Guardian Documentaries

Guardian Documentaries

The Guardian are looking to commission short documentaries (15-30mins)... a very exciting opportunity for experienced documentary filmmakers to reach The Guardian's immense global audience!

The brief from the Guardian:

We want contemporary, high production value short documentary ideas that will work online and pull in an audience hungry for brilliant stories they can click on that tell them something new and holds their attention.

We don't want documentaries that are going to be too niche and only play to a few – the projects need to have a strong siren call for a youthful, though not necessarily young audience hungry for information and story.

We want all that within the Guardian's core values of responsible journalism and storytelling and with a genuinely new and surprising journey at the heart of film, bringing new perspectives beyond what the Guardian is already covering in our journalism in all formats.

This opportunity is primarily for new original commissions but we'll consider versions of longer films, as long as you can convince us that the short you're pitching is a stand-alone film, not dependent on the longer documentary, and where the short can be released first, globally on the Guardian website.

We want documentary ideas that are:

  • Fast in the speed of the telling, and not too repetitive or ponderous
  • Contemporary not historical
  • Brilliant storytelling and characters rather than portraits - the doc should be led by a complete story arc or other kind of journey which really pulls you along and completes in 15-3​0 minutes (ideally 20) and where the film has a sense of purpose
  • Led by actuality/action rather than interviews/talking heads, and not entirely observational
  • Are documentary human stories, led by the story - we're unlikely to go for culture, sport or other specialist subject unless it's led by story
  • Relevant globally for the Guardian's large global audience
  • Not something that's been done too much before, whether by the Guardian (in print, video, audio or photo) or by other documentary platforms. We want something that surprises.
  • Look and sound great - the more you can tell us in your pitch about what we'll see on screen as opposed to background to the subject, the better
  • Something you can imagine people without documentary fandom clicking on out of curiosity
  • Ideally features female and other diverse characters and not just men, depending on subject
  • Can have extra material built round them on release as part of a social media and marketing campaign, with a filmmaker keen to be part of that promotional process

We're less into specific stories/subjects and more into pitches for stories that fulfil the above.

We strongly advise any applicants to take a look at previously-made documentaries on for examples of what's worked for The Guardian, as well as what has been previously done.

Please note, this opportunity is for short documentary films rather than news features or news reports.

The proposals do not need to be tied to a news agenda and should still be relevant and watchable in a year's time after release, whilst still feeling relevant and pertinent for the contemporary world.

We're particularly looking for ideas that expertly walk this line between documentary storytelling and journalistic/newsworthy relevance.


The Guardian are looking to commission documentary films and be involved with the shaping of the film.

  • Ideas must genuinely be able to sustain 15-30 minutes, with an ideal length of 20 minutes
  • Single short documentaries, no series or interactive projects
  • All rights must be available for the idea

Budget range:

£10,000 - £14,000


About Guardian Documentaries:

Guardian Documentaries is our project to commission and (occasionally) acquire new documentaries from all around the world for the one of the world's most visited serious online video platforms, The Guardian's global website.

See our trailer here -
Watch our films here -

The Guardian is the world's leading liberal voice, since 1821 and the UK's number 1 trusted news organisation. reaches 155 million unique browsers every month!!


Hiive producers will shortlist and present the best submissions to the Guardian commissioners.

How to apply


If you have already applied directly to the Guardian Documentary team with your project, please do not apply here again.

This is an opportunity suited to experienced documentary filmmakers who can demonstrate examples of completed documentary films.

The Guardian are looking to commission films primarily and be involved in the shaping of the film. On very rare occasions they will acquire completed films, however this is not the remit of this brief.

If you're not already a Hiive member, please hit 'Register' in the top right corner, it's free to join and only takes a few minutes to sign up. (Hiive's a not-for-profit, we're the good guys!!)

Once you're signed up you'll see a red box in the top right corner, hit 'Apply' and fill out the form.

Complete the application form on Hiive and upload a creative treatment explaining your idea, format and production information, creative references, key creative personnel and links to films you've previously made. You must also provide a link to (or upload) a trailer for your film.

In summary to be considered you must:

  • Fill out application form on Hiive
  • Submit creative treatment for your project
  • Provide link or upload a trailer for your film*

*You do not need to have a completed film to apply, the trailer is required to give a taster of your project.

We will be reviewing submissions as they come in, so no need to wait for the deadline to apply!

Please note, the decision process can take some months from the opportunity deadline - so please bear with us! :)


For any questions please use the 'Discussion' space below.

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