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. Proposals will be accepted beginning February 15, 2019 and all proposals must be submitted online by the deadline of 11:59 PM (CST) on March 25, 2019.

Independent digital media makers based in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs are invited to apply for the Production Fund. Innovative video and media projects intended for online exhibition and distribution by established, emerging, and young artists alike could qualify for cash grants of up to $20,000 toward the project’s production and completion. All genres will be accepted, but content must highlight a relevant social issue and should be aimed at advancing progressive social change. All content should be appropriate for youth, but does not necessarily need to be intended exclusively or primarily for youth. Distribution plans must include free availability on the web by July 1, 2020.
  1. Applicants may apply individually or with a non-profit fiscal sponsor organization. A fiscal sponsor organization must agree to accept funds on behalf of the applicant and will be responsible for redistributing funds to the project accordingly.
  2. Individual applicants must reside in Cook County.
  3. Associated fiscal sponsor organizations must be located in Cook County, if the individual applying with the non-profit organization does not reside in Cook County her/himself.
  4. Applicant must be the project director, producer, or developer with creative control.
  5. Production and/or post-production must take place in Chicago.
  6. Project must be independent of commercial objectives (no advertising, promotional, industrial, or contract work - even for non-profit organizations).
  7. Projects may be funded in any phase of production.
Evaluation and Selection Criteria:
  1. Content must address a present social issue and seek to advance social change.
  2. All digital video genres (narrative, documentary, animation, experimental, webisodes, etc.) and digital media projects (apps, games, etc.) are eligible to apply.
  3. Short productions are preferred; however feature length works will also be considered.
  4. Proposed projects will be evaluated on creativity, artistry, innovation, and content.
  5. Applicants must outline a clear plan for online exhibition and audience engagement for the project.
  6. Content must be appropriate for a youth audience (ages 13+) although it does not necessarily have to be intended exclusively or primarily for youth.
  7. Evidence of other support must be provided, either cash or in-kind.
  8. Previous work must demonstrate high technical and artistic ability. Allowances will be made for youth applicants in order to support strong concepts/projects by young artists.
  9. The completed proposal should demonstrate a cost effective budget and clear production plan/timeline.
  10. Applicants applying with a non-profit fiscal sponsor organization will be evaluated based on the merits of the proposed artist and project, rather than on the associated non-profit.

Application Process:
  1. Applicants must submit a project proposal for review by 11:59 PM on March 25, 2019.
  2. Proposals will be reviewed by an independent panel of media professionals. Chicago Filmmakers staff and board will not be part of the decision-making process. Panel award recommendations require final approval from Voqal.
  3. Submit a complete online application here.
  4. Within the application, submit required attachments including proof of residency, project timeline, budget, script treatment (if applicable), key talent/crew bios, and budget narrative.
  5. Within the application, submit a link to at least two samples of work from key creatives and, if available, a sample of the work for which you are applying.
  6. All applicants will be notified with final decisions by the end of June 2019.
Award Requirements:
  1. Projects will be awarded between $500 – $20,000 based on the amount requested, project budget, scope of the project, and merits of the proposed project.
  2. Grant monies will be distributed in 33% increments based on met project objectives and expense reporting.
  3. All rights to the project will belong to the applicant.
  4. Recognition of Voqal in the project credits must be acknowledged as “Produced with a grant from the Chicago Digital Media Production Fund, a project of Voqal administered by Chicago Filmmakers."
  5. Awarded project must be completed and available to view for free on the web as of July 1, 2020 and must remain available online for a minimum of three years. Chicago Filmmakers reserves the right to showcase the funded project on a CDMPF Vimeo page for three years.

FAQs and Budget Template

  1. Download a sample budget template here
  2. Download the Frequently Asked Questions and Helpful Tips here

The Chicago Digital Media Production Fund is a project of Voqal, and is administered by Chicago Filmmakers.

Voqal is dedicated to supporting the dissemination of alternative ideas and building a more engaged public to effect progressive social change and disrupt the status quo. Through various grant-making and fellowship initiatives, Voqal supports nonprofit organizations and individuals using media and technology to empower those who are politically, economically or socially disenfranchised.

Chicago Filmmakers is a not-for-profit media arts organization that empowers local artists to create new work through production funding, equipment access, fiscal sponsorship, and other filmmaker services and resources; encourages the professional advancement of media artists through seminars, panel discussions, lectures, rough-cut and open screenings, as well as networking events and other opportunities for artistic exchange; and nurtures the development of aspiring filmmakers of all ages by offering classes, workshops, and summer camps. Chicago Filmmakers develops diverse film-going audiences through its year-round film and video exhibition programs and two annual film festivals.