Truly CA

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Call for Entries

In the spirit of expanding our commitment to diverse voices and viewpoints, and our belief in the power of independent film to educate, entertain and enlighten audiences, KQED has created an exciting showcases for the best documentary films about the Golden State -- on TV and on the Web.

  • Truly CA: Our State, Our Stories is a TV series airing feature-length documentaries every month on Sundays at 6pm, a new time slot where KQED will highlight independent works.

Truly CA: Our State, Our Stories reaches out to the independent film community throughout the state to find completed or nearly completed feature-length documentaries. KQED will offer these films KQED packaging, closed captioning, inclusion in the series website, promotion, and a modest licensing fee for local broadcast rights. In addition, one or more films in the series may be offered in-kind, completion resources tailored to the needs of each project which may include an online edit and a sound mix.

Season 11 Deadline: We have a rolling deadline for submissions but to be considered for Season 11, your application must be received by December 31, 2014.

Selection Criteria

Truly CA films must be about California in some way -- not just taking place in California. The films must also be primarily shot in California, and preferably made by California's talented, independent, documentary filmmakers.

Our taste is eclectic: we seek films that cover a broad range of topics and filmmaking styles: From political or social issues, to more personal or experimental works. Particular topics of interest include: education, the environment, immigration, the criminal justice system, history, healthcare, and governance -issues explored through the lives of ordinary and extraordinary Californians. In terms of style and format, we consider narrated and non-narrated films, first person or point of view projects, cinema verité work, and news documentaries.

We look for well-crafted stories featuring compelling characters -stories that are provocative, passionate, and unforgettable. Not only do we want well-told stories, we're interested in well-made films, works that are both thought-provoking and eye-opening.


Non-fiction: Only documentary films will be considered. No narrative films, docudramas, or performance pieces.

Independents only: Filmmakers must have artistic, editorial, and budgetary control of their projects, and own the copyright.

Completed or nearly completed works: Submitted works must be completed films, fine cuts, advanced rough cuts, or festival versions. Please note that filmmakers must be willing to commit to on-lining, packaging, and broadcasting their films within 2-6 months of being accepted to the series.

Rights and Releases: Submitted works must have signed appearance releases for anyone appearing in the film before applying to Truly CA. Additionally, all music, photos, and acquired footage must be licensed before applying to Truly CA. Proof of releases and licenses may be required before the Truly CA panel will consider the film.

Length: Submitted rough cuts and fine cuts should be as close to an hour as possible, festival versions may run slightly longer. If a film is selected for the series, filmmakers will be required to cut their projects to a PBS hour (approximately 52-54 minutes) prior to broadcast.

Format: Films shot on a variety of video formats will be considered, including: miniDV, DVCam, film, Betacam, Digital Betacam, HDV, and HDCam.

Funding: All projects must comply with PBS' funding and underwriting guidelines (at

Submission Procedures

Deadline: We have a rolling deadline for submissions but to be considered for Season 11, your application must be received by December 31, 2014.

Application Form: All submissions must include a completed copy of the application form (PDF).

Standard Letter of Release: All submissions must include a signed release letter (found at the end of the application form).

Screening Copies: Please include TWO (2) DVD copies of your film.

Supplementary Materials: Please attach a one page synopsis, a bio or resume, and any relevant reviews or press coverage.

Mailing Address: Truly CA
2601 Mariposa Street
San Francisco CA 94110


Filmmakers are required to grant KQED non-exclusive US public television broadcast rights, covering KQED's digital channels as well as Channel 9. The station also requires non-exclusive promotional and web rights to promote the films and include them on the series web site. All third party material included in the films (archival footage, newspaper or magazine headlines/articles, music, photographs, etc) must be cleared for these same rights. If a Truly CA film is broadcast on any other US public television station or acquired by national public television strands and/or distributors, KQED must be credited as the presenting station.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What kind of films are you looking for?

  • Can I submit a completed or festival version of my documentary, even though it's 72 minutes long?

  • What completion resources do you offer as part of the series?

  • What are the minimum and maximum lengths you'll consider?

  • I have a short documentary film. Do you accept programs less than one hour long?

  • My finished film is approximately 44 minutes. Can I still submit it to Truly CA?

  • Are you looking for completed documentaries?

  • My finished film has already aired on a PBS station. Can I still submit it to Truly CA?

  • Do you accept narrative features?

  • I have an idea for a series on a California subject. I also have an idea involving a performance that takes place in California. Can I submit either of those to Truly CA?

  • Will my deal with a distribution company prohibit me from applying to Truly CA?

  • Who clears the rights to third-party materials in my film, such as archival footage, photos, music and so forth?


Truly CA is a KQED production presented in association with Cal Humanities.

Cal HumanitiesCal Humanities produces and supports cultural experiences through media, literature, discussion and more, to promote a greater understanding of the human condition.

Support for Truly CA is provided by the Members of KQED.

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