Propose a Project

We produce and distribute all our projects regardless of format (short or feature-length documentary, animated film, or interactive work) or of production model (100% funded by the NFB, co-production, or partnership).

How do I submit my project ?

Before sending us your project proposal or idea, please visit the Our Projects section to get a better idea of our work at the regional and national levels, the kind of content we create, and the works currently in the pipeline.

Next, find the contact information of the production unit that produces your type of project (documentary, animated work) in the relevant language, and write to them directly to establish initial contact. Each unit has its own project submission requirements, so before preparing your proposal, make sure your project meets the relevant unit’s requirements. Please know that we are always eager to work with new voices, so whether you are an emerging artist or a mid-career or established creator, we encourage you to send us your ideas.

What do I include in my proposal?

While you may communicate with a studio to discuss an idea, we recommend that you first send a discussion document. This should generally include the following:

I am a creator

  • Project synopsis (eight lines maximum);
  • Summary (1 to 3 pages) describing the story/subject, the creative approach and point of view. Why do you want to tell this story?* What is your point of view?;
  • Overview of the intended audience. Who will this project interest? What impact are you trying to make with the project?;
  • CV (including filmography) and samples of or links to previous work;
  • For animated films: a portfolio of representative samples of your artwork;
  • For interactive works: a description of the user experience, the platform(s) to be used and (if applicable) relationship between them, how they will serve your subject and its treatment, expected technology requirements, and a description of the levels of user engagement;
  • Key project details (expected runtime, format, genre, platform, etc.) and current stage of project (preliminary research or development).

*Please note that for projects that treat Indigenous topics, we only accept projects led by Indigenous creators.

I am a co-producer (Canadian or international)

  • General information about the production company and brief CVs of the filmmaker or creator and any key partners who are or expected to be involved;
  • Summary (1 to 3 pages) describing the story/subject, how it will be presented, the creative approach, and the point of view. What is the reason for telling this story?* What is the point of view?;
  • For animated films: a portfolio of representative samples of the artwork;
  • Overview of the target audience. Who is it for? What platform are they likely to view the work on? How will the work be relevant to them?;
  • Budget and financing structure, including major funding sources (confirmed or anticipated) and agreements indicating that the production house holds the production rights;
  • Key project details (expected runtime, format, genre, platform, etc.) and current stage of project (preliminary research or development).

*Please note that for projects that treat Indigenous topics, we only accept projects led by Indigenous creators.

When is the best time to submit my project?

We accept project proposals throughout the year. Each unit is responsible for acknowledging receipt of every submission. After the initial acknowledgement from the unit, you may be asked for more information. Following that, within 8 weeks, you will receive a response to your proposal. We encourage you to submit your ideas in the early stages of your creative process. In the initial meetings, NFB producers will describe how the NFB works and the various ways creators can collaborate with us.

What are the considerations that influence the NFB’s programming decisions?

We are looking for projects that break ground in both form and content. Projects can be documentaries, animated films or interactive works (including VR projects, mobile content, or immersive and participatory experiences). We care deeply about the concept of the auteur, the craft of storytelling, experimentation, artistic excellence and innovation. We’re open to trying new things, exploring possibilities and taking risks.

In our early discussions with creators, we’re looking to see if the project fits with the objectives of the NFB and of the studio it was submitted to. To maintain balance across the entire organization and within our studios, programming decisions hinge around (but are not limited to) the following considerations:

1. Originality: strength of story or concept, intention, and approach

  • Strength of proposed story or concept. Does the story reveal a unique world? How is the subject relevant or important today?
  • Relationship between intention and execution.
  • Intention
    • How does the project tie into your personal and artistic approach?
      • This question relates to creative skills or skills development; creative risk-taking and innovation; the artist’s ability to work collaboratively and outside their comfort zone; adaptable, malleable work processes or methods that may at times differ from industry standards or conventions.
    • Why are you the best person to make this project?
    • What are the creative motivations driving this project?
    • What questions do you hope to raise with the work?
  • Approach
    • Is the form suitable for answering the questions being asked? Are the questions being asked answerable in a cinematic way? Through narrative? Might they be better approached and engaged through interaction?
    • Is the approach dynamic? Innovative? Does it interrogate previous statements or projects on the subject? As a public producer, we are keen on the idea of challenging industry conventions and working in ways that might not be possible in more mainstream or commercial contexts.
    • How does the form connect and engage with the intended audience?
  • Other considerations for interactive and animation projects
    • Interactive
      • How does the interaction enhance the subject or story?
      • Where story, user experience and technology intersect, how is the experience innovative?
    • Animation
      • What is the strength of the narrative or experimental aspect of the proposal?
      • What are the techniques and aesthetic approaches used and how do they complement the story?

2. Audience and impact

On the production side, in conjunction with our marketing and distribution teams, the following questions help us assess potential audiences and the project’s impact:

  • What is the film’s core audience? What are your expectations of them, particularly in terms of shifting perspectives but also of artistic relevance? Does the work have the potential to be a catalyst for change? What do you imagine the audience will talk about after experiencing your work?
  • How are the work’s form and your approach connected to the impact or engagement you hope to create?
  • Are there opportunities for unique partnerships that will heighten the project’s impact with communities?
  • What do you want the user or viewer to gain from the experience? What will they remember after it is over?

3. Community representation and relationships

  • What is your access and connection to the community that your story is about? Tell us about your role as a creator in the community, your relationship-building and community-engagement processes. How are you seeking to promote the safety and well-being of those involved in your project?
  • Working with Indigenous collaborators and communities. The NFB has a long and deeply rooted connection with Indigenous cinema, including one of the largest collections of Indigenous films in the world. Even so, we are continuously transforming and evolving our ways of working with Indigenous collaborators and communities, inspired by the recommendations in On-Screen Protocols & Pathways: A Media Production Guide to Working with First Nations, Métis and Inuit Communities, Cultures, Concepts and Stories, a document commissioned by imagineNATIVE and written by Marcia Nickerson.
  • Please see the “Equity and Representation” section for more about our engagements and commitments towards racial and Indigenous equity as well as gender parity.

4. Geographic location

Geographical representation (of filmmakers, topics, or subjects) is inherent to our mandate of telling stories “from coast to coast to coast.” We recognize that stories are born out of the inextricable and generational connection between people and the land in communities across the country, and representing diverse geographies is a vital component of our programming. The NFB is uniquely positioned to produce works in a great many regions and to ensure representation of the voices within them, including voices outside of large cities.

5. Feasibility

  • What is the form of the work being proposed (short or feature documentary, animation, interactive or immersive) and how does the story, theme or concept relate to the programming currently underway at the NFB?
  • Every unit has a set budget allocation for the year, which factors into its decisions, along with the specific needs of all proposed projects. Allocating resources to overlapping, multiyear works also influences the kinds of projects we are able to take on and when we are able to take them on.
  • With project budget in mind, is there an opportunity to secure additional resources or build capacity through co-production? This is not merely a question of funding but also of building relationships and partnerships within the communities and regions that are important to the project.
  • Does the studio have the capacity to take on your project? Many NFB projects involve extensive travel, both within and between provinces. We also frequently work in rural or remote regions, so having sufficient resources to meet the project’s requirements is another concern.

What role does the NFB play in my project?

As the work’s producer, we collaborate with you throughout the creative process, from preliminary development to production to distribution. The NFB’s production culture is rooted in a unique blend of art and public service.

Every creative team brings its own drive, aesthetics and concerns to the projects it takes on. The production teams are experienced at accommodating creators’ direction and vision, while helping to frame and guide the work. We push directors and their teams to outdo themselves and offer critical feedback. We’re heavily invested in the artist’s intention and shepherd projects over multiple years, from the earliest research phases to the project’s launch into the world.

If you decide that you would like the NFB to be the sole producer on the project, the NFB retains 100% of the copyright and also holds the distribution rights to the completed project. As a public distributor with a significant audio-visual collection, the NFB ensures the continued visibility and accessibility of these productions for generations to come. Please visit Co-Produce with Us for more information on other forms of collaboration.

What does a project’s development process consist of?

For all projects, creators have access to top-notch technical services that support, guide and enhance the creative process. Creators are compensated across every phase of production. Development phases will vary according to form and studio-specific methods. Please see the project phases for an NFB project to better understand this process.

What is a project’s approval process?

1. Production unit approval

Each unit is overseen by an executive producer (EP), who defines that unit’s strategic programming vision and how it is executed, while respecting the NFB’s overarching goals. Producers and EPs receive and review proposals and have autonomy to make programming decisions based on a budget allocated to them.

Decisions made by studio EPs

  • Approve a project, determine whether a pre-development “investigate” phase is needed, or whether it can go straight to development (see Journey of an NFB Project section for details about the NFB’s development phases).
  • Determine whether a project is ready to be greenlit.
  • Maintain a balanced slate both within the studio and in relation to the Programming | Creation, Distribution and Marketing division’s Programming Vision. This includes a balance between filmmaking experience (emerging, mid-career, experienced), budgets, formats, geographical representation, gender parity, diversifying perspectives and topics covered. See the complete list of projects under development and production per unit here.

Number of projects accepted per year

The number and types of projects accepted vary from one year to the next because projects tend to extend beyond a given fiscal year, creating a rich and personalized production environment.

2. Greenlight by the NFB’s Programming | Creation, Distribution and Marketing division

When the creative team and executive producer deem a project to be ready, it is presented to the Director General of the NFB’s Programming | Creation, Distribution and Marketing division for final approval. A “green light” authorizes the project to begin production and is based on the examination of a supporting project development file. The team that assessed the project at the start of the development phase meets again to verify that the studio is making the most of the programming considerations and has ensured that all facets of the project (artistic, creative, technical, etc.) are ready for production. Final approval releases the funds required to go to production.

Other useful resources

See the documents below for more information about our commitments and programming strategies.

Strategic Plan

Action Plan

Indigenous Action Plan

DEI Plan – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

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