Level Forward Impact Award

Pilots applying for the Independent Pilot, Digital Short Series, and Late night competitions have the opportunity to opt-in to be considered for the Level Forward Impact Award.

The Level Forward Impact award will be given to the episodic pilot and team who demonstrate, on top of their commitment to creative excellence, a thoughtful, thorough, and deliberate approach to using storytelling as a means of leveling the playing field for Women, Black, Indigenous, Latin, Asian, disabled, LGBTQIA+, geographically, socioeconomically, or otherwise diverse voices who have been historically overlooked, ignored, or exploited. The selected winner will work with Level Forward, an Abigail Disney company, to develop their series, pitch, and work together towards setting it up with a distributor. By rewarding intentional art and process, the Impact Award incentivizes dual value creation – financial and social – as contemporary measures of success. 


The Level Forward Impact Award is awarded to one filmmaker during the 2023 SeriesFest event and is supported by the Royal Bank of Canada. The awardee will receive a $5,000 cash prize.

All submissions will be evaluated by Level Forward.

Submissions will be reviewed according to the following criteria:

  • What story is being told? Why is this story important now, in this moment? How is it being told? 
  • Who is telling this story? Why are you the best person/people to tell it? Are you telling a story about something that has personally impacted you or someone close to you? 
  • How were you able to tell this story? What kind of support system did you have or lack? What non-financial resources did you use? 
  • Who is the audience for this story and what is your connection to that audience? How do you believe you can reach that audience? How do you hope your audience will be impacted by this story being in the world? How might others be impacted by it? 
  • What actions would you like to see taken by audiences because of your story? What partnerships have you made, or would like to make, to advance those actions?
  • How did you identify and build your team? Who is on that team and how do they represent the subject matter, and/or the intended audience? Is there gender and racial balance that reflects equitable access to the opportunity of working on your project? 
  • How were the people on your team compensated? How were they compensated relative to one another?
  • How would you like to see this story distributed? How would you like to see it priced?
  • If you could control the profit allocation of your work, how would you allocate it?
  • Where did your financing come from? 

Importantly, there are no right answers to these questions. Not all questions may apply to you. Don’t worry, these are guideposts and ambitions. We know it takes extra time and money to be as thoughtful, thorough, and deliberate as we would like. Our logic is that by naming these criteria and rewarding them, you will be further empowered to shape a more equitable and impactful industry while encouraging others to do the same.

Previous Winners



Sarah Klein & Tom Mason

What does it truly take to invent something that changes the world? When cryogenics expert Kitty Liao discovers that half of the world’s vaccines get spoiled during their last mile of delivery, she decides to dedicate her life to creating a solution. Liao embarks on her own arduous journey as she attempts to get her life-saving invention into the hands of the people who need it most.



Ebony Blanding

When a tween mermaid enthusiast discovers an ailing water creature, she uses a magical wish to change the fate of their existence… and her own.



Kayla Yumi Lewis

Jamie Park, a Korean teenager, moves in with her relatives in the midwest after a family tragedy strikes back at home in Seoul. There, she meets her cousin Eli, and together they navigate high school while struggling with identity, guilt, and grief.

Sponsored by Level Forward

Level Forward is an ecosystem of storytellers, business people, and social change organizers focused on expanding the opportunity and influence of creative excellence in pursuit of economic transformation.

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