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Neighbour: A BBC World Service - Sundance Institute Collaboration

Please note that entries have now closed. Please see the project schedule below for next steps.

Neighbour is a new opportunity for storytellers.

BBC World Service and Sundance Institute are collaborating on a new, nonfiction radio broadcast and podcast series to launch in 2018. We are seeking creative and ambitious storytelling on the theme of ‘Neighbour’. Through 31 July 2017, we are inviting original, essential and thought-provoking submissions for audio documentary stories and treatments that explore the world as we experience it today.

BBC World Service will fund the production of up to six Projects and the collaboration offers documentary-makers the opportunity to tell stories in the English language for radio broadcast and podcast, with accompanying short-form visual storytelling, on the BBC.

Each funded Project will comprise a half-hour or one-hour audio documentary for radio and podcast together with an accompanying thematically-related 2-4 minute visual story for the BBC’s web and social channels. The short-form visual story may be a film, audio slideshow, animation or any other appropriate form.

Commissioned documentary-makers will share their stories with the BBC’s global audience, currently a weekly reach of 75 million listeners.

Storytellers are invited to email individually or in teams their outline proposals using a template form through 31 July 2017.

The budget for a delivered and rights-cleared half-hour audio project with accompanying visual story is up to £8,000 (approx. $10,200). For an hour-long audio project with accompanying visual story, the budget is up to £13,000 (approx. $16,550).

Projects selected for funding will be decided by a panel from the BBC World Service including Mary Hockaday, Controller BBC WS, Simon Pitts, Commissioning Editor, BBC WS, and Keri Putnam, Executive Director, Sundance Institute, and Tabitha Jackson, Director of the Documentary Film Program at Sundance Institute.

Project Schedule

  • Storytellers are invited to submit the outline proposals to using the Submission Form before 31 July 2017
  • Shortlisted Projects will be notified on or after 14 August 2017 and producers will have until 25 September 2017 to submit to the BBC the final proposals with budget
  • The selection of commissioned Projects will be announced on or after 2 October 2017 with Project delivery by 5 March 2018.

Selection Criteria

Projects will be assessed on the following criteria:

  • The creative and original response to the theme of 'Neighbour'
  • The strength, ambition and relevance of the story
  • The Focus on Audio Storytelling with an Additional Visual Component
  • Confirmed access to contributors
  • The previous track record of producers in the creation of factual audio, film, television, print or online journalism*
  • The story can be successfully realised in the English language – either entirely in English or with a combination of English and translated voiceover.

*Applicants do not need to have made an audio documentary before.

Guidance for Submissions

We recommend that prior to submission producers engage with content from BBC World Service and explore the full range of audio documentary approaches and material. We also recommend exploring our short-form audio slideshows, factual video and experimental work in 360 video, animations and more at