Project Overview

Returning for its third year, The Michael O’Pray Prize is an award for new writing on innovation and experimentation in the moving image. From a field of high-quality applications submitted last November, this year’s panellists chose two winners: Cassandre Greenberg and Laura Jacobs, each of whom have been awarded prize-money of £500. Cassandre and Laura’s winning texts are published by Art Monthly and can be read here:

Cassandre Greenberg, 2019 prize recipient

Laura Jacobs, 2019 prize recipient

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.

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 and an array of other publications.

Testimonial from Lauren Houlton, Michael O’Pray prize recipient 2017:

“For a while I have wanted to start organising screenings as a way to push forward my own research, and my most recent piece for Art Monthly has helped me (finally!) get moving on this. Some might think that this is not a big deal, but there is no way that I would have had the confidence to programme more independently, and the Michael O'Pray Prize has been so important, both in building this confidence and in driving my own research forward through the platform that Art Monthly offers. So I wanted to say thank you and highlight the way that the prize has helped me get to this point.”

You can read the winning texts from the previous awardess here:

Adam Hines-Green 2018 prize recipient

Lauren Houlton 2017 prize recipient

Dan Ward 2017 prize recipient


The Panel:

Submissions were considered by an expert panel including:

Dr Terry Bailey, Senior Lecturer, Programme Leader, Creative and Professional Writing, University of East London

Steven Bode, Director, FVU

Helen Cammock, artist and Turner Prize 2019 nominee

Chrissie Iles, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz curator, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Chris McCormack, Associate Editor, Art Monthly




What is the Prize?

The prize consists of:

- £500 prize

- Winning texts are published by Art Monthly


Submission Criteria:

- The Prize is aimed at writers starting out in their careers, having had no more than four articles about the arts or experimental film published in print or online.

- The Michael O'Pray Prize is open to submissions from both the UK and internationally, though submissions must be in the English Language.

- There is no age limit to submit.


How to Submit:

Please submit the following three things:

1. A piece of writing of no more than 1,500 words. Please state the word count of the piece – either in the document or the email. 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 submission and will not affect your eligibility for the opportunity. You can download this here.

Please submit these three items via email to:




With the exception of the Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form, the personal data you give us in submitting to this prize will be used to process your submission 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. We will only contact you in connection to this submission. 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 tocomplain about how your information has been handled.



How strict is the four article limit? / What if I have had published more than four articles but they aren’t all about artists’ moving image, or experimental film? 

We are predominantly interested to discover new voices in arts criticism, particularly those writing about artists’ moving image work. However, if for example you have had a few more than four articles published, but these are about other things, unrelated to the visual arts or film, then we would still consider your application. If however you are a very established writer in another field, then it is probably not worth your applying, as you may be able to make the transition into arts criticism another way.

Does self-publishing count towards my four published article limit?


What if I have never had an article published before?

There is no minimum. If you are an unpublished or inexperienced writer, with an ambition to break into the world of arts criticism, then you are exactly who we are looking for to apply.

Does the submitted text need to be about a recent film or exhibition?

No. It can be about older/more historical work.

If we write collaboratively, are we able to apply as a duo, or group?

Yes. So long as under the authorship of that duo or group you have not had more than four articles published in print or online. If however one or more in the group are already established writers, we may consider you ineligible, depending on the balance of experienced writers to inexperienced writers.

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