial, etc. Please DO NOT provide reels or more than two samples of prior work, unless there is more than one director attached to the project. 
  • All footage must be supplied via an online-streaming. DVD’s are not accepted.


Submissions Open – November 9th, 2017
Submissions Close – January 28th, 2018  (11:59pm EST)

All applicants will be informed of their status by March 15, 2018.


There is no entry fee to apply for the TFI/ESPN Short Documentary Program.


Feel free to contact us if you have any further questions regarding the entry process: or (212) 274-8080.