mg 8185 copy

Joseph Rowntree Foundation x The Guardian Pitch

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Guardian are collaborating on a new public pitch to take place at Sheffield Doc/Fest in June 2018.

The opportunity invites filmmakers to present ideas for short documentaries about poverty in the UK that seek to reframe the issue and engage a wide, mainstream audience ‘beyond the choir’. JRF and the Guardian are looking to support up to three short films with funding (£20,000 per film) and global release via
This is an open call for submissions. Filmmakers from any country may apply however the stories must have a UK focus. Proposals should be for short documentaries of 15-30 minutes. They should be original shorts, not re-versions of longer films unless there is a clear identity to any derivative short documentary. Submissions should be well-researched, well-developed ideas with confirmed access to subjects—i.e. more than just a conceptual proposal. 
A shortlist of up to six projects will be selected to pitch their idea to a panel of representatives from JRF and the Guardian plus industry experts during Doc/Fest 2018. The pitch will take place in front of a live audience of Festival Pass Holders and be followed by 1:1 meetings with the decision-making panellists. Filmmakers selected to pitch will be given the opportunity to prepare their presentation with a professional pitching coach. 
The short documentary proposals should engage with the research that the JRF have done with the FrameWorks Institute to find new ways of publically discussing poverty in the UK. See for more information of the Talking About poverty project. 
The JRF are seeking to support films that show the systemic causes and crucially the solutions to poverty, that can act as a counter to the dominant narratives that blame people for their situation or pitch the ‘deserving’ against the ‘undeserving poor’. The documentaries should be about fixing things within the existing economic system as opposed to redistribution of wealth/inequality – in other words, we want film ideas about what is happening to those on the bottom 20% of incomes rather than the gap between rich and poor. 
Proposals should have a sense of timeliness and be related to the news in a tangential way, but should also stand the test of time and remain relevant in years to come. Pitches should be for story-/character- driven films, rather than issue-based documentaries. Films can be in any style, humour is welcome, and we welcome innovative and surprising takes on the subject and style of documentary. The key is that they are accessible and engaging to online audiences. 
To get a sense of the kind of short documentaries that work for the Guardian, watch the films on It is also recommended that you take a look at the Guardian's coverage of poverty for some inspiration.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation x The Guardian Pitch is now closed. Filmmakers selected to pitch will be informed and will have a phone-call with the Guardian and JRF the week commencing 2 April. 
Successful applicants will then be expected to present a public pitch at Sheffield Doc/Fest Monday 11 June.
Click here to apply.
For general queries about this pitch opportunity, please contact
For queries for the JRF, please contact
Full Terms and Conditions
JRF logo   Guardian Logo