Lincoln, Neb. (January 20, 2022) – Vision Maker Media (VMM), the premier source of public media by and about Native Americans, announced its 2022 Creative Shorts Fellowship (CSF) to promote and encourage innovative storytelling by emerging Native filmmakers. Requests for CSF funding should include a proposal to film, record, and produce short films to completion, with guidance from a named film professional mentor, and funds productions up to $25,000.

The call for CSF submissions began on Wednesday, January 19, 2022; the deadline is Friday, February 25, 2022, by 5:00 p.m. CST. Selected short film production projects will be notified Spring 2022. 


CSF submissions can vary in different forms, including short film documentaries, dramas, experimental shorts, or animations. Topic ideas may feature Native cultures, values, histories, contemporary life, environmental justice, social justice, youth, elders, and/or Native empowerment.

Through the fellowship, VMM pays an honorarium directly to film professionals, Native or non-Native, to mentor an emerging Native filmmaker. Emerging Native filmmakers find their own mentor for their project. Film professionals, Native or non-Native, may also submit a proposal, following criteria and eligibility, to mentor an emerging Native filmmaker in the production of that emerging filmmaker’s short film. Emerging Native filmmakers must choose their mentor prior to applying and film professionals must choose their mentee prior to applying.

“The Creative Shorts Fellowship program provides aspiring Native American and Alaska Native filmmakers the chance to blend technical expertise with artistic ingenuity to create a short film that is uniquely reflective of their experience,” says VMM Executive Director Francene Blythe-Lewis (Diné, Sisseton-Wahpeton, Eastern Band Cherokee). “The financial support in addition to the mentorship of a seasoned filmmaker can be transformative for our aspiring film visionaries.”

Creative Shorts Fellowship production funding up to $25,000.00 

Requests for funding under this category should be a proposal to film, record, and produce a short film to completion, including the following:

·       Principle photography (including all production activities, hiring of crew, talent and clearance of rights for public media use).

·       Development of a website for the program. 

·       Post-production (including editing and completion). 

Mentors are paid $5,000 separately from the production funding support.

Who is Eligible:

  • Emerging Native filmmakers are encouraged to apply and must hold artistic, budgetary and editorial control and own the copyright of the proposed short film.
  • Film professionals, Native or non-Native, who wish to mentor an emerging Native filmmaker in the production of the emerging filmmaker’s short film, may apply in collaboration with their Native mentee.
  • The proposed project must be a short film of 40 minutes or less.
  • Topics and genres accepted for the Creative Shorts Fellowship can be short film: documentary, drama, experimental, or animation. Topic ideas may be about Native cultures, values, histories, contemporary life, environmental justice, social justice, youth, elders, and/or Native empowerment.
  • The proposed project must be ready for production (The Creative Shorts Fellowship supports production to completion).
  • Production timeline must have completion within 12 months of receiving 1st payment of awarded funding.
  • All completed projects are required to meet the PBS Technical Operating Specifications and Production Guidelines as outlined in the PBS Red Book, online at
  • All applicants must be over 21 years of age, and a U.S. citizen or legal U.S. resident.
  • Proposals must show significant Native American involvement on their production, whether Above the Line, Below the Line or both.
  • Eligible Proposals should meet Vision Maker Media’s mission of empowering and engaging Native people to share stories.


  • Film professionals and film mentors seeking funding for their own short film project.
  • Commercial Programs.
  • Industrial or promotional films and videos.
  • Student productions of any sort, such as thesis films.
  • Filmmakers or production entities that are foreign-based, owned or controlled.
  • Projects funded in part by a government entity or group featured in the content of the short film.

Visit VMM 2022 Guidelines, applications and complete program details for the Creative Shorts Fellowship.


For questions about submitting a proposal, contact:


Phone: 402-472-3522