Documentary Lab

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 strategize for the completion, distribution and marketing of their films. The program advances the careers of its Fellows by introducing them to film professionals who can advise on both the craft and business of documentary filmmaking.

Over the course of two weeks in May, Fellows attend multiple workshops and sessions with guest speakers, established documentary directors, institutional funders, legal professionals, festival programmers and distributors. Fellows are paired with an experienced Creative Advisor who can provide one-on-one support and insight as they ready their projects for release. The Lab culminates in a final pitch event that offers further opportunity for individualized feedback and discussion with industry executives.

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

Who Can Apply?

The Film Independent Documentary Lab accepts applications for nonfiction films or series that will be in post-production in the spring of 2023. Applicants must submit a work sample which should include a minimum of a polished trailer and scene selects, all the way up to a rough cut. Filmmakers 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.

Film Independent is looking for talented filmmakers with documentary projects that are compelling, original and demonstrate a unique vision. Both experienced and first-time directors are welcome to apply. Creative partners on the documentary (e.g. co-director, producer, editor) can apply with the filmmaker as a team – only one joint application needs to be submitted in such cases.

How to Apply

Applicants must submit the following materials for consideration:

  • A cover letter explaining what inspired you to apply to the Documentary Lab and why this is the right time for you to participate in the program
  • A project description that includes a logline, story summary/synopsis, topic summary, artistic approach, project stage and timeline
  • A summary of distribution/marketing strategy and intended audience
  • A summary of key creative personnel, including bios for each creative team member and a list of attached advisors or consultants
  • Overall fundraising strategy and funding to date
  • Budget information
  • A sample of the director’s prior work or a current work sample

Submit your application here. Applications submitted as a Word doc/via email will not be considered.


  • We are open to filmmakers at any level of experience.
  • International projects are eligible, though the documentary must have English subtitles for consideration.
  • We will reconsider projects that have previously been submitted, provided the filmmaker can demonstrate progress on the project and/or professional development.
  • Filmmakers may apply to multiple Film Independent Artist Development programs and there is no requirement to have participated in any one program before another.
  • Final selections will be based on the written application and supporting materials.
  • Due to the high volume of submissions, we unfortunately are unable to provide feedback about individual projects.
  • Email notifications are made on a rolling basis. Applicants will be notified three to four weeks prior to the start of the program.

Application Fee

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 General Membership rate of $95.

Applicants will be notified three to four weeks prior to the start of the program.

NOTE: Until further notice, the Documentary Lab will be taking place online only.

For more information, please email:

To learn more about Film Independent Fellows and their projects, visit our Talent Guide.