Types of Projects

Q: At what stage should projects be that are still in edit/post?

A: For narrative work, it’s advised that you’ve completed principal photography. Ideally the film or episode(s) being submitted are well on their way through postproduction. For documentary work, you have at minimum a scene assembly, all the way through to a completed film or episode(s).

Q: What about short films? Can I submit a short that's still a work-in-progress?

A: No. Shorts must be completed prior to submission (if your sound mix, color, and titles are still subject to change, that's okay). But please note that your film should not have had its festival premiere before the Breakthrough event in October. Informal cast and crew screenings are okay.

Q: How far along should my screenplay be?

A: Your screenplay must have been through at least one substantive revision. If you have questions about whether to submit, reach out and we’ll figure out what’s best.

Q: My film is not at the fine cut stage yet, should I submit?

A: If you feel the work is at a developed enough stage to benefit from Breakthrough, then we encourage you to consider submitting your project. We are happy to have a conversation with you to help you determine if this year is the best time to submit.

Q: May I update my submission after I’ve already applied?

A: We encourage you to apply once your piece is in the state you want the judges to consider it in. It is not guaranteed that updated cuts will be viewed by the panel.

Q: Can I submit a video or visual installation?

A: Sounds cool. This is, however, probably not the event to best feature that kind of work.  

Q: Are VR projects accepted?

A: Yes. If you’re thinking of submitting something, let us know, and we will help you determine if your piece is appropriate. Get in touch with us at breakthrough@thefilmshop.org.

Q: Do you accept supplementary material?

A: If you are  submitting a work-in-progress (documentary or narrative), or a script for a feature film or series, you will also be asked to submit a 1-page PDF treatment explaining your vision for the full feature film or series. We don't currently accept any other types of supplementary material.

Selection process

Q: How does the selection process work?

A: For each category, an independent jury of industry professionals will review all projects submitted, make their deliberations, and final selections. Note that Filmshop is not involved in selecting works to be featured at the event.

Q: When will I be notified of rejection or acceptance?

A: Probably about a month before the event in late October. We aim to have final selections in place and send out notifications earlier than that, however.

Q: What happens if my project is selected?

A: Your project will be presented at the event, and you are expected to attend and participate in a live Q&A. We will be in touch with details, and a Breakthrough team member will act as your coach to help you prepare.

Filmshop is also partnering with Seed&Spark, who will consider all completed selected projects in the narrative and doc categories for distribution on their platform. Last year, several projects were picked up for distribution. (Participation is of course optional, not required.)

Q: If my project isn't selected for the showcase, how does this event benefit me, and what do I get out of submitting?

A: We're glad you asked! All members submitting work have the option of listing their project as part of Filmshop's online Breakthrough Marketplace, along with what type of collaborations or support they are seeking. A link to this page will be sent to all industry attendees of the event as well as Filmshop's other industry contacts. Recipients will be encouraged to reach out directly to any Filmshoppers whose projects are of interest to them.

Jurors are also encouraged to write recommendations or blurbs for any projects they personally endorse. While this is an optional step, if a juror chooses to write a blurb for your project we will send it to you and you are free to use it as part of your project materials, for applications, etc.

Also in the works for 2018 is a pitchfest event, for which all submitters will have dibs on getting slots. Stay tuned for more info.


Q: If I’m not currently enrolled in a workshop chapter, may I still submit?

A: Yes, if the project was workshopped during one of the seasons indicated. If your project was workshopped before Fall 2016, get in touch with us at breakthrough@thefilmshop.org.

The Event

Q: How will the event itself run?

A: The event is a daylong affair, comprised of two-hour programming blocks in each submission category. Each block will feature three selected projects, as part of a broader conversations between the featured filmmakers and industry luminaries. Further details will be announced in the coming months. Stay tuned.