Docs In Progress' Documentary Story Development Fellowship Program is targeted for filmmakers who are in the conceptual/development stage of a project.  Through six monthly facilitated meetings, the Story Development Fellowship will receive advice and peer feedback.  Specifically, Fellows will learn how to research, write and develop a new non-fiction film, the nature of fundraising, pitching, and targeting their audience. The documentary can be on any subject, viewpoint, or style; however we require that the project is in development/has not yet begun production. For films further along the production, see our Legacy Fellowship Program.

COHORT MEETING DATES:  6 Tuesdays - 5/23, 6/20, 7/25, 8/22, 9/26, 10/24 from 6:30-9 PM at Docs In Progress offices, Silver Spring, MD.  

FEES:  There is no application fee.  If accepted into the Fellowship Program, Fellows pay a participation fee of $575 (due in full before the program starts).

The submission deadline for the 2023 Fellowship Programs has now closed.


The Story Development Fellowship experience includes: 

  • Accountability: By setting realistic goals for progress and having monthly in person meetings with the facilitator and other participants, Fellows will make significant progress developing their concept into a complete documentary proposal.
  • Expected Deliverable:  A well-written proposal that includes a funding plan and budget for the documentary.
  • Expertise from seasoned industry professionals who as guest presenters will share their knowledge and provide feedback to the Fellows.
  • Safe Zone where constructive advice and feedback is fostered.

Other Benefits for Fellows:

  • A professional development voucher that can be applied to a one-day or one-evening Docs In Progress program during the course of their Fellowship. 
  • Featured as a Fellow on the Docs In Progress website, including a photo and the title of the project.
  • Fellows will receive added consideration for Docs' Trailer Night and Work-In-Progress screenings.
  • Become part of our 90+ Alumni Fellows network at the conclusion of the Fellowship.



The development stage in documentary filmmaking is the initial phase where filmmakers shape their ideas and research into a coherent and compelling story. At this stage, the project is still at a conceptual stage, with core indicators such as:

  1. Filmmakers have not yet started capturing visual or audio elements for their documentary.
  2. Interviews with subjects, experts, or key figures relevant to the topic have not been conducted or recorded.
  3. Projects are in the research stage: The focus is on exploring the subject matter, gathering information, and identifying potential narrative structures and themes, writing a draft of the treatment and proposal, and working on the financial logistics of the project.



This is the first year of our Story Development Fellowship. We encourage both first-time and more seasoned filmmakers to apply. Fellows must agree to not miss more than 1 meeting.

Docs In Progress review committee will review the individual application and assess the overall composition of the cohort in their decision-making. Filmmakers should have a solid idea that they want to develop, specific goals for how the Fellowship will help at their stage, and a willingness to give and receive feedback as part of the cohort. The Docs In Progress Documentary Development Fellowship Program is an incubator where peer-centered discussion is at the forefront.