Chicago Digital Media Production Fund
The Chicago Digital Media Production Fund provides grants to digital media artists in the Chicago area whose projects seek to advance progressive social change and are intended for online distribution. Stay tuned for updates on our 2012 and 2013 awardee projects!
Voqal and Chicago Filmmakers are pleased to announce that the "Chicago Digital Media Production Fund" has awarded a total of $100,000 in grants to eight Chicago digital media makers. Now in its second year, the increased fund was able to award 14 Chicago digital media artists' grants ranging from $4,200 to $10,000.
An independent panel of nine media professionals reviewed the 125 submitted proposals. They were impressed by the many worthy and admirable proposals received this year, including many re-applicants from last year and a breadth of variety in topic, genres, social issues and skill level. Many of the projects submitted were worthy of support, including both student applicants and established, award winning filmmakers.
"We are gratified by the enthusiastic response to the call for proposals in 2013," said Hollis A. Hope, Voqal's senior philanthropy advisor. "Judging by the vested intent and interest expressed by the community, this fund is clearly meeting a resource need among Chicago digital artists and media makers."
The Chicago Digital Media Production Fund is a project of Voqal and is administered by Chicago Filmmakers. The goal of the fund is to support media arts projects intended for online distribution. Guidelines stipulated that digital media of any length or genre would be considered, but projects needed to promote progressive social change, be appropriate for youth, and be made available for viewing for free online in order to reach the widest possible audience. The fund was intended to support artists with varying levels of experience; both to recognize accomplished individuals, as well as to provide opportunities for emerging and younger artists.
All projects are scheduled for completion and online viewing by May 15, 2014.
The awarded projects are as follows (in alphabetical order):
Adventure Sandwich by Lily Emerson ($8,000)
"Adventure Sandwich" is an on-going live action series centered on the power of imagination, creative problem-solving, and collaboration. Made with the help of the audience, kids will complete arts-focused projects that encourage creative teamwork by setting certain parameters and limitations within which each new goal must be completed. The results of these projects then become ingredients for futures episodes.
Citizen Primer by Eric Patrick ($9,000)
"Citizen Primer" is a series of six two-minute animated infographics explaining government functions that are poorly understood by the public - Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, The Affordable Care Act, the progressive tax code, the deficit/debt, and securities regulation.These short animations will contribute to the public discourse and education around these issues, while also presenting opportunities for civic engagement that are not explicitly partisan.
Chicago Glove Project by Olivia Curry ($4,500)
The "Chicago Glove Project" is a series of eight five-minute webisodes profiling Chicago communities - their stories and their challenges - by viewing them through the lens of neighborhood boxing gyms. The series will focus on race, class and poverty in Chicago's neighborhoods through individual stories of empowerment, and aims to break through social barriers and connect communities through these stories.
Chicago Shareef by Nushmia Khan ($8,200)
"Chicago Shareef" is a series of seven documentary webisodes surrounding issues and stories within or connected to the Chicagoland Muslim community that is widely considered to be the most vibrant, storied, and active Muslim community in America. The webisodes will focus on the under-represented and under-reported issues within this community, including representations of women, intra-communal differences over Islamic religious interpretation and how that conflict is handled, and the experience of marginalized groups within the community.
Detroit Lights by Alexander Hughes ($4,500)
"Detroit Lights" is a seven-minute narrative short centered on gang violence, made in response to recent city ordinances in Detroit that have eliminated power to streetlights in large areas of the city. The film and subsequent distribution campaign will highlight community organizing around the city's choice to reduce annual electric costs by leaving thousands of tax paying citizens without electricity on their local streets, which threatens small businesses, the local economy, and the general safety of the community.
Falling Through the Cracks: Public School Closings in Chicago (working title) by Rachel Dickson ($5,000)
"Falling Through the Cracks" is a thirty-minute documentary short that will profile three subjects affected by Chicago Public School closings. Through these characters' eyes and voices, we meet families, teachers, relatives, and communities - and learn what it's like to not know where you will go to school or work next year. The film aims to show an inner view into the lives of people affected by public education policy, and thus effect change and political action.
I Live: A Trans* Toolkit for Youth by Andre Perez/Trans Oral History Project ($10,000) Filmmaker André Pérez came out as trans at the age of 19. In 2008, Andre founded the Trans Oral History Project in an effort to create a platform for transgender stories that the community could control, and to build digital spaces for intergenerational dialogue about issues that impact trans people. "I Live: A Trans* Toolkit for Youth" will consist of four 7-10 minute documentary shorts aimed at educating youth leaders and cultivating an anti-oppression analysis in the LGBTQ movement.
Les Oiseaux (working title) by Jeff Perlman ($7,200)
"Les Oiseaux" (working title) is a forty-minute documentary that will profile the socio-economic impact of the Monk Parakeet population that has been introduced into the environment in Chicago and Northern Illinois. The film will show, through a series of character vignettes, how the parakeet provides a unique opportunity to highlight the interconnectivity of community sentiment, public policy, industry, and biology; and how these different parts of society intersect and often collide over this escalating issue.
RIGHTS: The Moment by Carley Mostar ($4,200)
"RIGHTS: The Moment" is an anecdotal portrait series consisting of ten short episodes about the moment an individual either avoids or enters the criminal justice system in Chicago. Each individual episode can be viewed singly and will express the importance of Constitutional rights education, while the comprehensive series illustrates the breadth of the challenges these individuals face and illustrates the issues as infinite and systemic.
South Chicago: In Progress (working title) by David Granskog ($7,000)
"South Chicago: In Progress" (working title) is a forty-minute interactive documentary project that will tell the story of a marginalized former steel-mill community in South Chicago through the eyes of community residents, and give voice to the concerns and solutions surrounding a planned large-scale development that directly borders their neighborhood.The project will examine the paradoxes and challenges intrinsic in attempting "top-down" urban revitalization in this contested area while also paying homage to the area's rich and proud history.
Two-A-Days by April Wilson ($5,400)
"Two-A-Days" is a fifteen-minute narrative short that draws attention to the issue of gender equality in sports - especially those sports that are almost always exclusively played by one gender. The film will highlight the perceptions of male versus female athletes and show that men and women can indeed be seen on an equal playing field in any sport.
Throw Your L's Up: The Clique Phenomenon and the Search for Power and Identity on Chicago's South Side by Jon Lowenstein ($10,000)
"Throw Your L's Up" is a collaborative and immersive, observational short-form documentary film that examines the emerging phenomenon of cliques on the south side of Chicago and the increasingly violent evolving street-code. Focusing on one clique in the Grand Crossing neighborhood, the film will explore issues of identity and a sense of individual meaning in a place where the code of the street rules.
We Are Not Dreaming Anymore by Sergio Perez/Centro Sin Fronteras ($8,000)
This feature length documentary film seeks to preserve and highlight the struggle in which U.S. citizen youth and "Dreamers" with undocumented parents have come through in the last twelve years. Building on a body of work by Sergio Perez and Giovanny Gomez that documents the struggle for legalization of Familia Latina Unida and its youth organization, La Fuerza Juventud, the film seeks to illuminate the five million U.S. citizen children of undocumented parents and their options for the future.
'63 Boycott by Zak Piper/Kartemquin Films ($9,000)
"'63 Boycott" is a transmedia project surrounding the 1963 Chicago Public School Boycott designed to connect with and reawaken the interest of participants in this historic event and, ultimately, to engage the larger public in the importance of this history when considering the issues CPS faces today. The film and website will act as a launching pad for a multi-faceted community engagement and community-building campaign to draw the '63 boycotters into public and private face-to-face events with each other, the CPS schools and the larger public.
Our nine distinguished panelists were as follows (in alphabetical order):
Hyunjung Bae, PhD: Professor of Marketing and Communications at Columbia College Chicago; a cross-cultural social psychologist with extensive experience in the application of sociology; and a consultant for both industry organizations, such as KRAFT, Motorola, and IRI, and not for profit organizations, including Northwestern University and American Red Cross. Her architectural photography work has been published and shown in galleries.
Emile Cambry: Professor of Economics at North Park University; founder and festival director of the Chicago International Social Change Film Festival; founder/producer at Metroworks Film Production Company; founder of the Dr. Smith Center for the Arts; and founder and CEO of the 21st Century Youth Project.
Jennifer Choi: Program officer for McCormick Foundation's Journalism Program where she guides grantmaking in community-based news literacy, youth media and journalism training. She participates in the Chicago Women in Philanthropy's mentorship program and serves as grantmaking co-chair for the Asian Giving Circle, a donor advised subsidiary of the Chicago Community Trust.
Allison Cuddy: Arts and culture editor/reporter and former host for the daily radio newsmagazine Eight-Forty-Eight on WBEZ, Chicago's local NPR affiliate. Allison has covered issues ranging from arts and culture, to politics, social justice, science, health, and current events on a local and global scale. She also hosts and produces Weekender, the weekly guide to events happening in and around Chicago.
Mark Hallett: Senior program officer in the journalism program of the McCormick Foundation coordinating grantmaking in a number of areas, including youth journalism, press freedoms, diversity in journalism, and First Amendment initiatives. He serves on the board of directors of the Erie Elementary Charter School.
Ted Hardin: Associate Professor of Film & Video at Columbia College Chicago. His credits include a feature documentary about Bosnia, One More Mile: a Dialogue on Nation-Building; the feature documentary Dark Near-Death Experiences; the short video and installation, Long Distance; the short film Digital Afrika; and a feature documentary about wetland loss in Louisiana, Veins in the Gulf.
Andrew Hicks: Instructor in the Interactive Arts and Media department at Columbia College Chicago; interactive multimedia artist; and freelance web designer. He curates interactive art shows, film fesitvals and workshops revolving around digital media; and his own interactive work has shown in Los Angeles, Chicago and Tallinn, Estonia. He currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Alliance of Creative Professionals.
Daniel Sauter: Associate Professor of New Media Arts at the University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Art and Design; interactive installation artist; founder of the Mobile Processing Conference; and author of Rapid Android Development: Build Rich, Sensor-Based Applications with Processing. His research is driven by a curiosity about the ways in which technologies shape and transform urban spaces, social relationships, and the human body.
Deb Tolchinsky: Assistant Professor of Radio-TV-Film at Northwestern University; filmmaker, editor, artist and curator. Her films, videos, and installations have been exhibited internationally at such venues as Croxhapox Gallery in Ghent, the Horse Hospital in London, the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and The Chicago Cultural Center in Chicago, IL. She recently completed the feature documentary Fast Talk.