Documentary Lab

An intensive five-week program designed to help filmmakers who are currently in post-production on their feature-length documentary films

Through a series of meetings and workshops, the Documentary Lab provides creative feedback and story notes to participating filmmakers, while helping them to strategize for the completion, distribution, and marketing of their films.

Additionally, the program serves to advance the careers of its Fellows by making introductions to film professionals who can advise on both the craft and business of documentary filmmaking. Lab Fellows attend multiple guest speaker and workshopping sessions with established documentary directors, institutional funders, legal professionals, festival programmers and distributors, and each is paired with an experienced Creative Advisor who can provide one-on-one support and insight as the Fellows ready their projects for release. The Lab culminates in an industry-facing work-in-progress screening, further extending the project’s visibility and deepening the Fellows’ relationships with industry professionals at this crucial stage in the filmmaking process.

For more information on the application deadline please visit our applications page.


Susan Murdy Documentary Film Fellowship

The Susan Murdy Documentary Film Fellowship provides a $10,000 grant in support of a visionary Film Independent Documentary Lab participant.

Who Can Apply?

The Film Independent Documentary Lab is open to any director of a feature-length or hour-long documentary film in post-production at the time of application. In general, we’re seeking projects already in the rough-cut stage, but may consider exceptional projects in an early phase of post-production. Films that have yet to complete the majority of principal photography, and those that do not yet have any footage assembled are not eligible to apply.

How to Apply:

Applicants must submit the following materials for consideration:

  • A cover letter explaining your interest in the Documentary Lab
  • A logline and synopsis
  • Bios of attached key and crew
  • Project status and history
  • Budget information and a finance plan
  • A rough cut or scene assembly of your project (via DVD* or online link)

* Materials submitted on DVD will not be returned.

Application Fee

Selection Criteria

Film Independent is looking for talented filmmakers with feature-length or one-hour documentary projects that are compelling, original, and demonstrate a unique, filmmaker’s vision. Both experienced and first-time directors are welcome to apply. Creative partners on the documentary (e.g. co-director, producer or editor) can apply with the filmmaker as a team and need only to apply with one joint application.

The Fine Print

Beyond the application fee, there is no cost or tuition to participate in any of Film Independent’s Artist Development programs.

Film Independent membership is not required when applying to Artist Development Labs; however, all participants accepted into the labs are required to join Film Independent at the standard annual membership rate of $95.

Those applicants who are invited to participate in the program should plan to be in Los Angeles for the four-week duration of the Lab. Film Independent is unable to subsidize any travel, lodging and/or visa expenses for any participants attending from outside of Los Angeles. Participants are expected to attend all sessions in person.

For more information, please email: [email protected].