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Call for Applications: Southern Exposure Film Fellowship Program


Southern Exposure: Documenting the Struggle and Successes

for Environmental Protection in Alabama

A Multimedia Summer Fellowship Sponsored by the Alabama Rivers Alliance
Fellowship Dates : June 18 – July 24, 2020

Deadline to apply: March 6, 2020

Now in its 8th year, Southern Exposure provides a positive and challenging learning experience to exceptional film students and emerging filmmakers from across the country seeking to explore and develop their talent as environmental advocates through nonfiction storytelling. This innovative summer fellowship equips students with the skills, equipment, content knowledge and contacts to create authentic, engaging, inspiring films intended to raise public awareness about important issues facing Alabama’s environment — from the mountains to the coast. The
selected fellows will use their skills and talents to serve local communities and the environmental organizations that support them.

The selected film fellows will spend the summer working in partnership with Alabama Rivers Alliance’s partner groups and other state environmental organizations, who will provide guidance on film topics and crucial community contacts to help the fellows create the short documentaries that will be most useful for raising awareness and advocating for the protection of Alabama’s special places.

The finished films are screened at events all across Alabama, and submitted to film festivals across the country. To watch the films from previous fellowship years, visit:

Components of Fellowship:
• Production of an original short film to document a contemporary topic of environmental concern that
will support environmental advocacy work in Alabama
• Field trip visits to some of Alabama’s beautiful natural resources
• Orientation with Alabama Rivers Alliance and their environmental partner groups
• Feedback sessions with representatives from ARA, environmental partner groups and filmmakers
• Working with clients to develop presentation skills, along with accepting constructive feedback

Southern Exposure seeks the best and brightest up-and-coming documentary filmmakers committed to protecting our natural resources, improving human health, and achieving environmental justice through film, journalism and collective action. Selected fellows come from across the country and represent a broad base of backgrounds, including broadcasting, law, psychology, literature, science, anthropology, education and film production. This makes for a thriving interdisciplinary environment in which filmmakers share skills and build long-lasting relationships.

Although participants are not required to have backgrounds that would necessarily lead to careers in filmmaking, applicants are required to have completed at least one short film in order to be considered. Applicants must have a demonstrated ability to work collaboratively, as this fellowship is a highly interactive and interpersonal experience. A weekly stipend and dormitory style or other suitable housing will be provided.

The following materials must be received via email by the Alabama Rivers Alliance by March 6, 2020 in order for you to be considered for the program.

1. Cover letter that answers the following two questions:

  •  What is it that you hope to gain from participation in this fellowship program?
  • What is one environmental issue that you are passionate about and why?

2. Resume, including full name, current email address, mailing address, and cell phone number.

3. Academic transcript (unofficial is acceptable). To qualify, all applicants must have had at least two film production courses. Please remove or redact your birthdate and social security number from your transcript.

4. Link to a film for which you have had creative control. Upload a sample of your video or film work to YouTube or Vimeo and copy the link on a one-page summary of the creative work including a brief synopsis, running time of the clips, the circumstances of production and your role. Do not submit work on which you have had only a “production assistant” role. A submission may be 10 minutes or less of a single film or a compilation reel from several films. Please follow the YouTube or Vimeo guidelines for uploading so that you have the highest resolution and highest video quality possible for your video.

5. OPTIONAL: Letter of recommendation from an academic or professional reference that speaks to your accomplishments and potential.

All application materials should be combined into one pdf and emailed to

Films should be uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo as indicated above and jpgs can be emailed separately to File sizes should be reduced so that no emails are larger than 8 MB. If you choose to submit a letter of recommendation, the letter should be emailed from the account of the person who writes the letter directly to

Applicants will be notified of their status by mid-April 2020.

*Some dates are subject to change, but will be announced well in advance.

About Southern Exposure 2020 Program Director Michele Forman
Southern Exposure’s 2018 Program Director Michele Forman is a documentary filmmaker, and co-founder and Director of the Media Studies Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Given her extensive background in film, Michele has continued to play an invaluable role in the Southern Exposure film fellowship after serving as the 2012 Program Director. Prior to teaching at UAB, she started her film career as Director of Development at Spike Lee’s 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, and has worked on numerous award-nominated films. Michele received a B.A. from
Harvard University, and an M.A. from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

About Alabama Rivers Alliance
Alabama Rivers Alliance is a statewide network of groups working to protect and restore all of Alabama’s water resources through building partnerships, empowering citizens, and advocating for sound water policy and its enforcement.

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