Our programs support women* nonfiction filmmakers at various stages in their careers.

If you are a first- or second-time feature-length film director, check out our (Egg)celerator Lab. We are now accepting applications for the 2020 (Egg)celerator Lab open call. The application deadline is Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at 3:00 pm EDT.

We currently do not accept unsolicited applications for our Chicken & Egg Award.

We support filmmakers from diverse backgrounds who are both committed to social change and to the art and craft of filmmaking. When we choose a project, it is because we believe the film needs to be made–and that the particular filmmaker is the one to make it. Our grantees have unique access to their subjects, a collaborative spirit, and the courage to take creative risks. When choosing a project, we look for:

  • Storytelling: Original story, tone, style, and structure
  • Diversity: In all its forms
  • Innovation: Filmmakers with unique voices and projects that take risks
  • Vision: A new perspective on an issue, special access into the story, and the ability to make the universal accessible and personal
  • Craft: Inextricable links between story and production value
  • Resonance: Timely, urgent, or compelling issues at stake

Completing and launching a documentary takes grit, nerve, and creativity; it also takes money, connections, and time. We offer women directors the tools to realize the full potential of their projects, both as works of art and as catalysts for change. Each of our programs represents a pivotal intervention in a woman’s filmmaking career; through them, we empower women storytellers to direct their own careers.

*Chicken & Egg Pictures supports self-identifying women (cis or trans) and gender nonconforming individuals.

Please sign up for our newsletter to receive updates on programs.

(Egg)celerator Lab

We are now accepting applications for the  2020 (Egg)celerator Lab open call.  The application deadline is Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at 3:00 pm EDT.


The (Egg)celerator Lab (formerly the Accelerator Lab) is focused on identifying and supporting nonfiction directors working on their first or second feature-length documentary. This program brings together ten projects, with a special focus on self-identifying women and gender non-conforming directors.

In this year-long program, these ten projects will receive:

  • $35,000 in grant funding for the production of their feature-length film;
  • monthly mentorship with members of Chicken & Egg Pictures’ senior creative team;
  • three creative retreats focused on career sustainability and creative development;
  • industry meetings and funder connections; and
  • peer support from the (Egg)celerator Lab cohort.

The Chicken & Egg Pictures (Egg)celerator Lab for first- and second-time directors is generously supported by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the MacArthur Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the NDL Foundation, the Time Warner Foundation, and The Whickers.

Scroll down to view both the current cohort and past cohorts of the Chicken & Egg Pictures (Egg)celerator lab.


  • Funding & Mentorship: Chicken & Egg Pictures has an established model of providing strategic funding and mentorship in ways that maximize that support. The (Egg)celerator Lab ratchets up this successful model, helping filmmakers meet their goals faster and with more intensive support.
  • Retreats: Mentorship is the focus of the three intensive retreats held during the program that grantees will be required to attend. Mentorship is aimed at helping grantees to make strides as artists, storytellers, and movement builders; giving deep, direct insight on grantees’ individual projects to release the most successful film possible; and providing grantees with the tools to parlay all of that growth and experience into a sustainable career.
  • Industry Meetings and Funder Connections: Grantees will have the opportunity to build industry and funder connections.
  • Peer Support: Participants benefit from the knowledge and experiences of their peers as part of a vibrant community of shared ideas and mutual support.

Guidelines & Criteria

Guidelines for the 2020 (Egg)celerator for first- and second-time directors:

  • Project Type, Length, and Production Status: This current open call is geared only toward nonfiction feature length films. Projects must be currently in early production (at least 10% of their footage shot) or up to mid-production (no more than 60% of their footage shot) by the date of application. Projects must be aiming toward feature length films. (See FAQ for details on length requirements.) Note: The program will take place from February to December 2020. If you are planning to have a rough cut by the end of 2019 or by the first quarter of 2020, your project is too advanced and not eligible to apply.
  • Subject Matter: We’re passionate about films that address the global justice, human rights, and environmental issues of our time. While we prioritize films that focus on social issues, having a social issue in the film is not explicitly required. Personal stories are eligible.
  • International Applications: International filmmakers are encouraged to apply.
  • Fiscal Sponsor: Please note that if you are accepted into the program, you must arrange to be represented by a US 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor. This applies to both US-based and international filmmakers. You do not need to have a fiscal sponsor secured at the time of the application. See our FAQ below for a few examples of 501(c)(3) organizations that offer fiscal sponsorships to filmmakers.
  • Not accepted: Through the (Egg)celerator Lab, we do not support:
    • Fiction Films
    • Short Films
    • Student Projects
    • Transmedia Projects
    • Engagement/Outreach Campaigns
    • Projects which relate to influencing, directly or indirectly,  a political campaign for public office in the US and internationally
  • Please check our FAQ before contacting us with questions about the application process.

Current Cohort


We are now accepting applications for the  2020 (Egg)celerator Lab open call. The application deadline is Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at 3:00 pm EDT. Please sign up for our newsletter to receive updates on the (Egg)celerator Lab open call timeline.

  • Start an application for the 2020 (Egg)celerator Lab. NOTE: You will be emailed a log-in and password once you’ve completed this form.
  • Continue your application for the 2020 (Egg)celerator Lab. NOTE: You can only access this portal once you’ve received a log-in and password.  
  • Download application questions for the 2020 (Egg)celerator Lab.

Application Checklist

Application Checklist

Filling out the Online Application

We recommend you go through the application questions well in advance of the deadline to prepare your answers, review the length requirements, and gather the requested links and documents.

  • Download application questions for the 2020 (Egg)celerator Lab.
  • Start an application for the 2020 (Egg)celerator Lab. NOTE: You will be emailed a log-in and password once you’ve completed this form.
  • Continue your application for the 2020 (Egg)celerator Lab. NOTE: You can only access this portal once you’ve received a log-in and password.  


  • Each application must attach a budget top sheet. The system will accept PDF and Excel formats.
  • The budget should address the following costs of the film production: crew salaries, equipment, travel/housing expenses, post-production, office/admin costs, music, legal fees, etc. We should be able to follow your budget in tandem with your narrative material.
  • Please be sure to include a line item for directors’ and producers’ salaries; we believe that it is key for filmmakers to factor in their own payment in the budget.
  • We strongly encourage you to read this comprehensive Introduction to Documentary Budgeting article and download the Sample Budget Template to follow budgeting best practices.

Fiscal Sponsorship

A fiscal sponsor is a 501(c)(3) organization that shares its tax-exempt status with individual filmmakers, meaning that you are able to accept charitable grants. In exchange for this service, they may take a percentage of the incoming funds.

Applicants do not need to have a fiscal sponsor in order to apply. However, they must have one in order to receive a grant. You do not need to have a fiscal sponsor secured at the time of the application. 

A few examples of 501(c)3 organizations that offer fiscal sponsorships to filmmakers:

Application Fee

The application fee is $35. This fee must be paid for the submission to be complete.

  • The fee is payable by credit or debit card.
  • You will receive a receipt by email.

Work Sample

To apply for a grant, you must submit a current work sample. Second-time directors must submit a prior work sample of the first feature-length film they directed. First-time directors can submit an optional short nonfiction film as a prior work sample or a film in which the applicant played a prominent role. Please see the FAQ for complete details about work samples, but, in summary, every application requires a:

  • Current project sample (7-20 minutes) of the project with which you’re applying;
  • Prior work sample (no length limit) of a film that the applicant either previously directed or in which they played a prominent role. This is optional for first-time directors and mandatory for second-time directors. Please see the FAQ for details on how this requirement affects first-time directors.

All work samples must be in English or have accurate English subtitles onscreen.


Programs FAQs

Who can apply?

Anyone can apply. Men filmmakers are encouraged to partner with a woman or gender nonconforming co-director.

Does Chicken & Egg Pictures support political films?

As a 501(c)(3), Chicken & Egg Pictures is not able to support films or projects relating to influencing, directly or indirectly, a political campaign for public office in the US or internationally, regardless of timing of release of the film.

If you are unsure about your film’s eligibility based on the above, you can email us at with a description of your film project.

Does the (Egg)celerator Lab use the Documentary Core Application?

Since 2017, Chicken & Egg Pictures has opted into the Documentary Core Application. Our hope is that your responses to these questions will result in material that may be used for additional applications as you move forward with your fundraising. To learn more about the Documentary Core Application project, visit the IDA website.

What if we are co-directors and one of us is a first-time director, but the other has made more than two feature-length films?

Co-directing teams with one first- or second-time co-director and one more experienced co-director are allowed to apply, but priority will be given to first- and second-time filmmaking teams. Please note that the prior work sample of co-directing teams that consist of a first- or second-time director and a more experienced director must be representative of the first- or second-time director’s experience.

How much are your grants?

Grants for the (Egg)celerator Lab will be up to $35,000 for each chosen film. The grants will be disbursed in installments throughout the program, beginning in March/April 2020, with further installments tied to agreed-upon deliverables and deadlines.

How do you define first-time filmmakers? How do you define second-time filmmakers?

We define a first-time filmmaker as someone who has never completed a feature-length documentary film. An applicant still qualifies as a first-time filmmaker if they have made multiple shorts or a web series. We don’t consider anything less than 50 minutes to be a feature-length film. We consider anything over 50 minutes to be a feature-length film.

We define a second-time filmmaker as someone who has not completed more than one feature-length documentary film.

What production stages are eligible?

To be eligible for the (Egg)celerator Lab, applicants must be between early-production and mid-production, with no less than 10% and no more than 60% of their footage shot by the date of the application deadline. We’re only accepting projects between these stages because we want to ensure that we have the greatest opportunity possible to make an impact on the production of the project and on the development of the director’s career during the 2020 program year.

Note: The program will take place from February to December 2020. If you are planning to have a rough cut by the end of 2019 or by the first quarter of 2020, your project is too advanced and not eligible to apply.

How do you define feature-length?

We consider feature-length films to be projects over 50 minutes, including those that may be aiming for a PBS hour (56:40), or a classic feature-length (over 72 minutes). Combined web series or any shorts that could be counted as a feature when added together do not qualify as feature-length for this Open Call.

What if I have previously made a feature-length fiction film, but this is my first feature-length nonfiction film?

If you’ve made one or more feature-length fiction film(s) but no feature-length nonfiction film(s), you are eligible to apply as a first-time filmmaker (see our definition for first- and second-time filmmakers).

If I applied in the past but my project was not selected, can I reapply?

If the director is a first- or second-time filmmaker, and if the project has still not shot more than 60% of its footage, past applicants may apply again. We urge you to consider how your project has evolved since your last submission, and to clearly state how that progress is evident in both your proposal and current work sample.

Note: The program will take place from February to December 2020. If you are planning to have a rough cut by the end of 2019 or by the first quarter of 2020 your project is too advanced and not eligible to apply.

Can I apply with more than one project?

Please only apply with the one project that you feel is the best fit for Chicken & Egg Pictures. Read our guidelines and look at the films we have supported to get an idea of our interests. If you really cannot choose between two projects, you can email us at with a short description of both films and ask for our advice (this advice will not impact your application). Always include your project title name(s) in the subject line of your email.

If I’ve received a grant from Chicken & Egg Pictures in the past, can I reapply?

Those who are first- or second-time filmmakers, and who are still in early or mid-production and haven’t shot more than 60% of their footage, may apply for this funding round. If you have completed a project that received a grant from Chicken & Egg Pictures but still qualify as a first- or second-time filmmaker and are beginning a new film, you are welcome to apply.

How many applications receive funding?

The (Egg)celerator Lab will fund ten applications: a combination of first-time and second-time filmmakers.

What if I can’t afford the application fee?

Please contact, with the subject heading “(Egg)celerator Lab Application Fee Waiver Request” for further information.

I have not shot anything yet for my proposed project. I have a great idea, a character, and access. How can I apply?

Projects in the early production stage are eligible. At least 10% of shot material is required. No matter what stage of the project, filmmakers are required to submit at least seven minutes of edited footage to apply. Second-time filmmakers must submit a previous work sample. 

What work samples do you require for the application?

All applicants must submit:

  1. A sample of the project with which they’re applying;
  2. A prior work sample is obligatory for second-time filmmakers and optional for first-time filmmakers. Second-time filmmakers must submit a sample from their first feature-length film.

See below for details about these different kinds of work samples.

Current Project Samples should run between 7-20 minutes and can consist of a trailer, 2 or 3 scene selects or excerpts, or a combination of a trailer and scene selects.

  • IMPORTANT NOTE: Since we’ll be looking at your ability to construct a story, we encourage first-time filmmakers to ensure that their work samples include constructed scene selects/excerpts.

Prior Work Samples (no length limit) of a film that the applicant either previously directed or in which they played a prominent role, if applicable for first-time filmmakers and mandatory for second-time filmmakers. The purpose of a prior work sample is to give us a sense of the director’s visual style, storytelling ability, ambition, and ability to follow through. Prior work sample must be documentary, hybrid of fiction and nonfiction, or other forms of nonfiction. The sample can be a feature-length film or in short format, including web series, animation, or experimental. Fiction work, music videos, commercial work, and PSAs are not accepted as prior work sample. We understand the creative value of this work but, because of its nature, it does not allow us to see your author’s voice and vision as a documentary filmmaker. First-time filmmakers may submit previously directed work that is not a feature-length film but this must still be documentary, hybrid, or other form of nonfiction, such as web series, animation, or experimental. If none of this is available, you may submit a work sample from a separate project in which you held a prominent creative role in the production, such as producer, A.D., cinematographer, or editor. Please be sure to describe your role in the creation of the completed work submitted. Note that samples of work directed by you are strongly preferred over samples of work where you held a prominent role but did not participate as director or co-director.

  • Second-time filmmakers must submit a prior work sample of a completed film on which they served as director or co-director.
  • Co-directing teams that consist of a first-time/second-time filmmaker and a veteran filmmaker must submit a prior work sample from the first-time/second-time filmmaker.

All work samples must be in English or have accurate English subtitles onscreen.

Here are a few important technical notes to keep in mind when submitting your work samples:

  • All work samples must be accessible via a downloadable URL (Vimeo, YouTube, or private hosting site). You must provide us with a link and password to review the sample.
  • Please test your links and passwords and make sure they play all the way through the samples. Please also make sure your links will stay live and be accessible through December 2019.
  • We prefer that you submit using a link and password, but if you are absolutely unable to submit online, you may email, with “DVD submission request” and your project title in the subject line to request permission.

Some notes on trailers, character strands, scene selects, and raw footage:

  • Trailers: Trailers can often be slick, fast, and energetic, and may not give us an accurate sense of your film’s tone, character development, or story structure. If you’re submitting a trailer, we encourage you to also attach a couple of additional scenes to give us more of a chance to experience your style and get a feel for your characters, access, relationship to the material, and narrative arc.
  • Character strands: If you’ve been following a character over time and want to show their evolution or development, you might want to string together scenes that show the character’s progression. A character strand doesn’t require formal transitions or the scenes to be interwoven with others, but it should demonstrate a character’s story arc, what makes them unique, and your depth of access to them. Please do this only if the character is your lead and a major part of the story.
  • Selected Scenes/Excerpts: If you are a bit further along, you can send us a selection of edited scenes or an excerpt of an early assembly of the film. These can be edited together consecutively to tell us a part of your story (with transitions), or they can be intercut with black in between (no transitions), to show us the range of your story. Scene selects or excerpts should provide us with a feel for how your story will play out in real time; they should also offer a sense of your tone, pacing, and cinematic language.

What makes a good logline?

A logline is a concise, story-driven description that explains the heart of your project in one or two sentences. Because nearly every film festival, producer, distributor, or other industry professional will want to see one, you should spend time developing a strong logline for your project. A good logline introduces your central character, their world, their goals, and the forces standing in their way. It should be in concert with your title and tagline, and offer a bit of double meaning and mystery that compels the reader to want more.

A few examples from projects funded by Chicken & Egg Pictures:

  • Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry: Can an artist change China? Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry follows two tumultuous years in the life of Ai Weiwei, when he became a superstar, a dissident of the art world, in the headlines, a first-time father, and an online god to tens of thousands of Chinese netizens, all while trying to stay out of prison.
  • Black Out: A literal and metaphorical journey towards enlightenment, Black Out shows how children reconcile their daily lives in Guinea, one of the world’s poorest countries, with their desire to learn.

What makes a good synopsis?

A strong synopsis, like a strong logline, will focus on the heart of the story that drives your project. It will be longer than a logline, but still keep it concise — we recommend sticking to 1 to 2 pages. Your synopsis should give your story a beginning, middle, and end, mentioning key moments where your character or characters encounter particular challenges. It should also mention briefly the broader implications of the personal struggles at stake.

If I am selected for the (Egg)celerator Lab, would Chicken & Egg Pictures request a credit on my film?

The standard credit we’ll request of grantees in the (Egg)celerator Lab will be “In Association with Chicken & Egg Pictures.”

Do you provide feedback on applications to which you do not award grants?

We are a small staff with limited capacity, and cannot provide one-on-one feedback to all applicants. We do provide some feedback for those whose projects are shortlisted. Chicken & Egg Pictures believes wholeheartedly in the importance of feedback, and are constantly searching for ways to offer more support to all our applicants.



  • A Cops and Robbers Story
    Corey Pegues, one of the highest ranking black executives in the NYPD, reveals a few months after retirement…
    More info >
    <p>Corey Pegues, one of the highest ranking black executives in the NYPD, reveals a few months after retirement&#8230;</p>

    A Cops and Robbers Story

  • People’s Hospital
    More info >

    People’s Hospital

  • Enemies of the State
    More info >

    Enemies of the State

  • Accept the Call
    More info >

    Accept the Call

  • Number 387
    More info >

    Number 387

  • Electric Malady
    More info >

    Electric Malady

  • Through The Night
    More info >

    Through The Night

  • Always in Season
    More info >

    Always in Season

  • Reentry (working title)
    More info >

    Reentry (working title)

  • Writing With Fire
    More info >

    Writing With Fire



Chicken & Egg Award

The Chicken & Egg Award (formerly the Chicken & Egg Pictures Breakthrough Filmmaker Award) responds to the reality that only a few women nonfiction directors in the US are able to work full-time as independent storytellers. Despite progress by talented women filmmakers across the country, there are still numerous roadblocks that stand in the way of those filmmakers truly breaking through in the documentary industry. These roadblocks are often tied to gender, race, class, disability, and geography, among other factors.

This program recognizes and elevates five mid-career women* directors with unique voices who are poised to reach new heights and become strong filmmaker-advocates for urgent issues. The award consists of a $50,000 unrestricted grant and a year-long mentorship tailored to each filmmaker’s individual goals. We support these artists in breaking through to the next level of their careers and as they become influential leaders for the issues they are exploring on-screen.

Through this Award, Chicken & Egg Pictures is making a bold investment in women artists, and an equally bold statement about representation and gender equity. We view this as inextricably connected to elevating the critical social justice, environmental, and human rights issues of the day, ensuring that a greater diversity of voices are participating in the storytelling that drives change.

Recipients of the Chicken & Egg Award are chosen through a confidential nomination process. Unsolicited applications are not accepted. Scroll down to view current and past cohorts of the Chicken & Egg Award,

The Chicken & Egg Award is generously supported by the Time Warner Foundation.

*Chicken & Egg Pictures supports self-identifying women (cis or trans) and gender nonconforming individuals.

current cohort


In addition to financial support, the Chicken & Egg Award grantees will participate in a year-long mentorship program that will focus on strengthening their professional infrastructure, increasing their public and industry visibility, and fulfilling their specific personal and creative goals.

This intimate, in-depth mentorship program will address each grantee’s needs and aspirations using a tailored, multi-layered approach. Each grantee will:

  • Work with Chicken & Egg Pictures to define their goals for their year;
  • Brainstorm the best strategy to move her forward in her Award year;
  • Develop specific goals and tactics to accomplish those aspirations, which she will execute during the program year with our support;
  • Have access to a strategic planning coach and an industry support network to build out those tactics and achieve those goals;
  • Participate in group retreats where she will have the opportunity to make connections with veteran filmmakers, industry decision-makers, and fellow Chicken & Egg Awardees; and
  • Contribute to an ecosystem of women filmmakers supporting one another by mentoring one filmmaker from the roster of active Chicken & Egg Pictures grantees.