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 post-production. 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 have had limited screenings and ideally should not have had its festival premiere before the Breakthrough event in October. Informal cast and crew screenings are okay. Please contact us if you have questions about this.

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.  Breakthrough is focusing on more traditional narrative and documentary video works, VR, and screenplays at this time.

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: How many projects are selected in each category?

A: In the past, three projects were selected for each category.

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

A: We aim to send out notifications about a month before the event. 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.

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 (with an image and description) as part of Filmshop's online Breakthrough Marketplace, along with what type of collaborations or support they are seeking. A private 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, in the hopes of fostering additional collaborations.

Also, 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.

Our event also features a pitchfest, during which participants will have 5-minute slots to briefly pitch their project and receive feedback from a panel of industry pros. While you will need to purchase a ticket to attend the event in order to participate, all submitters whose projects are not selected for the showcase will have dibs on signing up for a slot. (Indicate your interest in the submission form.)


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 2017, get in touch with us at breakthrough@thefilmshop.org.

The Event

Q: What happens at the event itself?

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.

Q: Anything else besides the three programming blocks?

The event will also include networking breaks during which attendees can mingle with industry guests, and an hourlong pitchfest. Attendees will be able to sign up for 5-min slots to pitch their project and receive feedback from a panel of industry pros (with submitters whose projects were not selected for the showcase having first dibs on pitching).