Program Manager Iyabo Boyd shares some last-minute tips for our 2015 Accelerator Lab Open Call

The deadline for the 2015 Accelerator Lab Open Call is fast approaching. Applications are due this Wednesday, June 10, 2015, by 5:00 PM EDT. 

If you’re only just getting started on your application, don’t worry – we’ve compiled the below tips to help you get up to speed fast:

Overview: For those of you that want a full breakdown of this whole process, please review our Grants page and Frequently Asked Questions, both of which provide very helpful and thorough information. If you still have questions, please email info@chickeneggpics.org with your project title in the subject line.

Funding and mentorship: This Open Call for funding is the process that determines which films will be selected for our 2015 Accelerator Lab. If you are selected to receive a grant, you will also participate in the lab, which is a year long intensive mentorship program (with possibility for extension). It is not a goal of the lab for the films to be completed in that year; that is the length of time you’ll spend with us receiving mentorship. The lab will be structured around 3 to 4 retreats that the granted directors are required to attend, with travel support from us. The lab will be more intensive and tailored than our past mentorship programs, but if you want some insight on our mentorship style in general, take a look at our mentorship page or our blog.

First- or second- time filmmakers: When we say first- or second- time filmmaker, we’re talking specifically about your experience as a director or co-director of feature-length documentaries. You are still eligible if you’ve already made a few shorts, or done fiction work, we’re looking for directors who are making their first or second feature-length documentary. By feature length, we mean 40 minutes or more. Read more about this in our Frequently Asked Questions.

Early production: For this round, we’re only accepting projects between development and early-production (with no more than 40% of the footage shot) because we want to ensure that we have the greatest opportunity possible to make an impact on the film and on your development as the director. If you’re having trouble figuring out what percentage you’ve shot, think about the big picture of your finished film, where you are now, and what you need to do to get to that finished project. What do you have in the can, and how much more shooting do you think you have left to do? That’s how you’ll assess if you’ve reached the 40%. We’re not keeping count, but we hope you’ll respect the guidelines and be honest with yourself when considering applying.

Work samples: In a nutshell, the short work sample should grab our attention and show the project’s potential; the long work sample should give us a deeper sense of your directorial style, characters, and pacing of the film; and the prior work sample should tell us about your experience and your ability to follow through. The short and long samples should consist of pieces of the project with which you’re currently applying, whereas the prior work sample is from a different film you’ve worked on in the past.

No footage shot yet: We have a strict requirement of at least 7 minutes of footage for applicants. If you can, shoot something quickly before the deadline or maybe ask your subjects to shoot some verite or interview of themselves for you, but only if you think it will be good enough to represent your project in our review process. We do not accept unsolicited updates, so the application is the only opportunity for you to show us what you have. If it doesn’t seem you can get it all together before the deadline, it might not be the right time for you to apply for this round.

Parting shots: Here are a few last items to keep in mind:

    • For this round we are not accepting interactive projects or series. Stay tuned for announcements on an upcoming program geared toward these formats in 2016. Join our mailing list, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
    • If you’re unsure what makes a documentary a hybrid, check out this great article from the POV blog. Please also note that just because your film is based on a true story, that doesn’t mean it’s automatically a hybrid.
    • For guidance on the written application, be sure to look at the help text on the right side of each question. Please also note that the word count for many of the essay based questions is 2300 characters, including spaces. Trust us, brief is better.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, send an email to info@chickeneggpics.org. Be sure to include the name of your project in the subject line.

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