NBCU Academy and NBC News Studios’ ‘Original Voices’ Fellowship Launches Shorts Film Pitch for Diverse Filmmakers

Original Voices Shorts | NBCU Academy | NBC News Studios

NEW YORK (March 10, 2023) – NBCU Academy and NBC News Studios, in collaboration with IF/Then Shorts, launched the Original Voices Shorts Pitch, a national open call for diverse filmmakers working on archival and journalistically driven short documentaries highlighting underrepresented communities to pitch their works in progress. 

Following a national open call, five teams will be selected to receive a $6,000 grant and travel to New York City this fall, where they will take the stage at DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary festival, to pitch their projects in front of a live panel of journalists, funders, news executives, and distributors. 

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One winning team will receive a $100,000 investment, a commission deal with NBC News Studios, NBC News’ documentary storytelling division, and unprecedented access to NBCU News Group’s vast archives, production resources as well as executives and journalists across the News Group.

Applications for the Original VoicesShorts Pitch are open now through April 14, 2023. It is open to US-based documentarians 18 years or older who identify as – or showcase stories highlighting social issues affecting – women, LGBTQ+ folx, communities of color, and people with disabilities, regardless of career stage. For more information on the application process, please visit: fieldofvision.org/ov2023

NBCU Academy and NBC News Studios launched ‘Original Voices,’ an inclusive film fellowship and artist development program in 2021. Since its inception, the program has provided 13 diverse filmmaking teams grants and bespoke multi-year fellowships to support feature-length nonfiction films with tremendous success. Four films have premiered so far, including I Didn’t See You There (Sundance 2022 – Best Documentary Director Award), Mija (Sundance 2022), BAD PRESS (Sundance 2023 – Special Jury Prize for Freedom of Expression) and Hummingbirds (Berlinale 2023 – Grand Prix, Generation 14plus). I Didn’t See You There director Reid Davenport recently won the Truer Than Fiction Spirit Award at the 2023 Film Independent awards. 

The award-winning NBCU Academy is a multi-platform journalism program which partners with 45 academic institutions across the country to provide scholarships, education, on-campus training, funding for accredited journalism programs and more. NBCU Academy reflects Comcast NBCUniversal and NBCU News Group’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. It is part of Project UP, Comcast NBCUniversal’s comprehensive initiative to advance digital equity and help build a future of unlimited possibilities. NBCU Academy provides tools, resources, and platforms for underrepresented voices in partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, STEM Programs, and colleges with significant Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Black, Indigenous and tribal populations. In June 2020, Comcast NBCUniversal announced a multi-year commitment to help address systemic racism and inequality. In July 2020, NBCU News Group Chairman Cesar Conde announced the Fifty Percent Challenge Initiative, a goal for the News Group workforce to be 50% women and 50% people of color. NBCU Academy will present its third “Next Level Summit” on March 22, a free, all-day virtual program that offers networking, headlining sessions and breakout discussions on trends that are transforming the media industry. 

NBC News Studios is a production company specializing in premium documentaries, docuseries, podcasts and scripted programs for platforms both inside and outside of NBCUniversal. Recent projects include The Disappearance of Shere Hite, which premiered to glowing reviews at the Sundance Film Festival in 2023; the SxSW feature, Diamond Hands: The Legend of Wall Street Bets; the Toronto Film Festival selection, Memory Box: Echoes of 9/11 and Dawn Porter’s The Way I See It, the highest rated non-news program in MSNBC’s 26-year history and winner of the 2020 NY Film Critics Award for Best Documentary. NBC News Studios first scripted series The Thing About Pam, starring Renee Zellweger and produced with Blumhouse, was NBC’s top rated new show of the 2021-2022 season and the network’s top digital launch ever.  Upcoming projects include Leguizamo Does America for MSNBC Films and the Focus Features documentary, Every Body, directed by Julie Cohen. 

IF/Then Shorts is a program of Field of Vision. With a focus on breaking systemic and structural barriers to access, IF/Then amplifies regional, community-centered stories and supports non-fiction filmmakers through a combination of project grants, substantial mentorship, industry consultations, editorial feedback, filmmaker advocacy, and multi-platform distribution support. Since its inception in 2017, IF/Then has supported 90+ U.S. and international short documentary projects through pitch competitions at renowned film festivals and open calls for labs and residencies around topics of economic inclusion, climate change, nature access, and migration. IF/Then partners with funders, distributors, film festivals, and industry experts to amplify artistic, regional narratives from storytellers who demonstrate authentic and relevant connection to the lives and communities they depict onscreen. Many IF/Then-supported projects have achieved prestigious festival premieres, awards, and extensive media broadcasts on platforms such as New York Times Op-Docs, Al Jazeera English, PBS REEL SOUTH, POV Shorts, Criterion Channel, Cathay Pacific Airlines, Netflix, and more.”

DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary festival, takes place annually in November and was founded in 2010; the 14th edition will be held November 8-26, 2023. The 2022 festival presented more than 200 films and events, in person and online. In addition to premiering feature-length and short documentaries, the festival’s highlights also include DOC NYC PRO — a year-round series of in-depth panels and professional development sessions for filmmakers — and the Visionaries Tribute awards ceremony that honors major figures in the field of nonfiction film. DOC NYC is produced and presented by IFC Center, a division of AMC Networks.

For more information contact:

Lorie Acio
NBCU News Group
e: [email protected]

Liza Pluto
NBCU News Group
e: [email protected]