The Channel 4 First Cut Pitch is back!

A woman with long, blonde hair is stood at a podium in front of a microphone. Beside her five people are sat on chairs, smiling.
Image Credit: Channel 4 First Cut Pitch, Sheffield DocFest 2022 – Image courtesy of David Chang.


The Channel 4 First Cut Pitch is back! Want to get your new documentary in front of Channel 4? Five new directors will have the chance to pitch their 60' film at the First Cut Pitch at our festival this June and one winner will walk away with a commission. Apply by Sunday 2 April 2023.

The Prize

The successful director will receive the following:

  • A 1 x 60’ First Cut commission offer in 2023/24
  • One month fully-paid development and mentorship with an indie (£5,000 development cash) to further develop either your own idea OR the indie’s, paid for by the Channel 4, which supports new talent and creative diversity
  • One week’s NFTS training (plus wages for that week) paid for by the Channel 4, which supports new talent and creative diversity.


The Pitch

Five shortlisted directors will vie to prove that they are ready to take on the challenge of an hour-long, post watershed doc for Channel 4 by presenting a three-minute documentary film that answers an editorial brief set by Channel 4 for this event. These short docs will be a unique opportunity for the directors to showcase their ability to tell a captivating factual story, find and develop great contributors and work effectively in an edit.

Each director will introduce, show, and discuss their films in front of the audience and a panel of executive producers, established directors and Janine Thomas Commissioning Editor for First Cut. Together they will decide – in front of the Sheffield audience - who they think is the most promising director and award the prize at the end of the pitch event.

In the interests of fairness, Channel 4 will support each shortlisted director with a £600 production budget and one day with an editor at a post- house of Channel 4’s choosing to polish their films. The brief will be announced along with the finalists on Thursday 6 April 2023.

We anticipate this will be an in-person live pitching event at the festival, however in the unlikely event that an in-person is no longer possible, we reserve the right to cancel the pitching event.


The Entry Process

Applicants will need to submit an up-to-date CV, answer three questions about their career and their documentary influences and passions and, finally, pitch a First Cut doc idea that they could see broadcast on Channel 4.

The aim of this stage is to understand where applicants are in their career, get a better sense of their documentary sensibilities and assess their understanding of what a Channel 4, post watershed documentary might look and feel like.

Applicants must be available to attend the festival, taking place 14-19 June 2023. If you cannot make this commitment, you are not eligible to enter the pitch competition.

All five finalists will be given a festival day pass to attend on the day of the pitch, and up to £50 towards travel.

For further details and to find out how to apply, click here.

For any queries please email


Who is Eligible?

  • This is not an entry level pitch. A commitment and passion for television documentary needs to be clearly evident and ideally also experience of working in television production at the DV Director/ Senior AP level. You must be UK-based, and be able to take up a freelance placement with a production company of Channel 4's choice.
  • Anyone working within factual television who has not directed their own documentary hour on network television – for clarification this means BBC, (including BBC3), ITV, Channel 4 and Five – is eligible.
  • Because of their house-style nature, those with director credits for single episodes of returnable series such as 24 Hours in A&E may be considered.
  • Directors who have directed hours for a regional broadcaster such as BBC Northern Ireland or Scotland but have not had their film broadcast across a network are also eligible.
  • Recent film school graduates or those from alternative background such as editors or photographers will be considered but they will need to prove their passion and technical skill to the same standard as those who are more experienced or conventional backgrounds.
  • Applicants who are applying for directors’ schemes for other terrestrials should not apply.


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