2017/18 McKnight Media Artist Fellowships
Administered by FilmNorth

Application Guidelines

HomeFAQ

 

Applications are now closed

Fellows will be announced on May 23, 2017

 

The McKnight Foundation’s Arts program is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. Established in 1981, the McKnight Artist Fellowships provide annual, unrestricted cash awards to outstanding mid-career Minnesota artists in ten areas. Eight arts organizations oversee the administration of the fellowships and structure their own programs to respond to the unique challenges of different creative disciplines.

The Arts program supports the conviction that the arts cannot flourish or enhance community life without the ideas, energy, and drive of individual artists, and that artists cannot make these contributions without unfettered creative time.

The goal of the McKnight Artist Fellowships for Media Artists program is to identify talented Minnesota media artists whose work is of exceptional artistic merit and who are at a career stage beyond emerging. The fellowship program supports established artists by providing significant financial assistance, by creating opportunities to meet with local and national art professionals, by organizing a public discussion panel featuring the fellows, by providing assistance to attend the Film Independent Forum in Los Angeles (or Independent Film Week in New York; which is still TBD) and by offering four free classes through FilmNorth during the fellowship year.

For questions about the fellowships or the application process, contact Eric Mueller, Program Administrator, FilmNorth, 651-644-1912, emueller@myfilmnorth.org.

About the 2017/18 McKnight Media Artist Fellowships

Awards
Four $25,000 grants are awarded annually. Fellowship funding may be used to enhance any aspect of the artist’s life, such as overhead costs, the purchase of materials, travel, and other living expenses. Awards are subject to state and federal income tax guidelines.

Jury Panel
The fellows will be selected by a panel of jurors who are media artists and professionals from outside of Minnesota. Jurors will evaluate submissions for consistent artistic excellence and merit, clarity and uniqueness of vision, and professionalism. Jurors will award the fellowships on the basis of artistic merit, not by discipline.

Please note: FilmNorth fellowship staff who oversee the McKnight Fellowship program do not contribute to the decision-making process or the selection of the McKnight Media Artist Fellows. The role of the staff is to provide clarity for the review process and to ensure that the panel review and discussion proceed in accordance with the program’s guidelines.

Eligibility

Eligible applicants include independent producers, directors, writers, and developers in film, television, radio, web, computer/video games, transmedia, and other emerging forms of media. The fellowship is designed to support Minnesota media artists whose work is of exceptional artistic merit and who are at a career stage beyond emerging.

Please read carefully. Applicants who do not meet all of the following criteria and expectations will not be considered and should not apply.

You must:

1. Be at least 18 years old and a resident of Minnesota, as determined by voting and/or payment of taxes in the state.
2. Have lived in the state for at least one year prior to the application deadline.
3. Reside in the state until the end of the twelve-month Fellowship period.
4. Be willing to participate in all aspects of the fellowship program, including meetings, public relations opportunities and fellowship events.
5. Be able to demonstrate that you are beyond the stage of an emerging artist, with a sustained level of professional accomplishment, commitment and excellence over a period of at least five years. Evidence of this accomplishment cannot be student work. To demonstrate that you are beyond the stage of an emerging artist, you must have at least one of these qualifications, depending on your role:

If you are submitting work as a film, television, radio, and webisode director or producer:

  • You must provide documentation indicating that your work has been shown in at least two film festivals, web festivals, or curated exhibitions, one of them outside of Minnesota,
  • OR has been broadcast or distributed nationally or internationally (not including online self-distribution, such as YouTube),
  • OR has received at least one national award (e.g., Spirit Award, Webby, national Emmy, Third Coast award, etc.).

If you are submitting work as a screenwriter or television/webisode writer:

  • You must have had a feature-length, narrative screenplay, stage play, or a one- or two-hour dramatic television script produced or optioned for production. That production must be by a person or a company with at least one produced feature film, television, or theatrical credit (not yourself or your own production company),
  • OR have placed as a semi-finalist, finalist, or winner of a national (outside of Minnesota) screenwriting competition (e.g., Nicholl, Austin, Slamdance, etc.),
  • OR be a member of the Writers’ Guild of America.

If you are submitting work as a computer/video game or interactive creator:

  • You must have received recognition from a national or international organization (e.g., the Independent Games Festival). It may be a competition, festival, award, or producer option.

ALL APPLICANTS must provide documentation to support their credentials, such as a copy of the option agreement or production details, a link to a website of a festival or competition stating your status, a scanned copy of a contract or award, etc.

Please note: if you submit works from different categories (e.g., a screenplay and a film), you need to provide professional accomplishment documentation for EACH of the categories. For example, you would need to show that you were a finalist in a screenwriting competition, and that you have had a film in at least two festivals.

You may:
You may apply as an individual or as a team of no more than two artists. Each applicant on the team must fulfill all the eligibility requirements. Co-applicants should submit only one set of written materials: a combined resume of work completed together, combined artist statement, etc. All work samples must be work created as a team.

You may not:

1. Submit works that were made for a degree-granting program.
2. Submit more than one application per individual (or team of two) per year.
3. Submit works in which the only means of expression is photography or theatre-based performance. Other McKnight Artist Fellowships support artists working in these areas.
4. Be enrolled in a degree-seeking program, either part-time or full-time, at an institution of higher learning.
5. Have received a McKnight Artist Fellowship in any discipline in 2014, 2015 or 2016.
6. Apply to more than one of the ten McKnight Artist Fellowships programs in a given year. Doing so will disqualify applicants from consideration in any program in that fellowship year.
7. Work as fellowship staff at any McKnight Artist Fellowship program.
8. Work as fellowship staff or be an immediate family member of fellowship staff at FilmNorth.
9. Be an employee of FilmNorth.
10. Work at or be a board member of The McKnight Foundation. In addition, you may not be an immediate family member of foundation arts program staff.
11. If you are a previous McKnight Media Artist Fellow, you may not submit the same work you submitted the year you received the fellowship. Additionally, at least one of your work samples must have created since you received the fellowship.

Application Requirements

Once you have determined that you are eligible, you may apply by filling out the online application. Make sure that you have all your application materials ready to enter before you begin filling out the application. Your work samples may be submitted as links or attachments, depending on your medium, or can be submitted on physical media if necessary. Do not send any of your materials as email attachments or on paper. NOTE: if you are uploading a work sample, it must be a PDF. You cannot upload a Quicktime or MP3 or any other kind of media file; instead you should upload those files to another site (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo or SoundCloud) and send the link to us. You cannot submit links to work samples on Dropbox, or any other file hosting site that requires the panelists to download software.

1. TWO OR THREE WORK SAMPLES

Film, television, radio, and webisode directors and producers:

  • You must submit two or three completed projects of any length.
  • The judges will watch a minimum of 10 consecutive minutes of each piece.
  • Please indicate the track/timecode/level where you want the judges to begin.
  • Submit your work as a URL, file, or DVD (URL preferred). If submitting on DVD, please provide 4 copies.

Screenwriters and TV/webisode writers:

  • You must submit two or three completed scripts of any length.
  • Judges will read a minimum of twenty pages of each script, so make sure they are reading your best scene(s). Please indicate the page on which you would like the judges to begin reading. If no indication is made, the first 20 pages will be read.
  • 1-2 page plot synopsis of your screenplay. Since the panel will not be reading the entire screenplay, this plot synopsis should help give them an overview of the entire story, and context for the 20 pages they will read. This is not a treatment. Do not exceed 2 pages.
  • Scripts must be in standard screenplay format. (For an example please see: http://www.oscars.org/sites/default/files/scriptsample.pdf Any screenplay not properly format will not be considered.)
  • You must provide a copy of your WGA registration for each script.
  • Submit your work as a PDF.

Computer/video game and interactive creators:

  • You must submit two or three completed projects of any length.
  • The judges will play/navigate a minimum of 10 minutes of each piece.
  • In addition to the work samples, you must provide a video walkthrough of each sample.
  • Please indicate the track/timecode/level where you want the judges to begin.
  • Submit your work as a URL, file, or DVD (URL or file preferred). If submitting on DVD, please provide 4 copies.

Eligible Genres and Formats

You may submit work samples in any of these media:

  • Feature-length and short narrative films/videos
  • Feature-length and short narrative film scripts
  • Feature-length and short documentaries
  • Feature-length and short experimental projects
  • Feature-length and short animated projects
  • Music videos
  • Multi-part or single television programs
  • Multi-part or single television scripts
  • Multi-part webisodes
  • Multi-part webisode scripts
  • Multi-part or single radio programs
  • Interactive games
  • Websites with narrative or interactive components
  • Transmedia projects
  • Projects may be intended for projection, hand-held devices, the web, radio, or television.

FilmNorth recognizes that not all media projects fall within the strict definitions of genres and formats. Refer to the list below of works not accepted, and speak with the program administrator if you have questions regarding eligibility of a particular work.

Genres and Formats NOT Eligible

You may not submit work samples of any of these types:

  • Works produced in fulfillment of a class assignment or a degree program
  • Works for hire
  • Broadcast news journalism
  • Broadcast reality entertainment
  • Advertising commercials
  • Industrial films and websites
  • Corporate films and websites
  • Educational films and websites
  • Trailers, clips or any proposal for a longer project
  • Director’s or producer’s reels
  • Incomplete works in progress
  • Screenplay or teleplay adaptations of any previously written, performed, or filmed work by another artist

2. PROCESS AND HISTORY STATEMENTS

For each work you’re submitting, provide a brief (one-page maximum) written description of the inspiration or vision for the piece, unique or notable aspects of the process, and the production and exhibition history (if applicable). Film producers should additionally include a paragraph detailing when they got involved in the project, what areas of producing they were directly responsible for, and, if there were other producers, how the co-production was structured. Include your name on the first page.

3. PROOF OF PROFESSIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT

Provide programs, documents, or links to information verifying your inclusion in festivals, other curated programs, awards, producer options, or broadcast schedules (as defined under “Eligibility,” above).

4. PROFESSIONAL RESUME

The resume should be no longer than two pages and should demonstrate professional accomplishment in your medium for a minimum of five years. It should reflect your work, honors, awards and other recognition in the field, as well as give information about your education and related work; and it is extremely important to include dates with all listings.

5. ARTIST’S STATEMENT

Submit a current artist statement about your work (no longer than one page). It may provide information about your background, the development or current direction of your work, or other information you would like to present to the panel. Please include some indication as to future artistic direction so the jurors will have some idea how the fellowship would affect you and your work. Make sure you name is included. Here are some examples of artist statements from the 2015 fellows, which you may download for reference.

Acknowledgment of Terms and Conditions

By applying, you attest:

  • To the accuracy of the information supplied in this application.
  • That the material submitted is your sole and original work.
  • To your agreement to hold FilmNorth, its staff, and fellowship jurors harmless from, and defend them against, all claims, demands, losses, costs, damages, judgments, liabilities and expenses (including attorneys’ fees) arising out of or in connection with any work submitted to the McKnight Media Artist
  • Fellowship or any project developed out of such work.
  • That the burden of obtaining copyright or otherwise protecting any proprietary interests in the material, if you wish to do so, rests entirely with you.
  • To your understanding of the purposes and conditions of the McKnight Media Artist Fellowships and to your acceptance of them should you be selected as a fellow.
  • That you are eligible for the competition, and that you will notify FilmNorth if you become ineligible prior to the conclusion of the competition.
  • That providing false or misleading information on this application, or failing in any other way to comply with the rules will subject you to disqualification and forfeiture of the fellowship.

Application Process

Online Application
The application must be filled out in one sitting, so it might make the application process easier if you type all your answers in a separate document first so that you can cut and paste them into the actual application. To make this easier, we will have a worksheet that you can download and use to help prepare your application.

Fill out the application and upload all information and supporting materials to FilmNorth by the submission deadline. If you are submitting any physical media in support of your application (e.g., a DVD) that material must be received at the FilmNorth office by the deadline for application:

SUBMISSION DEADLINE
MONDAY MARCH 6 AT 5PM

You will not be able to upload files after 5PM CST. At that time the system immediately stops accepting applications, even if you are working on yours. Please plan ahead to make sure your system is compatible with the application process. Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted.

If you are submitting your work samples as physical media (e.g. DVDs), please deliver them to:

McKnight Media Artist Fellowships
FilmNorth
550 Vandalia Street
St. Paul, MN 55114
651-644-1912

Information Sessions

Eric Mueller, program administrator, will conduct two 90-minute “How to Apply” Workshops to go over the application process, both its content and technical aspects. He will be joined by Noah Keesecker, Program Director/Artist Development at Springboard for the Arts

Sunday, January 29 from 1:00-2:30 p.m.
Wednesday, February 15 from 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Both sessions will be held at the FilmNorth office:
FilmNorth
550 Vandalia Street
St. Paul, MN 55114
651-644-1912

A video recording of the January 29 information session is available on Vimeo.  Applicants are also welcome to schedule one-on-one meetings (in person or over the phone) with Eric Mueller about their application before completing it online. To schedule a meeting please call 651-644-1912 or email emueller@myfilmnorth.org.

Calendar

January 9, 2017 Applications open

January 29 Information Session 1 (1:00 – 2:30pm)

February 15 Information Session 2 (6:30 – 8:00pm)

March 6 Deadline for Applications

May 23 Fellowships announced

Help/FAQ

1. What is the McKnight Media Artist Fellowships Program?
This program, administered by FilmNorth, awards four unrestricted $25,000 fellowships to professional Minnesota media artists each year. The program is one of ten Artist Fellowship programs funded by the McKnight Foundation of Minneapolis, Minnesota. For more information on McKnight Artist Fellowships in other program areas go here.

2. What is the application deadline?
Monday, March 6, 2017 at 5PM.

3. What’s new this year?
There are just a few changes from last year. 1) If you are submitting work on DVDs, you must submit 4 copies. 2) You must include your name on the first page of every PDF.

4. What does the panel look for?
The panel looks for mid-career artists whose work is of exceptional artistic merit and who have created a substantial body of work over a period of time. In other words, these awards are not intended for Media Artists at the beginning stage of their career, nor are they for a single work of merit. Above all, the panel looks for artistic excellence in an artist’s body of work.

5. How do you define “mid-career”?
Mid-career artists will have a history of sustained professional media arts work over a period of at least five years, demonstrated through film festival screenings, produced films, optioned screenplays, residencies, grants, fellowships, awards or other recognition in the field. Accomplishments must be outside of accredited degree programs, i.e. student performances will not count towards the five-year period of professional accomplishment.

6. What are the eligibility requirements?
Applicants must be residents of Minnesota for at least one year prior to applying. Applicants may not be full-time students. Recipients of 2014, 2015, and 2016 McKnight Artist Fellowships in any field are not eligible. Applicants to this program may not apply to any other McKnight Fellowship program in the same year. Furthermore, fellows must remain in residence during the fellowship year or forfeit the award. Please see complete information on eligibility requirements in the guidelines.

7. May I apply as part of a team?
You may apply as an individual or as a team of no more than two artists. Each applicant on the team must fulfill all the eligibility requirements. Co-applicants should submit only one set of written materials: a combined resume of work completed together, combined artist statement, etc. All work samples must be work created as a team.

8. What are the fellowships for?
Fellowships are unrestricted funds available to media artists to support their work and artistry. The Fellowships are not project grants, and the panel does not evaluate project proposals as criteria in the selection process. A fellowship can help an artist set aside periods of time for study, reflection, experimentation, and exploration; take advantage of an opportunity; or work on a new project. Applicants cannot attend school full-time during the fellowship year and the fellowships funds may not be used to support work associated with a degree program. However, fellowships may be used to support professional study. If you have further questions about what the fellowship may support, please contact us at emueller@myfilmnorth.org.

9. Who reviews the applications?
A panel of three out-of-state arts professionals reviews applications and selects fellows. Panelists are knowledgeable about media arts and the panel represents a range of backgrounds and areas of expertise. The panel makeup changes each year. The panel is confidential and names of panelists are not revealed until after the selection process is complete.

10. Does FilmNorth help pick the fellows?
No. FilmNorth fellowship staff who oversee the McKnight Fellowship program do not contribute to the decision-making process or the selection of the McKnight Media Artist Fellows. The role of the staff is to provide clarity for the review process and to ensure that the panel review and discussion proceed in accordance with the program’s guidelines.

11. What should I say in my artist’s statement?
Since the fellowship is an award for an artist and a body of work (rather than a specific project), we suggest using the artist’s statement to help the panel get a better idea of who you are as an artist. The statement may take any one of several directions: you may choose to write about your background, the development of your work, your particular interests as an artist or your aesthetic position, your future direction or anything else pertinent to your art. Do keep in mind that the artist statement is not a project proposal. You may if you wish talk about your plans for the fellowship year, but it is not required. Here are some examples of artist statements from the 2015 fellows, which you may download for reference.

12. May I use the same artist statement I submitted last year?
Yes, certainly, if it is still pertinent. The panel make-up changes every year, so each panel is seeing application materials anew.

13. Should I submit two or three work samples?
If you have three great work samples you are strongly encouraged to submit all three of them. If you only have two great work samples your application will look less robust than an applicant that has three samples, but you should only be submitting work that is very strong. It’s recommended to put your strongest work sample first.

14. Should my work sample show recent work, older work or both?
Ideally you should have work that covers a span of time, but you are strongly encouraged to have some recent work. Applicants who do not submit recent work (last 1-2 years) will be at a disadvantage. (Note: If you have previously received a media artists fellowship, at least one sample must be since you received the last fellowship. Also, you are not allowed to use work samples which have previously been used to win a fellowship.)

15. I understand the judges will watch at least 10 minutes of my work sample. Can I have them watch the first 5 minutes and the last 5 minutes of my film?
No. They will watch (at least) 10 consecutive minutes, which is why we ask you for the starting point.

16. I have a lot of short films; can I use two 5-minute films as one 10-minute work sample?
No. Each film is its own work sample. If your film is shorter than 10 minutes, the panel will watch the entire film.

17. For submitting my work, can I use Dropbox?
No. The work must be able to play in a browser window without the panelist having to download any software. Screenplays may be uploaded as PDFs, but all other kinds of work samples must be hosted on another site (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo or SoundCloud), and then provide the link(s) in your application.

18. What about DVDs? Can I submit my work that way?
You may, but it is discouraged as it makes it more difficult for our panelists. If you have no choice but to submit work on a DVD, you must provide 4 copies. These will not be returned.

19. What should I include in my resume?
Your resume is extremely useful in determining whether you are a mid-career artist, so it should reflect your work, honors, awards and other recognition in the field, as well as give information about your education and related work; and it is extremely important to include dates with all listings. Do not include work that is not pertinent to your career as a media artist.

20. I’m submitting a screenplay. Which 20 pages should I select for the judges to read?
You should submit your best 20 pages that show your best writing. This might be the first 20 pages, or it might be the last 20. The goal is to showcase your skills as a writer, so select your strongest scenes.

21. If I have the judges read the last 20 pages of my screenplay, how will they be able to understand the story?
You must submit a 1-2 page synopsis of your screenplay that will give the judges a good understanding of the entire script, so they can understand the scene(s) that you are having them read. This plot synopsis is not a treatment; instead, set up the scene(s) that the judges will read. Do not submit a synopsis longer than 2 pages.

22. Can I have the judges read the first ten pages and the last ten pages of my script?
No. The 20 pages that the judges read must be consecutive.

23. I’ve received a fellowship in a previous year. Can I reapply?
You may reapply if you received a fellowship in 2013 or earlier. You are not eligible to apply if you received a McKnight fellowship in any category in 2014, 2015, or 2016. Note that if you have received a McKnight Artist Fellowship in the past, additional restrictions apply to your choice of work samples; please see FAQ 14.

24. Can I get assistance with my application?
Yes. There are two information sessions scheduled for January 29th and February 15th to review guidelines and answer questions. You can also email us at emueller@myfilmnorth.org with your questions or to schedule a phone appointment. If you think you’ll need help, please don’t wait until the last minute to ask for it.

25. Filling out the application is kind of a pain because I have to do it all in one sitting. Can this be any easier?
Yes, we agree that it’s not very convenient to have to fill out the form in one pass, and we hope to be able to change that in the future. But for now, we have created a worksheet that you can download, if you like. You can work on your application bit by bit and save it in the worksheet; then when it’s time to apply, simply cut and paste the text from the worksheet into the actual application. You can download the worksheet here.

26. Can I get feedback from my application after selections are made?
Yes, you may make a phone appointment to receive feedback.

27. How can I be sure to receive information about the fellowship program next year?
Sign up for the FilmNorth email list to receive ongoing news and information about the McKnight Media Artist Fellowships.

Questions? Please contact Eric Mueller, Program Administrator, FilmNorth, 651-644-1912, emueller@myfilmnorth.org.