Project Overview

The Michael O’Pray Prize is an award for new writing on innovation and experimentation in the moving image.

The prize is open to all early-career writers based in the UK and is free to apply to.  Applicants are invited to send a proposal or pitch for a new text, alongside an example of previous writing.

Three of the applicants will be selected to realise the proposed text. From these, there will be a £750 prize for the winner, with £350 each for two further awardees. All three awarded texts will be published by Art Monthly and FVU.

Find out more about the prize, application process and eligibility below. 
All applications should be submitted to by 12 noon, 31 May 2024.


About the Prize

The Prize is named in memory of the critic, historian and film programmer, Michael O’Pray. The guiding presence behind Film and Video Umbrella in its early years (1985-1990), Mike taught at University of East London for over two decades, and was a regular contributor to the pages of Art Monthly. 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 the aims of the prize is that the platform it offers helps writers to receive future writing commissions. Previous winners have gone on to contribute new articles for Art Monthly and other publications.

The 2024 Panel

Applications and final texts will be considered by a panel comprising: 

Alice Hattrick, writer, lecturer and author of ‘Ill Feelings’.
Ghislaine Leung, Turner Prize nominated conceptual artist.
Dr Terry Bailey, Senior Lecturer, Programme Leader, Creative and Professional Writing, University of East London.
Chris McCormack, Associate Editor, Art Monthly.
Angelica Sule, Director, Film and Video Umbrella.

What is the Prize?

£750 prize for the winner.
£350 each for two further awardees.

All three awarded texts will be published online by Art Monthly and FVU.


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. This does not include self-publishing. 

The Michael O'Pray Prize is open to submissions from writers based anywhere in the UK. We unfortunately cannot accept applications from those based internationally. 

Submissions must be in English, though we welcome applications from writers for whom English is a second or additional language. 

There is no age limit for applicants. 

No formal education or qualifications are required to apply to this prize. 

More information can be found via. the FAQ section. We welcome applications on artists’ film and moving image artworks from those whose voices and perspectives have historically and continue to be marginalised. If you have any questions about eligibility please email We will be responding to questions at regular intervals between the 9 April and 29 May.

How to apply

Your application must include the following three elements:

1. A previous writing sample (1200 words maximum). This can be a whole article/text, or an extract, and could be previously published or unpublished. The aim of the prize is to support writers who can enliven and popularise discussion of the experimental spirit in film and video art; therefore, ideally, the sample of writing that you submit would be about artists’ moving image and/or experimental cinema. If you have not previously written about this medium, your sample text could focus on other visual arts media, or assume another form of cultural criticism.

2. A 300-350 word proposal/pitch for a new text on artists’ moving image or experimental cinema. If you are selected as a finalist, you would go on to write the finished text, to be published by Art Monthly and FVU. The text you are pitching to write, if realised, should be between 1,250 – 1,500 words. Your proposal could consist of a straightforward review of a forthcoming exhibition, or an existing piece of work; a survey of a wider trend or historical moment in the medium; or it could take a more creative and experimental form. We strongly recommend reading the previously awarded texts, as well as looking at writing published with Art Monthly and texts previously published on FVU’s Writing section. 

3. A CV. Please include your full name (or the name under which you write), phone number, email address and the region in the UK where you are based. For the first assessment of your application by the panel, your name and other identifiers will be redacted. CVs should be no more than two sides of A4, at 11pt font or larger and should include details of any previously published articles/texts. [NB re eligibility: excluding self-publishing, entrants should have had no more than four articles about the arts or experimental film published in print or online.]

Please email these three items to before the submission deadline, 12 noon, 31 May 2024.

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