IF/Then Shorts & The Redford Center Announce Open Call For Short Documentaries About Nature Connection

Collaboration at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival supports short films centered around restoring and strengthening humanity’s relationship with nature

Aug 25, 2022

The Redford Center and IF/Then Shorts, an initiative of Field of Vision, launch today the IF/Then x The Redford Center Nature Connection Pitch, an open call for short documentary films focusing on humanity’s connection with nature. Selected projects will have the opportunity to participate in a pitch forum and professional development workshop series at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in February 2023. Chosen from a national pool of applicants by industry luminaries and topic area experts, five filmmaking teams will receive a combined $25,000 in production grants, along with career-building training, to share their stories of nature connection and reconnection with the world. 

Building on last year’s robust Nature Access Pitch partnership between IF/Then Shorts and The Redford Center, which saw three projects awarded funding totalling $35,000 at last year’s DOC NYC, this opportunity focuses on supporting filmmakers’ career development and building skills to incorporate impact-driven storytelling into their artistic  practice. 

The IF/Then x The Redford Center Nature Connection Pitch again champions short documentaries highlighting the vast benefits that time outdoors can contribute to individual, community, and environmental health. This call for entries seeks impactful stories of leaders, activists, and communities paving the way for creative and equitable solutions that reconnect individuals and communities with nature and the outdoors.The opportunity celebrates storytellers and stories that spotlight the physical, mental, spiritual, and social benefits of restoring and strengthening humanity’s relationship with the natural world. 

“The rhythms and pressures of our fast-paced, modern-day culture—that revolves around keeping up with schedules, screens, safety, and basic survival—has us functioning more and more like an indoor species and has disconnected us from the natural world. Many of us don’t realize how deep this disconnection runs, or how detrimental it is to our personal and community health and wellbeing,” added Redford Center Executive Director, Jill Tidman. “Just 20 minutes a day outside can be transformative, and storytelling has a big role to play in guiding us toward the necessary cultural shift that our minds, bodies, communities, and future generations need to not only survive but thrive.”

When asked about the collaboration, IF/Then Co-Director Merrill Sterritt stated, “After such a successful initial partnership last year, we are elated to embark on this evolution and expansion on our work with The Redford Center, who match our commitment to the strength of short documentaries in sharing ideas, engaging new audiences, and creating change.” Co-Director Caitlin Mae Burke added, “Returning to Big Sky, our longstanding pitch partner, is also such a joy and a wonderful chance for the selected projects to take advantage of their exceptional assemblage of filmmakers and industry. We can’t wait to see the unique stories of nature connection and singular storytellers working in short-form non-fiction from diverse communities across the U.S. that this opportunity engages.”

The program is open to original, stand-alone documentary shorts in production and up to five projects will be selected to participate in the live, in-person event during Big Sky Documentary Film Festival this February. Each filmmaker will participate in impact campaign planning and tailored pitch training workshops before pitching their films to an esteemed panel of industry leaders, filmmakers, and environmental experts. All selected projects will receive a $5,000 production grant to continue the development of their proposed project.

The IF/Then x The Redford Center Nature Connection Pitch is open to individuals living and working in the United States, with an emphasis on stories and storytellers representing communities most impacted by environmental injustice and barriers to nature access, including Black, Indigenous, people of color, LGBTQIA+ individuals, immigrants, undocumented people, people with disabilities, and women. Submissions should be in the form of character-driven, place-based, community-inspired, short form storytelling that showcases immediate solutions to cope with humanity’s disconnection with the outdoors. 

To meet eligibility requirements, projects must be an original documentary with a duration of 10-30 minutes, follow best practices in documentary ethics, authentically represent the story featured in the film, designed for a U.S. audience, and be presented in English or have English subtitles.

The application portal is currently open and will close on October 3, 2022, at 11:59 PM PST. For more information or to submit a project, please visit


IF/Then Shorts is a program of Field of Vision. With a focus on breaking systemic and structural barriers to access, IF/Then amplifies regional, community-centered stories and supports non-fiction filmmakers through a combination of project grants, substantial mentorship, industry consultations, editorial feedback, filmmaker advocacy, and multi-platform distribution support.

Since its inception in 2017, IF/Then has supported 70+ U.S. and international short documentary projects through pitch competitions at renowned film festivals and open calls for labs and residencies around topics of economic inclusion, climate change, nature access, and migration.IF/Then partners with funders, distributors, film festivals, and industry experts to amplify artistic, regional narratives from storytellers who demonstrate authentic and relevant connection to the lives and communities they depict onscreen.

Many IF/Then-supported projects have achieved prestigious festival premieres, awards, and extensive media broadcasts on platforms such as New York Times Op-Docs, Al Jazeera English, PBS REEL SOUTH, POV Shorts, Criterion Channel, Cathay Pacific Airlines, Netflix, and more.


Co-founded in 2005 by Robert Redford and his son James Redford, The Redford Center is a nonprofit organization that advances environmental solutions through the power of stories that move. Over the years, The Redford Center has produced three award-winning feature documentaries and more than 40 short films, supported more than 100 film and media projects with grants and other services, inspired the creation of more than 550 student films, and dispersed more than $10 million to fiscally sponsored projects. Redford Center films and impact campaigns have halted the construction of dirty coal plants, restored the Colorado River Delta, reconnected people to nature, and helped accelerate the clean energy revolution and clean transportation solutions in communities across America. For more information, visit  


IF/Then Contact
Layla Hancock Piper 

The Redford Center Contact
Cait Fitzwater