Maimonides Fund Launches Applications for Second Cohort of Digital Storytellers Lab
Up to 15 Creators will be Selected to Develop and Produce New Jewish Stories for Digital Media Platforms
September 12, 2023 – The Digital Storytellers Lab of the Jewish Writers’ Initiative has formally opened the application process for a second cohort of the well-received program.
A project of Maimonides Fund, The Lab is a year-long fellowship that empowers creators to tell Jewish stories in innovative, digital-first ways. Fellows receive a budget of up to $25,000, mentorship, and guidance from technical and subject-matter experts to support the development and production of their projects, within the framework of a supportive, creative community. Applications are due October 30, 2023, and will be reviewed on a rolling basis. The program will run from January 2024 to January 2025.
The second round of The Lab expands on the success of the first iteration of the program, which empowered thirteen digital media creators to develop projects in a variety of media formats and platforms. SnappyDragon’s Youtube fashion history “The Clothes on Their Backs,” Danielle and Galeet Dardashti’s documentary podcast “The Nightingale of Iran,” and Sam Butin’s historical video game “Normandie,” currently in beta, are a few of the projects that came out of the first cohort. (See the Lab’s website for more on the first cohort and their projects.)
“We were delighted with the enthusiastic response to the first program and to the projects developed by the inaugural fellows,” said Maimonides Fund President Mark Charendoff. “With this second cohort, we are taking lessons learned from the first one to help the fellows have an even bigger impact on the audiences they hope to reach, with projects that celebrate the Jewish past, present, and future.”
The Lab is broadening its approach to “storytelling,” and will now be open to both highly-scripted narratives (fiction or nonfiction) and more improvisational, conversational formats. Fellows will spend significant time focusing on production and audience growth, in addition to developing their ideas and writing scripts. They will also have opportunities to consult with experts on their projects’ unique subject matter, enabling them to realize dynamic and authentic stories through access to first-hand sources, historians, Jewish educators and other academics.
Applications are open to individuals or creative teams from across North America, including professional media creators and experienced amateurs, who want to produce projects that explore Jewish culture, values, texts, ritual, or history on digital media platforms like Youtube, Instagram Reels, TikTok, Steam, Itch.io, Webtoon, and podcast networks. Proposals for animation, video game, audio-only, live action, and mixed media projects are welcome.
The program is directed by BimBam creator Sarah Lefton and arts educator Janine Okmin. It is guided by an Advisory Board including Rabbi David Wolpe, producer Jonathan Rubenstein of Crystal City Entertainment, digital audience expert Megan Westerby, storyteller and creative director Corey Rosen of Tippet Studios, filmmaker Liz Nord of NYU Production Lab, Sesame Workshop Senior Director & Supervising Producer Estee Bardanashvili, Meta Director of Product Marketing for Augmented Reality Adam Berger, PRX VP of Strategic Impact Gina James, YouTube executive Jason Cosgrove, and Jewish literature professor and author Jeremy Dauber of Columbia University.
Applications to the Jewish Writers’ Initiative Digital Storytellers Lab can be submitted at https://www.jwinitiative.com/digitalstorytellers
About The Jewish Writers’ Initiative:
The Jewish Writers’ Initiative was founded in 2019 by Maimonides Fund and Crystal City Entertainment as a year-long fellowship supporting the development of film and television scripts that tell diverse Jewish stories, with the ultimate goal of launching these projects into the mainstream media marketplace. The Initiative launched the Digital Storytellers Lab in 2022 to expand its reach to digital media platforms, bringing innovative Jewish stories to new audiences in new ways.
About Maimonides Fund:
Maimonides Fund is a private grantmaking organization that funds in North America and Israel. The Fund is passionate about supporting projects that help the Jewish people grasp their common past and play a role in shaping their shared future.