Project Overview

The Michael O’Pray Prize returns for a second year, as an award for new writing on innovation and experimentation in the moving image. Applications for 2018 are now closed. To be notified when we reopen for applications in future years, please sign up to our e-bulletin here. We also announce all of our open calls via social media. 

The Prize is named in memory of the critic, historian and film programmer, Michael O’Pray. Over the course of his long and varied career, Mike was an impassioned and energetic champion of avant-garde cinema, highlighting the continuing influence of key figures from the past, while dynamically promoting contemporary talents in experimental film and video. In his writings, and in the many programmes he curated for Film and Video Umbrella and elsewhere, Mike always endeavoured to make radical, challenging, occasionally esoteric work accessible to a wider public – and it is with this in mind that the award seeks to encourage examples of imaginative, engaging writing that extols and advances this longstanding tradition of experimentation in film and video for a non-specialist audience.

What is the Prize?

The prize consists of:

- £500 prize

- Winning texts will be published by Art Monthly

One of our aims for the prize is that the platform it offers helps writers to receive future writing commissions. Previous winners have each gone on to contribute new articles for Art Monthly.

Who is eligible?

- The Prize is aimed at writers starting out in their careers. Therefore you must have had no more than three articles published in print or online.

- For the first time, we will be open to applications from both the UK and internationally, though submissions must be in the English Language.

- There is no age limit to apply.

How to Apply:

Please submit the following three things when you apply:

1. A piece of writing of no more than 1,500 words. Texts should not have been previously published, in part or in whole. Texts submitted should be complete articles, rather than extracts, and should be print ready. We are not looking for academic dissertations, or specialist scholarly papers, couched in highly technical/theoretical language. We are interested in discovering and supporting new voices who can enliven and popularise discussion of the experimental spirit in film and video.

2. CV of no more than two sides of A4, at no smaller than font size 11pt. Please be sure to include details of previously published articles/texts.

3. Completed Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form. This will be processed separately from your application and will not affect your eligibility for the opportunity. You can download this here: PDF / Word

Please submit these three items via email to:


The Panel:

Applicants will be considered by an expert panel, including:

Erika Balsom, writer and senior lecturer in Film Studies at King’s College London; Hannah Black, artist and writer; Steven Bode, Director, FVU; Stephen Maddison, Director of Research, University of East London; Chris McCormack, Associate Editor, Art Monthly


With the exception of the Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form, the personal data you give us in applying to this prize will be used to process your application for the Michael O’Pray Prize by Film and Video Umbrella and Art Monthly and will be shared with external members of the selection panel – Erika Balsom, Hannah Black and Stephen Maddison. We will only contact you in connection to this application. Your personal data will be kept by both Film and Video Umbrella and Art Monthly for up to 10 years and will only be used by each organisation for their own research, evaluation, reporting and marketing analysis for opportunities. It will not be passed on to anyone else. If you want to be removed from either organisation’s database you can email Susanna Chisholm: and Chris McCormack: You have the right to contact the Information Commissioner’s Office should you wish to complain about how your information has been handled.

The guiding presence behind Film and Video Umbrella in its early years (1985-1990), Michael O’Pray taught at UEL for over two decades, and was a regular contributor to the pages of Art Monthly.

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