Netflix will pay 10 UK filmmakers to make a documentary - and you don’t need previous experience

Streaming giant Netflix has unveiled a new initiative for aspiring documentary makers. It will pay for 10 emerging filmmakers in the UK to make a short documentary.

Netflix has said that it wants to give “creative freedom to writers and directors to tell the stories they want to tell, unrestricted by time and form.”

The Documentary Talent Fund is aimed at finding “the next generation of filmmakers” by offering a budget and the guidance of Netflix and other filmmaking professionals.

The brief for the short documentaries is, “Britain’s Not Boring And Here’s A Story.”

Netflix says that, in their finished forms, each documentary must be between eight and 12 minutes long.

Kate Townsend, Netflix’s director of original documentaries, said, “We’re really excited to open up this opportunity to ambitious documentary filmmakers in the UK.

“It doesn’t matter if you’ve never picked up a camera before, we want to encourage anyone with a great story to tell to go for it.

“We are on the hunt for the bravest, wittiest, most surprising stories out there and we can’t wait to see what you’ve got.”

How much will I get paid?

Successful applicants will be awarded with a budget of between £20,000 and £40,000 each.

Netflix says, “Within each film’s budget, teams must ensure that filmmakers and everyone involved in the production are fairly paid.”

Will the funded ideas be released on Netflix?

While Netflix is funding the documentaries, having the films released on Netflix is not part of the opportunity.

“No, this is not guaranteed. In their finished forms, each documentary will live on Netflix UK’s social channels, with the potential for further development in the future,” Netflix said.

The final films will be showcased at an event attended by industry professionals, which would offer valuable networking opportunities.

Each team will also own and retain their own copyright throughout the process.

How to apply

Applications for the documentary fund will open on 4 January 2021 on the Netflix Doc Fund website here. Applications will then close later that month, on 31 January 2021.

You will be required to submit a short synopsis and creative statement about your documentary idea, and Netflix will also ask for details about any team you might have in place.

You’ll also be asked about any previous experience in documentary making, although this isn’t essential in order to be rewarded the fund. You’ll also be asked why you want to make your film.

After applications have been received, a longlist will be selected. If you’ve made it to the longlist stage, you’ll be contacted for further information to support your application, including a video pitch.

In April, the top ideas will be asked to pitch to an industry panel, with the top 10 documentaries then selected in May.

From May 2021 to January 2022, the documentaries will be made, ahead of being launched to the public in January 2022.

Who can apply?

This opportunity is offered to UK residents only, and only one application will be accepted per person.

This means that if you have multiple ideas, you can only put one forward.

Netflix will accept applications from solo filmmakers, as well as teams consisting of a director, editor, director of photography and/or producer.

However, Netflix “can also help you get a team together should you be a solo applicant,” so don’t worry if you don’t have anyone available to help you film.