2018 Content Initiative: CMA Digital Studios

What is CMA Digital Studios?

As you are well aware, the digital renaissance is upon us. We have been continually inspired by the growth of the greater Chicago film community, and are excited to help shape a wave of authentic and daring independent voices. We are here to further that growth, and provide a new platform for them to tell their stories.

This year, CMA Digital Studios is proud to provide Chicago artists the capital, experience and road map to reap their own rewards right here in the Midwest. If you are a creator, writer, or producer and have a unique vision that needs funding, we want to hear from you!

We have launched an open call for submissions for ideas and shows from Illinois-based artists and are encouraging YOU to apply!

What are we looking for?

Most importantly, we’re looking for scalable episodic content, and we will produce up to 30 minutes of content for each seriesWe aren’t looking for any specific genre, but are focused on the originality of the idea and the authenticity of the creative voice.

This would be promoted as the official first season of each web series, so the season should be able to be completed within that 30 minute timeframe. 

Each series should have a minimum of three episodes. We are flexible on the total number of episodes, and encourage you to think creatively and develop an episode format that best fits your concept.

A few more things to keep in mind:

  • Live action, documentary, unscripted, and animated content are welcome: please keep the series budget ($50K) in mind when submitting!
  • The online viability of the concept is really important - we're looking to gain traction in the digital space.
  • Audience is important. We want you to have a clear idea of who is going to watch the show, and why they will.
  • Ideas should be able to be efficiently executed within the budget provided, and be able to shoot here in Chicago
  • We are focused exclusively on Chicago and Illinois-based artists for this year.
  • We’re primarily looking for projects in early stages of development with creators/writers attached. If appropriate, we will also consider production positions or cast attachments.

What are the submission requirements?








Below is a list of the submission requirements. The full application can be found here. We'd encourage you to review the application itself and the below list before submitting.

Please note that, for our first season, we are focused exclusively on Illinois-based creators. 

Series Synopsis
Season 1 Synopsis
Key Character Descriptions
Bios/Resumes of Writer(s) / Creator(s) / Individual(s) Attached

Visual References
A minimum of 10 pages of written content    (Script: pilot, multiple episodes, etc...)
Cover Letter: Including things like: what makes this series unique? What was your inspiration? What is your target audience? Why is this a good fit for The eL? And any other important information we should know. 

If selected, what's the process?

Chicago Creatives can submit to the-eL.network. A selection committee of diverse and experienced producers and artists have been organized to curate and select five original series for development from our submissions.

Each series selected by the committee will be produced for $50,000 in 2018. The shows will be released on the eL (yes, this very website!), an online digital magazine dedicated to highlighting independent artists, and providing strategic marketing strategies for new-age digital distribution.

(You can view all of the great folks involved in the Selection Committee HERE).

Creators will with work with the CMA Digital Studiosfteam to develop their content and prepare for production:

Once completed, each series will receive additional resources for marketing, advertising, and digital distribution. Each series will debut on The eL and live online for 6 months. After that, in collaboration with the creators, series can be submitted to television festivals, sales markets, and other platforms in an effort to secure interest/funding for future seasons.

Will I get creative feedback on my work?

As we are expecting a high volume of submissions, we are only able to offer feedback on the projects we select. However, we do promise to keep you very well informed as we move through the selection process. 

Will I retain ownership and credit of my project?

We are here to support and empower independent voices. We are also here to build a really exciting, new-age, digital business model. We want to collaborate with you and build something great together.

Production and development will be led by Angie Gaffney of Black Apple Media. CMA will manage an LLC called CMADS SLATE which will own, manage and monetize the series we create together. 

In addition to production compensation (yes, you will get paid), the submitting creative team will retain a financial interest in the project, and will receive on screen credit as Creator. If selected, a formal contractual offer will be made to the creator(s) outlining the specifics of these agreements. 

We expect creators to be actively involved in the development and production process, and lead the creative vision in partnership with our team. You are the creator, after all!

What is the timeline?

Submissions window closed Wednesday, March 7th at 5:00 PM. At this time, the committee is expecting a 4-6 week review process to make our selections. We will keep all submitters updated on the timeline as we move forward.