The New York Times' documentary series Op-Docs is calling for applications to compete in the first-ever Op-Docs pitching event. Taking place at the Points North Documentary Forum this September, The New York Times Op-Docs Pitch will allow selected filmmakers to contend for the chance to produce an opinionated 3-10 minute Op-Doc to premiere on NYTimes.com. Read on for the deets and how you can apply.
Don't get this pitching forum confused with the similar-but-different Points North Pitch we covered Sunday. While both pitching competitions take place during the Points North Documentary Forum, there are important differences in the application forms and winners' loot. For starters, the NYTimes Op-Docs Pitch requires an online link sample video of less than two minutes, while the Points North Pitch requires a sample up to five minutes long. The Op-Docs Pitch has no submission fee, while submissions to Points North Pitch will run you $25. The Op-Docs winner will get the opportunity to produce a piece for Op-Docs with a budget of $2000, while the Points North Pitch winner will get "a $1000 cash prize from Documentary Educational Resources and 60 hours of sound mix or color correction services from Modulus Studios worth approximately $10,000. A second prize will be given to the best New England-based project, which will include a $3000 tuition scholarship to the Maine Media Workshops and three consultations with the Tribeca Film Institute."
Contrast and compare, or just apply to both here.
The New York Times' Op-Docs have technically been open to submissions for quite a while, but those selected to pitch at Points North will likely have a better chance at hitting the ($2000) jackpot since finalists will get direct access the judges during their on-stage presentations. The proposed short documentaries should meet the following criteria taken from the Camden International Film Festival Points North website:
- Run between 3 to 10 minutes (most are around 5 minutes)
- Present a distinctive opinion or perspective. Directors may express their views in the first person, through their choice of interview subjects, or more subtly through an artistic approach to a topic.
- Should fit the tone of Op-Docs. Be sure to check out previous work on the NYT website.
- Can be an original short film or an adaptation of an existing film, but must function as a standalone piece. No trailers or excerpts from longer works.
- The strongest proposals will already be in pre-production or production and be able to show examples of footage, though we will also consider pitches at the concept stage.
- This pitching opportunity is open to all filmmakers who are residents of the United States. The Times welcomes proposals on international topics.
- Finalists will need to pitch in person at Camden International Film Festival and cover their own travel expenses.
While I doubt whether many of the existing Op-Docs were made on a total budget of $2000, the pitching competition provides an opportunity for filmmakers to reach vast audiences with footage re-purposed from documentaries already in production (as long as the piece created for Op-Docs premieres on NYTimes.com). Watch the Times' featured Op-Docs here, or check out a few of my favorites below:
Who's applying? Any tips from Op-Docs or Points North veterans?