Southern Exposure 2023 Application


Documenting the Struggle and Celebrating the Successes of Environmental Protection in Alabama

 A Multimedia Summer Fellowship Sponsored by the Alabama Rivers Alliance

Fellowship Dates:  June 12 – July 21, 2023 

DEADLINE TO APPLY is March 15, 2023 in order for you to be considered for the program.




Now in its 11th year, the Southern Exposure Film Fellowship program provides a 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. Click here to view past films. You can view past collections by changing the year at the top.



Southern Exposure believes in a community-based documentary approach. Throughout the year, the Alabama Rivers Alliance works with their partner organizations all over Alabama and the Southeast to discover the stories most important to their local communities. We generate a big list of film ideas and vote on the most timely and engaging film topics that the selected fellows will create during the fellowship. These topics generally fit into four categories:

    • An urgent issue with a direct call to action that needs to be taken on an issue in the next few months to a  year

    • celebration of a special person or place or species.  This is what we are all fighting for!

    • A film that introduces ARA and our partners to a new audience, further educating, informing and expanding our movement to protect our natural resources

    • A long-term issue that needs to be effectively communicated to audiences in order to help them understand the policy and advocacy needed for an issue to be resolved

ARA and our partners decide on the four film topics and the selected film fellows will rank-choice vote their preferences. Series Producer Michele Forman will work her special magic to assign the right film topic with the right filmmaker. Film fellows will receive a packet of information about their topic before the fellowship begins and will have a community contact to help them hit the ground running when they arrive in Alabama.




Week One: You’ll arrive in Birmingham and meet your fellow fellows. We’ll have a little shindig to welcome you, and you’ll meet your community partners and get to know some incredible Alabamians. You’ll get an engaging crash course in Alabama and our politics from some experts and you’ll spend a day on the river with an awesome Riverkeeper. You’ll set up your office and explore downtown Birmingham and have your first meeting with your key contacts. Your very first interview will also happen this week. Don’t worry – we will have already set that up for you.

Week Two & Three: You’ll be developing your story with Michele and your key partner, and conducting interviews and gathering b-roll as much as you can. We’ll help coordinate you with other fellows to help crew for each other to help with production as well as travel buddies. All along the way, ARA will be helping coordinate interviews, travel schedules, developing contacts, etc. You will discover contacts and community members on your own as well!

Week Four & Five: As your story begins to take real shape, we’ll be showing radio edits to partners and ARA staff to get feedback and to find where holes need to be filled. You’ll be editing a lot during these weeks, and we will try to force you to have some fun too, like swimming, crafting, movie watching and more!

Week Six: You will be in crazy final editing mode. We have some talented folks who can help get final pick ups, but by this week, all of your production should be complete. We will have another super fun party to celebrate your incredible hard work and we’ll screen a rough draft of your film with community partners from across the state. We’ll have a final farewell and be sad our time together has ended … for now.

Bonus Week Seven: Once you’ve returned home and had a moment away from the intense schedule of the fellowship, you’ll have an extra week to make the final finishing touches on your film. We will host the World Premiere in September and will hope you return for that celebration!



Applicants will be notified of their status by mid-April 2023. The fellowship runs from June 12 – July 21, 2023  *Some dates are subject to change, but will be announced well in advance. 



Email Kelly Marshall at [email protected]