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Firelight Media invites emerging filmmakers living in the American Midwest who identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Color (BIPOC) to submit proposals or works-in-progress for a new digital shorts initiative series, HOMEGROWN: Future Visions.

Our upcoming collection will focus on Midwestern stories. Eight selected filmmakers will receive $35,000 to produce an 8-10 minute non-fiction short film. The filmmakers will work with Firelight Media from development through distribution, and will receive mentorship by established independent filmmakers. Additionally, filmmakers will be paired with a local public media station for additional editorial and audience engagement support, with a focus on local expertise and communities. Selected films will be distributed through public media with a planned release for Fall 2022.

Creative Brief

We seek projects that disrupt mainstream narratives about the Midwest and illuminate the living histories, cultures, and future visions of the region. Projects can vary in scope/approach, and address topics including (but not limited to): new forms of resistance and joy, land rights and reparations work, climate change and migration, interventions in the world of athletics, cultural changemakers, community traditions and rituals, and beyond. 

In the wake of widespread incidents of police brutality, advocacy for climate justice, and calls to end gun violence, HOMEGROWN: Future Visions explores how filmmakers, culture bearers and communities are redefining cultural identities through place-based storytelling. Projects that address the following questions will receive priority consideration: What does the future of the Midwest look like? What socio-cultural values should be retained? What Midwestern communities would benefit from amplification? Are there movements/people/events that have flourished that the rest of the country should know about?

The ideal candidates for the initiative are emerging filmmakers, storytellers, and journalists committed to unearthing never-before-told narratives rooted in their local community.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Project must be short form non-fiction, with a duration of 8-10 minutes
  • Project must be in development, pre-production, or early production
  • Applicant must identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or a person of color
  • Applicant must reside in the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, or Wisconsin)
  • Applicant must be able to complete the project by August 2022
  • Applicants must hold artistic, budgetary, and editorial control, and must own the copyright of the proposed project
  • Applicants must be 18 years of age or older by the time of submission
  • Applicants must be willing and able to work collaboratively with Firelight Media, local public media staff, and mentors
  • Only one proposal may be submitted per applicant

Projects NOT Eligible:

  • Feature documentaries, series, or fiction projects
  • Projects in post-production or completed films
  • Projects from currently enrolled students or made in conjunction with coursework
  • Projects or production entities which are non-US-based, owned, or controlled
  • Branded content or promotional projects

Deadline: 10/29/21 at 11:59pm CST 

About Firelight Media:

Firelight Media is a premier destination for non-fiction cinema by and about communities of color. Firelight Media produces documentary films, supports filmmakers of color, and cultivates audiences for their work. Firelight Media’s programs include the Documentary Lab, an 18-month fellowship that supports emerging filmmakers of color; Groundwork Regional Lab, which supports filmmakers in the American south, midwest, and U.S.-controlled Territories; and the William Greaves Fund for mid-career nonfiction filmmakers from racially and ethnically underrepresented communities. Firelight Media also produces digital short film series, including the recently released Hindsight series with Reel South and the Center for Asian American Media.

If you have any questions or need any accommodations, please email: nicoledocta@firelightmedia.org.

We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.