The Digital Storytellers Lab is a yearlong fellowship that gives digital-first storytellers the opportunity to develop, launch and grow original audio/visual media exploring Jewish themes for new media platforms. The program provides fellows with production funds, mentorship, and technical and subject-matter expertise to support the development and production of their projects. This is our second cohort; please note that some of the criteria for applicants and projects have changed from last year. Applications are open - they will close on October 30, 2023.
The Lab seeks to elevate untold and lesser-known Jewish stories, or retell familiar stories in innovative ways and for new audiences. Working with each other, and with support from accomplished mentors from multiple media, the fellows participate in professional workshops, consultancies and Jewish educational experiences which together elevate the material.
While the Lab offers plenty of time for development, research, workshopping, and refining the concepts for each project, after the first few months the emphasis will be on producing, launching, iterating and growing the audience for the fellows' work. Therefore, applicants should apply with a well-formed plan for projects, and expect to spend time executing and learning together from our efforts.
Fellows work with program staff and a pool of mentors, educators and technical experts to refine and implement their plans for project development and deliverables. Different types of projects will naturally have different sets of deliverables, to be determined in consultation with Program staff. However, the intent is for each creator to come out of the program having launched their project online and produced several episodes or installments, as well as having established a marketing strategy, trusted advisors, and organizational partnerships if relevant and appropriate.
The program includes two intensive, in-person seminars, one in New York and one in Los Angeles, and regular Zoom meetings of the cohort.
Up to 15 storytellers will be selected for this (the second) cohort of the Digital Storytellers Lab. In applying, prospective participants will explain how they will use the funds (up to $25,000) to support development and production of the project, and finalists will be asked to submit a detailed budget. The amount and nature of the budget should accurately reflect the specific needs of the project and the fellow’s role in its creation. See our FAQ for more info about this aspect of the application.
The Lab offers support in a non-exclusive relationship, affording fellows a set schedule and motivational milestones to develop their projects. Fellows own their projects, scripts and other materials.
What we're looking for
Fellows may work in short and very-short form live action, animation, comics, games, podcast* and other serialized or episodic audio and/or visual media that are made to be shared online through a variety of platforms. We are not interested in pitches for full-length TV shows or feature-length films even if you intend to put them on a digital platform. Pitches should not mention Netflix, Hulu and so on, and we will not read applications of this nature.
Projects may be designed for any demographic, including children of all ages. The primary language for projects should be English, although we welcome creative bilingual approaches. We hope to include creators who want to tell stories on Youtube, IG Reels, TikTok, Webtoon, independent game platforms, and so on.
* We love podcasts, but there are A LOT of them out there. We will include only a small number of podcasts in the cohort and encourage applicants to think carefully about their choice of creative format.
Projects developed in this program should explore Jewish themes, such as Jewish identity, culture, values, heritage, religion, spirituality, or history. Stories may be fictional or non-fictional in nature, and must be written and designed for new media platforms. Priority will be given to projects that investigate lesser-known aspects of the Jewish story, or that reimagine well-known stories for new audiences and new platforms. We welcome creativity in both content and form.
Applicants must be:
Based in North America.
At least 21 years of age.
Have a track record creating and/or producing in the medium of their choice (you will be asked to provide a work sample in the application). Exceptions may be made for accomplished storytellers who want to explore a new format. Keep in mind that the Lab staff will offer guidance and connect fellows with helpful professionals who have relevant expertise, but will not provide basic instruction in technical production skills.
Oct 30, 2023: Applications* due. These include a budget overview explaining how funds will be used. Finalists will submit more comprehensive budgets as part of the interview process.
Mid-December 2023: Participants announced
Jan 9, 2024: Cohort meet and greet: kickoff event (virtual)
Feb 4-8, 2024: In-person convening: Los Angeles
Mar - Sep, 2024: Regular Zoom gatherings on a recurring date (mid-month, TBD)
Sep 22-25, 2024: In-person convening, New York
Mid Jan, 2025: Program conclusion and showcase event(s) TBC
*If you need any accommodation in submitting your application, please email firstname.lastname@example.org