Sheffield Doc/Fest is delighted to announce the BBC Three Pitch, which we’re hosting in partnership with the BBC.

Winners: Rebecca Southworth / Ashley Turner

At BBC Three, we are passionate about:

  1. identifying and championing emerging filmmaking talent in the North and
  2. bringing compelling content and stories rooted in the North to a BBC audience.

BBC Three is also in the unique position that it can commission and broadcast documentaries of different shapes and durations and we welcome ideas that reflect that.

Ideas from pitch applicants can therefore be for both short (up to 30 mins) and long form (up to 60 mins).

As well as targeting directors, we are opening up this year’s pitch to include talent who might not yet be at director level, as long as they have enough relevant filmmaking and production experience (specifics below).


The successful winner will receive the following:
• A BBC commission offer in 2019 for BBC Three. Final documentary length will be determined by the panel depending on suitability of winner’s story and their production expertise.
• Support from a northern-based independent production company who will provide production support to complement the winner’s experience. For those who are not ready to produce and direct the commissioned film themselves, the BBC will ensure that a team is built around them to help them produce the film to the standards required for broadcast.

Criteria for the idea:

This is an open call to submit new film ideas for consideration by BBC Three commissioners. Once applications have been reviewed, we will invite five applicants to pitch to a panel of commissioners and industry representatives in front of a live audience during Sheffield Doc/Fest. The BBC will announce the winning pitch on the day.


At the Sheffield Doc/Fest BBC Three Pitch, five shortlisted pitch applicants will vie to prove that their idea most suits the brief and best appeals to the BBC Three audience. Each applicant will introduce their proposed film idea in front of an audience and a panel of BBC commissioners and industry representatives.

Together the panel will decide – in front of the Sheffield audience – who has the most promising idea with a subject and approach that will really work for the BBC Three audience and award the prize at the end of the session. The decision will be made on the idea that best suits the BBC Three audience.

The pitch winner will be offered a commission to make a film for the BBC with production support from an independent production company based in the north of England.


Applicants will need to submit an up-to-date CV and a one-page summary of their project. The candidate must demonstrate why their project belongs on BBC Three and how it will appeal to a BBC Three audience. Subjects that the BBC Three audience engage with are usually ones that directly affect their lives.

Successful pitches will:
  • Focus on a subject that will appeal to a BBC Three audience
  • Identify contributors who will help bring that subject to life
  • Have a clear idea of what the narrative of the film will be
  • Have, ideally, secured access to the contributors or the organisations which will appear in the film
  • Have a clear idea of the duration and the shape of the film – ideas can be pitched for short form (up to 30 mins) and long form (up to 60 mins)

Applicants for the BBC Three Pitch must be available to attend the pitch event Monday 10 June as part of Sheffield Doc/Fest. If you cannot make this commitment, you are not eligible to enter the pitch competition. All five finalists will be offered a Festival Day Pass, which will give access to all Doc/Fest films, events and sessions on the day. 


The BBC Three Pitch is open to filmmakers living in the following counties: Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, Cumbria, County Durham, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Staffordshire and Leicestershire.

Applicants must either be:

  • A filmmaker who has not yet directed their own documentary for television but does have at least 2 years relevant experience in television production; or
  • A graduate with a film, television or broadcast degree which required some directing or producing as part of the course

The successful filmmaker must be able to start work on the project within 3 months of the pitch.


Applications to the BBC Three Pitch are now closed. 

Full terms and conditions