Firelight Media was awarded $3,885,000 between 2001 and 2018, including 8 grants in MacArthur Award for Creative & Effective Institutions, Journalism & Media, and Strengthening American Democracy.

$1,500,000

2018 • 3 years • Journalism & Media

Firelight Media (Firelight) is a nonprofit organization that produces in-depth, impactful documentary films and supports early career nonfiction filmmakers of color through its Documentary Lab program. In 2018, it launched the Culture Shift Initiative, a project that brings filmmakers of color together with social justice organizations to identify positive, inclusive narratives that cut across ethnic groups and produce documentaries that illustrate these; as well as Ground Work, an expansion of its Documentary Lab that provides training to filmmakers of color in cities that are disconnected from major hubs of documentary film, with a particular focus on the Midwest and the South. A MacArthur general operating support grant allows Firelight to build capacity in response to its growing role within the field; this results in more comprehensive support for nonfiction filmmakers of color and stories that are more authentic, just, and inclusive. 

$35,000

2017 • 1 year • Journalism & Media

Firelight Media (Firelight) is a nonprofit organization that produces in-depth, impactful documentary films and supports nonfiction filmmakers of color through its Documentary Lab program. This grant supports Firelight to build on its current work for the preliminary stages of the Firelight Culture Shift initiative: a project to produce and strategically distribute short digital documentaries that highlight stories about communities of color and the ways in which they are impacted by critical social issues. The initiative will feature complex stories told by filmmakers directly affected by the key issues. MacArthur support enables Firelight to begin this two-year initiative by funding staff and travel costs associated with this work. The result is that social movement organizations will have a greater understanding of how to use the power of narrative to support a vision for the United States that reinforces its pluralism and diversity and builds connections across disciplines, fields, communities and social movements while countering false and harmful narratives about minority communities.

$1,200,000

2015 • 2 years, 11 months • Journalism & Media

Firelight Media’s Documentary Lab is the largest program in the United States aimed specifically at developing the documentary projects and professional skills of emerging documentary filmmakers of color. Each year, 20 independent filmmakers from around the United States at work on their first or second feature-length social issue documentary film are admitted to the Lab. Over the next 12 to 18 months, they receive, free of charge, multidimensional support designed to help them complete and distribute their documentary projects. The work of Firelight Media’s Documentary Lab results in a range of excellently produced, socially relevant nonfiction stories available to the American public, told from diverse perspectives. These documentaries help to engender more empathy about timely topics. Firelight Media is also increasingly experimenting with new models for helping Lab fellows produce and distribute diverse shorter form content to diverse audiences within the public media system.

$50,000

2014 • 1 year • Strengthening American Democracy

Following the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision, civil rights groups and legal organizations are engaged in coordinated efforts to raise public awareness of the importance of the Voting Rights Act and to work towards full restoration of its role in preventing disenfranchisement of specific groups of voters. In support of this work, Firelight Media will plan and implement a Community Engagement Campaign for its 2014 documentary "Freedom Summer," which will be paired with current voting rights communication strategies, free community discussion guides, and convening opportunities.

$500,000

2014 • 4 years • MacArthur Award for Creative & Effective Institutions

Firelight Media was established in 2000 as a nonprofit film production company dedicated to the creation of social issue documentary films. Over the years, Firelight’s programs expanded through the establishment of a Community Engagement Division to help organizations and communities use documentary film in their work; and the Producers Lab, an intensive mentorship program to help filmmakers of color successfully complete their documentaries. The MACEI grant will be used to (a) rebuild Firelight Media’s cash reserve, and (b) establish an innovation fund through which Firelight and its Producers Lab Fellows can experiment with new storytelling platforms in the digital space.

$300,000

2013 • 2 years • Journalism & Media

Firelight Media identifies and supports filmmakers of color developing and producing documentary film projects on important and under-reported social issues. This grant supports the Producers Lab, which provides one-on-one mentoring and professional development to a cohort of filmmakers each year, and The Next Step Fund, which is a competitive fund that provides small grants to filmmakers with works in progress.

$200,000

2011 • 2 years • Journalism & Media

Created and led by Stanley Nelson, a MacArthur Fellow and award-winning documentary filmmaker, Firelight Media is a nonprofit media organization that provides long-term, one-on-one professional development assistance to independent filmmakers of color. It works with producers and directors with promising documentary film ideas to strengthen every aspect of their project, from the creative and artistic side of the filmmaking process to the business aspects of making, completing and distributing a finished film. This grant enables Firelight Media to begin a small grants program for the producers participating in the Producers Lab, as well as other minority filmmakers.

$100,000

2001 • 11 months • Journalism & Media

To support a documentary film about the Atlantic slave trade.

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