Open Call Filmmakers: Documentary Lab

Open Call Filmmakers: Documentary Lab

Open Call Filmmakers! There is a new opportunity with June 2020 deadlines! The Firelight Media Documentary Lab is an 18-month fellowship program that supports filmmakers from racially and ethnically underrepresented communities working on their first or second feature length documentary film. The Lab provides filmmakers with customized mentorship from prominent leaders in the documentary world, funding, professional development workshops and networking opportunities.

From The Firelight Media Site:

We are looking for applicants who make artful and innovative documentary films that focus on underrepresented communities and provide new narratives about the most pressing issues of our time. Firelight will consider all types of long form documentary projects – historical, investigative, personal, vérité, and experimental.

Firelight utilizes the Core Documentary Application. As part of your submission, you will need to share a work sample no less than 10 minutes and no longer than 30 minutes. If you are submitting a longer rough cut, please indicate in your application which 10-30 mins you’d like for us to review. 

The deadline for all submissions is June 22, 2020, 11:59 PM Eastern.


  • Only the director of the film is eligible to apply and enter the program. We can accept co-directors if they meet all eligibility requirements. If you’re applying with your co-director, please indicate that in your application.
  • Filmmaker must be from a racially and ethnically underrepresented community based in the United States, Puerto Rico, and other U.S. territories. 
  • The project must be a long-form/feature-length documentary; the lab does not accept short documentaries, series, or fiction projects of any kind.
  • Film must be a work-in-progress and in production or post-production. We do not accept films in pre-production or completed films.
  • Filmmaker must be an emerging documentary filmmaker (working on their first or second feature length documentary). 
  • Filmmaker cannot be in school or submit a student film to the lab.

Firelight accepts applications from POC filmmakers based in the United States regardless of their citizenship status. At the moment, we do not accept filmmakers who are based internationally.

You will receive a notification of the status of your application within 16 weeks. If you are among a small group of finalists who advance through a series of peer reviews, you may be asked for additional information or project updates.

Apply Now!

We strongly suggest that you first write your application in a Word document prior to applying via the Submittable portal so you have it as a back-up copy. Please be sure to save your document then copy and paste your responses into the online application via Submittable. THE DATES FOR THE 2020 DOCUMENTARY LAB OPEN CALL ARE MAY 18, 2020 – JUNE 22, 2020 AT 11:59PM EASTERN.

Link to Submittable Application

Watch: Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” trailer

According to Netflix, Becoming is an intimate look into the life of former First Lady Michelle Obama during a moment of profound change, not only for her personally but for the country she and her husband served over eight impactful years in the White House. The film offers a rare and up-close look at her life, taking viewers behind the scenes as she embarks on a 34-city tour that highlights the power of community to bridge our divides and the spirit of connection that comes when we openly and honestly share our stories.

Accelerator Lab Currently Accepting Applications

Accelerator Lab Currently Accepting Applications

Accelerator Lab currently looking for Filmmakers

The Accelerator Lab brought to you by ChickenEggPics is currently looking for documentary filmmakers. According to their site:

“We support filmmakers from diverse backgrounds who are both committed to social change and to the art and craft of filmmaking. When we choose a project, it is because we believe the film needs to be made–and that the particular filmmaker is the one to make it. Our grantees have unique access to their subjects, a collaborative spirit, and the courage to take creative risks. When choosing a project, we look for:

  • Storytelling: Original story, tone, style, and structure
  • Diversity: In all its forms
  • Innovation: Filmmakers with unique voices and projects that take risks
  • Vision: A new perspective on an issue, special access into the story, and the ability to make the universal accessible and personal
  • Craft: Inextricable links between story and production value
  • Resonance: Timely, urgent, or compelling issues at stake

Completing and launching a documentary takes grit, nerve, and creativity; it also takes money, connections, and time. We offer women directors the tools to realize the full potential of their projects, both as works of art and as catalysts for change. Each of our programs represents a pivotal intervention in a woman’s filmmaking career; through them, we empower women storytellers to direct their own careers.

*Chicken & Egg Pictures supports self-identifying women (cis or trans) and gender nonconforming individuals.”

To APPLY follow the link.

Here are 5 tips to remember when applying for the Accelerator Lab:

  1. Proofread your application.
  2. Read your application out loud to catch grammatical errors.
  3. Double check your links (youtube, Vimeo) so there are no errors.
  4. Review and update your resume. Make sure to highlight your most recent qualifications.
  5. Be creative, fearless and YOURSELF. Let you true self shine through.

Good luck and if you get accepted, let us know.




Terence Steele Talks Onward and Upward Documentary

Terence Steele Talks Onward and Upward Documentary

Executive Producer Terence V. Steele is proud to announce production of Onward and Upward: A Documentary Film.

 The story behind Onward and Upward

For over one hundred years the 9 historically black fraternities and sororities of the National Pan-Hellenic Council have worked tirelessly to improve the lot of African-Americans, striving for equality, education, and full participation in American life.  Those organizations include Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Omega Psi Phi, Delta Sigma Theta, Kappa Alpha Psi, Sigma Gamma Rho, Phi Beta Sigma, Zeta Phi Beta, and Iota Phi Theta; together, these organizations have helped mold some of the most relevant and dynamic African-American leaders of our times.  Onward and Upward is the story of the divine 9’s leadership and service.



Onward and Upward is a positive look on the involvement of black fraternities and sororities in the Civil Rights Movement and in our communities…
Terence V. Steele

Executive Producer, Steele Media Group

What Motivated Me To Produce Onward and Upward

I was attracted because it is a positive look on the involvement of black fraternities and sororities in the Civil Rights Movement and in our communities, as well as a change from the current negative spin and norm on black Greek letter organizations.

Why Is Documenting The Roles Of Sororities And Fraternities So Important In Today’s Current Climate?

I think it’s important today because lately black fraternities and sororities have been getting a lot of bad press because of hazing stories dominating the headlines. Also, the backlash from VH1’s reality series “Sorority Girls” didn’t help. These organizations have a rich history and have contributed to that black community since they were founded. I think it’s important to remind people and preserve that history.

What role do current Greek organizations and their members play in the furthering of civil rights?

I think the best thing for fraternities and sororities to do today to further civil rights is to continue to develop outstanding leaders in various sectors of our community. Also, they should continue their community service. Two areas I think we could do better are financial independence (black owned credit unions, etc.) and organizing (boycotts, etc) when it comes to civil rights activism.


Please check out Terence V Steele & Onward and Upward’s Social Links:

Steele Media Group YouTube Page

Onward and Upward Website

Terence V. Steele Website

More About Terence:

After working with other filmmakers, Steele ventured out on his own and started his own film production company: Steele Media Group. Under Steele Media Group, he has produced the romantic comedy “Atlanta To New York”, as well as the documentary “The Spirit of ’69” highlighting the legacy of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. at the University of Georgia.