Southern Exposure Application for 2021 fellowship

Documenting the Struggle and Successes

 for Environmental Protection in Alabama 

A Multimedia Summer Fellowship Sponsored by the Alabama Rivers Alliance

Fellowship Dates :

 June 14 – July 24, 2021 or

June 21 – July 30, 2021

Deadline to apply: March 12, 2021


Click here to download a PDF of these application requirements.


NOTE: Depending on the COVID-19 situation, the format of the fellowship may change. This decision will be made before interviews are conducted mid-April.

Now in its 9th 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 [if in-person]
  • 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 to Alabama 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. NOTE: Due to COVID-19 precautions, the fellows will not be housed together.


The following materials must be received via email by March 12, 2021 in order for you to be considered for the program.

  1. COVER LETTER that answers the following two questions:
    1. What is it that you hope to gain from participation in this fellowship program?
    2. 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 [email protected] ***


Films should be uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo as indicated above and emailed separately to [email protected].  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 [email protected].

Applicants will be notified of their status by mid-April 2021. *Some dates are subject to change, but will be announced well in advance.


About Michele Forman, Series Producer for Southern Exposure Films

Michele Forman is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and co-founder / director of Media Studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Forman gained her experience as an executive in feature films.  As Director of Development at Spike Lee’s 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, she was responsible for the acquisition and development of new projects.  In addition, Forman served as associate producer on Mr. Lee’s Academy Award-nominated film 4 Little Girls, a feature-length documentary for HBO about the bombing of the Sixteenth Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963.

Since then, Forman has been directing and producing documentary projects for film and television, earning an Emmy nomination for Coat of Many Colors (2001).  Her feature-length documentary Climb for the Cause: A Breast Cancer Story (2007) documents five women who became activists for women’s health after surviving breast cancer.  The film sent Forman up Mt. Kilimanjaro, one of the world’s tallest peaks. She also produced the multiple award-winning documentary Alabama Bound (2017), which explores the legal roller-coaster ride of LGBTQ family rights in the South over the last decade. Learn more about her by clicking here.