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Familiarise Yourself with the Application Form: Docs By The Sea Accelerator 2021

Familiarise Yourself with the Application Form: Docs By The Sea Accelerator 2021

March, 29 - 2021

As we navigate through the pandemic, Docs By The Sea family trust that our passion, faith and perseverance will propel us through these unprecedented to better times. Because of that, we would like to remain committed to support the Southeast Asian filmmakers by holding Docs By The Sea digitally this year.

If you happen to be able to continue your project application, here are some more tips to get yourself familiar with this year’s Application Form. We hope you can find the time to gather required materials for your application. But please prioritize the health and safety of yourselves, families and others in your community, always.

Choosing the Lab section

Docs By The Sea Accelerator 2021 offers three intimate labs of Storytelling, Editing, and Creative Producing.

As an applicant, you are obliged to have an on-going project to be eligible to apply to any of the labs.

The Story Development Lab is for projects that are still In-Development or Production stage, while the Editing Lab is for projects that are in the Post-Production stage. The Creative Producing Lab is for Southeast Asian producers who are currently working on a challenging film project — this lab will guide the producers beyond the managerial and administrative aspects, focusing more on the creative and artistic ambitions of a film.

You cannot apply to both Storytelling Lab and Editing Lab as it is almost impossible for one project to have a rough cut while still being in the development or production stage. If you are a Southeast Asian producer applying for the Creative Producing Lab, you can choose whether or not to apply your project to the Storytelling Lab or Editing Lab as well.

You will have to tick one box for your Lab Choice;

  • Creative Producing Lab

Is for an emerging Southeast Asian producer who has an on-going documentary film project

  • Storytelling Lab

Is for a project that is currently researching, spending time with the characters to develop storyline and protagonists in the film

  • Creative Producing Lab & Editing Lab

Is for an emerging Southeast Asian producer who is also applying their documentary film project in the editing stage

  • Creative Producing Lab & Storytelling Lab

Is for an emerging Southeast Asian producer who is also applying their documentary film project in the research, development or production stage

If you choose Creative Producing Lab/ Creative Producing Lab & Editing Lab/ Creative Producing Lab & Storytelling Lab, you will be directed to the Creative Producing Lab section before turning up to the Project Registration section.

If you choose either Storytelling Lab or Editing Lab, you will only be directed to fill out the Project Registration section.

Creative Producing Lab section

The section consists of answering four essay questions and providing filmography as well as portfolio and works sample, showcasing your quality as a producer.

Your answers should reflect your statement as a producer in general and for the film project you are currently working on. Moreover, they should cover your vision, strategy and international distribution plan for the film. The answer to each Essay Question should not exceed 300 words.

The Essay Questions are as follows:

  • How and why did you start as a producer for Southeast Asian documentary project(s)?
  • How and why did you become the producer of this project you are bringing to Docs By The Sea Accelerator? What is your vision for this project?
  • What are the challenges you are facing for this project, especially as a producer working on Southeast Asian documentary project(s)? What are your current strategies to face those problems?
  • How do you see the opportunity for this project in the global market?

You are expected to list all projects and films in which you have participated, the year of release, distribution and achievements.

Portfolio Link
You have to provide a URL link to your works portfolio, the link could be for a website or PDF file. We want to learn all film projects you have worked and/or been working on and get to know you more as a filmmaker.

Works Sample Link
We’d like to watch excerpts from your previous projects, NOT trailers, reels nor raw footages. The excerpts should be 2-5 minutes long each. You can provide them via Google Drive/ Dropbox/ Cloud folder URL link.

After completing the Creative Producing Lab section, you will then be directed to the Project Registration Section.

Project Registration section

This section is where the selection committee gets a thorough understanding and detailed information regarding your film project.

Production Stage
Please state the stage of your project at the time of application, not when Docs By The Sea Accelerator will be conducted. If your project is selected, we will then contact the applicant and ask for updates on the production stage before publishing the catalog.

Development is the earliest stage in filmmaking when you are researching, spending time with your characters to develop your storyline and characters in your film. We advise that you already secured access to the characters before applying your project to Docs By The Sea Accelerator. It means that your character(s) is ready to sign a release to be filmed. No funding can commit to a project that is under-developed; so your research / development should at least show that your character is committed to the project and you know what kind of story you want to tell. The story can always change, but at least in the time of writing the application, your research can lead to one or more potential storylines.

Early Production is when you have just started shooting your documentary while still continuing to develop your story. This stage is marked by the ability to show some footage and bring the audience closer to the story and the protagonist(s).

Production is when you are in the middle of shooting the documentary. The application will not ask for this, but it is possible that an interested financier or potential collaborator will ask you to provide a 20-min sample scene if you are in this stage.

Post-Production is when you have finished production or secured 80% of footage and assembled them into a rough cut. If you are applying for a project in this stage, you will be obliged to provide a rough cut. A rough cut should not exceed 120% of the expected final length of your film. Assemblies of footage and early edits do not constitute a rough cut.

Besides providing the Total Budget and Financing in Place in USD, you are expected to list out all the Funding Sources (if you already have some Financing in Place). We would like to know if your project had attracted or received any funds from grants, personal investment, award, cash prizes, etc.

Total Budget is the total amount that you would need for your project to be completed, from the start throughout the Development stage to the Distribution stage of the film. An important component in the calculation is the filmmaker fee to reflect that all crew will be able to work professionally to complete the film.

Financing in Place is the amount of funds that you have secured at the time of the application. The funding can come from various places such as personal funding, private investors, grants, donations, etc.

Visual Material (All materials should be uploaded in ZIP/ RAR)
You are required to provide a lookbook which is a document filled with images that shows the Director’s vision of what the film will look like. A lookbook can consist of film stills (if any), images of the characters, the location where the film will be shot, references of other films/stills of how the film will look like, color palette, images that describe the mood of the film and more.

Audio Visual Material

You are required to provide a downloadable Audio Visual file via URL Link. The link can contain a teaser, concept/pitch trailer or scene from your film. A strong Audio Visual Material will give the selection committee a sense of how the completed film will turn out, in terms of style, tone, protagonists portrayal, etc. It is essential that the Audio Visual material you provide tells the truth about the project and how it will be told by you as the filmmaker.

Rough Cut Material

If your project is in the Post-Production stage, you will be required to provide a URL link to the rough cut. You can skip this field if your project is in Development, or Production Stage. A rough cut is a draft edit of your film with synced visual and sound including temporary / actual music scoring. By watching the rough cut, the committee has to be able to understand the expected direction and flow of the completed film.

The duration of the rough cut should not exceed 120% of the intended final film length. For example, if you aim for your documentary to be 28 minutes long, your rough cut should be a maximum of 35 minutes, not more. The selection committee will not watch a 4-hour “rough cut” when the intended final length is only 120 minutes.

Logline (Maximum 30 words)

One or two sentences description of the film that best summarizes the key narrative, protagonist and context or location. A powerful logline can hook the reader emotionally and stimulate interest to get to know more about the film.

Example from our past winner:
A conservative mother, schizophrenic daughter, and gay son recounts the intertwinement and divergence of their lives as they welcome a newborn baby to the family.

Synopsis (Maximum 250 words)
The summary of your film plot or narrative. The synopsis should have a more detailed description of your main protagonist — what do they want? Where does the story take place? Why are they pursuing this? How are they pursuing the goal?

Too often this entry is filled with all the background, data, or factual information as essential findings from the development/ research. Unless it will be shown in the film, intertwined with the narrative, or significant to the protagonist’s journey, the background should be put in the Project Description instead.

Project Description (Maximum 1000 words)
This is where you write both the treatment of your film — style and approach of your storytelling, and details on the topic of your film. In this section, you would want to paint your character clearly to the selection committee reading your application. It is more detailed and specific than the synopsis in the previous section.

We have some questions that may help you elaborate your answer:

  • How is the journey of your protagonist presented? What will the audience see on the screen?
  • From what perspective will this story be told?
  • Why is this story important and why does it need to be told now?
  • Why are you and your team the right people telling this story?
  • Why is this story/ perspective different from any other stories on the same subject?

Most importantly, your answer should explain how you will tell the story visually and how you will bring the freshest perspective in the most profound way. You can summarize the historical, socio-political background of the story, interesting contexts, and the backstory of the protagonist, but those elements should not dominate the Project Description. When the Project Description does not show enough clear signs of how the story will play out visually on the screen, it can raise doubts on the feasibility of the project.

How does the COVID-19 pandemic affect the project? What are your calculated plans to ensure health and safety of the protagonist(s) and all crew? (Maximum 300 words)

We’d like to know the challenges you face in realizing the film during these tough times. What have you done to overcome them and what extra steps have you done to prioritize health and safety from planning and budgeting to execution?

Filmmaker’s Profile
Last but not least, the selection committee would like to know the team behind the project. Sometimes overlooked, it’s less impressive when we find the bio to be filled out with a list of achievements or a mini-version of your CV. We’d like to know more of you as a filmmaker and as a person – how you connected with the film, what kind of films you have made, what other things you do related to the project, or any information that can support why this particular project has to be made by you and your team.

Closing Note
We would like to encourage you to spend some time when writing the application. Take your time to get your writer friends to review and edit your answers, to get feedback on the Audio Visual Materials, and to ask for advice before submitting the application. You are also welcome to reach us at if you have any questions

A powerful application is when it can help readers forecast the great potential of the project and the filmmakers behind it.

Good luck and we hope to meet you in Docs By The Sea Accelerator 2021: Digital Edition.