Program Dates –
Oct 1 to Jan 15

Applications Open –
Aug 28, 2020

Deadline –
Sept 13, 2020

Program Fee – 

Info Session
September 11, 1PM EST

CoLAB Fall 2020: media-making for the future we want

This fall and winter promises more flux. The continued pandemic, the enduring uprising, and an election process threatened; obstacles and sharp curves lie ahead on the tracks and our approach is swift. During this time of instability, protest and anxiety, how can we work together, learn and make our energies available to serve the future we want.

UnionDocs hopes to build from our experience running the Collaborative Studio (read more about the CoLAB here), but retool this well established program to fit current necessities. This new opportunity will be shorter, but more concentrated with participation offered in-residence or remotely; still engaged with theory and practice, but geared to explicitly support political media production, mutual aid, direct action, and urgent praxis.

Program Dates –
Oct 1 to Jan 15

Applications Open –
Aug 28, 2020

Deadline –
Sept 13, 2020

Program Fee – 

AlexaLIMHAAS Exercise

Seeking Artists, Activists,
Designers, Coders, Collaborators!

Together with artist and activist Kelly Gallagher, UnionDocs aims to bring media artists of all disciplines together (filmmakers, animators, designers, writers, audio-makers, coders, architects, printmakers and more) in a context of mutual support, creative production and solidarity. During a 14 week focused-engagement, the group will pursue a set of short creative exercises with the intention of providing aid to social movements in expedient and inventive forms, while planting seeds for larger future projects. Rather than striving towards a final singular product, we’ll focus on process, opening up to trial, error and group critique, making sketches, drafts and ideas that can be immediately tested.

Six artists will be invited to become residents at UnionDocs, entering a productive bubble, living and working together in the space from October 1 – January 15. Six artists will be invited to join remotely from anywhere in the world. All 12 will come together to form a supportive cohort to engage in master classes, and research sessions with representatives from grass roots organizations and social movements, and regular project development meetings. Production cycles will be rapid 2 week sprints, and we plan to produce work in four project areas, supporting four different ongoing political struggles.


Kelly Gallagher

Artist Lead

Kelly Gallagher is a filmmaker, animator, and Assistant Professor of Film at Syracuse University. Her award winning films and commissioned animations have screened internationally at venues including: the Museum of Modern Art, The National Gallery of Art, Sundance Film Festival, the Smithsonian Institution, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Sheffield Doc/Fest, the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry, and Black Maria Film Festival. She’s presented solo programs of her work at institutions including: UnionDocs, the Wexner, Haverford College, UC Santa Cruz, Oberlin, and Sight Unseen, among many others. Kelly enthusiastically organizes and facilitates film workshops, camps, and masterclasses for communities and groups of all ages.

Artist Statement

I am an experimental filmmaker and animator based in Syracuse, New York. I am primarily interested in handcrafted filmmaking and exploring the ways in which experimental and handcrafted animations make labor visible, aesthetically gesturing towards the workers behind their production. I am invested in exploring the ways in which experimental and handcrafted animation forms and techniques can be utilized to address political inquiries and concerns, and stories of resistance. I am also deeply interested in the ways in which handcrafted animation, in the Walter Benjamin sense, invite authors to be producers, (or spectators to be creators), because of the extreme accessibility of tools employed in handmade practices. Additionally, I am intrigued by the political possibilities of collage and its’ ability to call attention to the mediation of its’ production.

More specifically, I make colorful collage films, experimental videos, and found footage essays that strive to visually explore histories and movements of resistance. For my experimental animation work, I construct paper cut-out collages which I animate on a multi-tiered system of glass panes, utilizing everyday objects and available materials. In addition to cut-out collage animation, I also work with 16mm found/ confiscated footage, 16mm clear leader, oil paint animation, hand-drawn rotoscoping, and any tangible and palpable animation form I can quite literally “get my hands on.” Recently, I have been exploring ways to incorporate my experimental animation techniques alongside live action film. I also have begun exploring digital animation practices in my own work, and the ways in which the work of “the hand” translates through these modes of production.

Thematically, my films often ask questions about topics of left revolutionary history. Other times my films serve as confrontations themselves, resistance made visual. I am interested in both explorations: film as a tool to re-open, re-discuss, re-discover forgotten or untold histories, and film as a tool of confrontation. Several works of mine also explore the deeply personal, and are more essayistic. I believe that film/video and animation hold an important space of potentiality for artists who want to create visualizations of resistance to racism, exploitation, capitalism, imperialism, patriarchy, and colonialism. By creating visualizations of resistance in my films, I seek to offer visual sparks of encouragement and hope to those engaged in struggle. When I first saw radical feminist filmmaker Lizzie Borden’s beautiful film Born in Flames, I felt encouraged by the women on screen fighting back against sexual harassers. I felt connected to them through their confrontations and struggles. Film as confrontation and visualized resistance is imperative for me in my work because by creating visualized representations of a world in which our impact actually ruptures capitalism and systemic patriarchy and racism, we are given the realization that such a world can even in fact exist and that our political efforts are not in vain, but are in fact imperative.

By primarily using tools that are easily accessible (paper, glitter, crayons, paint, markers, magazines, scissors), I also attempt to call attention to form and accessible practices for filmmakers. Creating film/video works that use tools readily available is important to me because I firmly believe culture should be both accessible by all and created by all. This is also why community engagement and organizing film and animation workshops when I can is imperative to me.

My theoretical interests and explorations include: examining the radical potential of film and animation, the feminist politics of handcrafted cinema, and the politics of distribution and accessibility. In Walter Benjamin’s seminal essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” Benjamin states: “The technique of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the domain of tradition. By making many reproductions it substitutes a plurality of copies for a unique existence. And in permitting the reproduction to meet the beholder or listener in his own particular situation, it reactivates the object reproduced.” Agreeing with Benjamin, I strongly believe that film’s inherent ability to be reproduced and shared among the masses is explicitly why I choose film/video as my artistic medium for political and personal expression and exploration.


Against perfection, for action!

We don’t have all the answers; this is a space to explore together and try new things. The ethos will be one of eschewing perfection, understanding the value of acknowledging failures and vulnerability and as a space of open experimentation.

UnionDocs Collaborative Studio

Tactics to explore

– message creation & amplification through short videos & memes
– the experimental newsreel & hyperlocal & immediate response media
– the power of simple image and text, protest slogans and song
– instructional and procedural media
– site-specific, public interventions and performance
– shared research through interview, oral history, and archives
– personal response and essay
– data representation and narrative
– media for self care and meditation

Last Stop For Lost Property Test

Opening Up Process

These efforts will be pursued in parallel by individuals and small teams in the group, but a collective output is also planned. With support from UnionDocs, the group will produce a bi-weekly show recapping the efforts, ideas, events and conversations they’ve had; a kind of cable-access compilation on Twitch or group video diary / guerilla television experiment on Vimeo, garnering inspiration from the early days UnionDocs “Commons Radio”, as well as the VideoFreex, TVTV, Ant Farm, and Now! Journal. The thought is to document the collective dialogue and to extend this unique experience to others interested in following along. A lowkey, experimental live-stream will be quickly edited into short episodes, with highlights from project discussions, masterclasses, and partner conversations included.


– 16 project development meetings (Mondays & Wednesdays @ 5:30p)


– 9 masterclasses with visiting artists chosen to skill share tactics and provoke new ideas (Sundays @ 4p) designed in collaboration with Nadiya Nacorda


– 8 meetings with partners from grassroots orgs providing instruction, access and feedback


– 6 episodes of “The Commons Live” livestream


– Bi-weekly BBQs

Participation Requirements

– We estimate the program will require around 25 hours each week (7 hours in meetings, 5 hours reading/watching, 12 hours of production). Meetings will be scheduled on evenings and weekends, and production is on your own time.


– $1500 program fee (crowdfunding option available, and full 2 scholarships offered for BIPOC artists). This fee is subsidized with grant contributions and offered as low as possible given costs associated with running the studio, which include general operating, artists fees, guest honoraria, and contributions to partner organizations.


 – Residency option is $1000 / month all inclusive (full details here)


Program Support

Christopher Allen Portrait

Christopher Allen

Founder / Executive Artistic Director

Christopher Allen is a producer/director of documentary media projects and a programmer of multi-disciplinary events. After graduating from Columbia University, he co-founded UnionDocs and has been responsible for the organization’s growth from grassroots as the Executive Artistic Director. The collaborative projects he initiated — including Living Los Sures, Just to Get By, Documenting Mythologies, and Yellow Arrow — unite the creative efforts of hundreds of artists, documentary makers and communities. He directed the early interactive documentary Capitol of Punk, exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art. In 2014 and 2016, Brooklyn Magazine named him one of the most influential people in Brooklyn culture. Christopher has served on the juries of film festivals such as RIDM (Montreal) and Doc Lisboa, and on funding panels such as NYSCA and LEF. He collaborates on live media performance projects such as Say Something Bunny! with artist A.S.M. Kobayashi.

martine granby

Martine Granby

Producer of Workshops and Labs

Martine Granby is a visual storyteller. She has worked as a documentarian, producer, editor, video journalist and educator for The New York Times, Kartemquin Films, Kindling Group, City Bureau, BRIC TV and Global Girl Media, an organization empowering young women with the tools for visual journalism to tell their own stories. As a Producer with the Brooklyn-based BRICTV, Martine co-produced and directed the Emmy-winning #BHeard documentary series, #BHeard Town Halls and magazine-style show Going In With Brian Vines. She is currently the Producer of Workshops & Labs at UnionDocs; a non-profit Center for Documentary Art that presents, produces, publishes, and educates. As a fellow with Kartemquin Film’s Diverse Voices in Docs program, she started production on her current film THE MASK THAT GRINS AND LIES. Martine holds an M.A. from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, and is a proud member of Brown Girls Doc Mafia.

ZK Headshot COLOR (1) (1)

Zack Khalil

Artist mentor on-site in residence

Zack Khalil is a filmmaker and artist from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, currently based in Brooklyn, NY. His work centers indigenous narratives in the present—and looks towards the future—through the use of innovative nonfiction forms. His work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Lincoln Center, Walker Arts Center, New York Film Festival, and the Sundance Film Festival among other institutions. Khalil is the recipient of various fellowships and grants, including the Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship, Sundance Art of Nonfiction Grant, and the Gates Millennium Scholarship. Khalil received his BA from Bard College.

jenny miller

Jenny Miller

Co-Artistic Director

Jenny has worked as a producer/editor/organizer dedicated to community arts programming with a penchant for nonfiction for the past 10 years. She likes to bring curiosity, care, and a strong political stake in bolstering local arts communities through collaborative practice, open dialogue and diverse programming to her work here at UnionDocs. She has lived in Virginia, Ohio, Chicago, and Brooklyn and has spent time volunteering for and working with New Frontier at Sundance Film Festival, Chicago Filmmakers, Chicago Artists Coalition, Rooftop Films, MOMA PS1, Printed Matter Inc, Renegade Craft Fair and The Dissolve at Pitchfork Media. While at The Nightingale Cinema in Chicago, she helped launch their roving, experimental documentary series Run Of Life. Jenny received a B.A. in English + Cinema Studies from Oberlin where she took an interdisciplinary approach to her studies which centered documentary arts, artists’ books, pop culture and DIY publishing / exhibition practices.


Alison S. M. Kobayashi

Special Projects

Alison S. M. Kobayashi makes short videos and performances that have been exhibited widely in Canada, the United States and overseas. She was a guest artist at the 2008 Flaherty Film Seminar and her body of work was a Spotlight Presentation at Video Out, Jakarta International Film Festival, Indonesia and is a 2016 Yaddo and MacDowell Colony fellow. In 2012, she was commissioned by Les Subsistances in Lyon, France to produce her first live performance, Defense Mechanism. She is the creator and star of the New York Times Critics Pick, Say Something Bunny! Alison S. M Kobayashi was born in Mississauga, Ontario and is based in Toronto and Brooklyn, NY where she is the Director of Special Projects at UnionDocs.


Nadiya Nacorda


Nadiya Nacorda is a Blasian artist, photographer and Taurus currently living and working in Syracuse, NY. She was born in Detroit, MI to a Filipinx immigrant father and a Xhosa mother. Throughout the year, she travels around the country photographing her immediate family. Her work heavily draws from notions of intimacy, affection, displacement, secrecy, and generational trauma within the context of Black and POC immigrant-American family life.

Nadiya received her BFA in Photography & Film from VCU Arts in Richmond, VA. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Art Photography at Syracuse University’s School of Visual and Performing Arts. Her work has been exhibited at the Midwest Center for Photography, the Detroit Public Library art gallery, RISD’s Red Eye Gallery in Providence, RI, and Candela Books + Gallery in Richmond, VA. She is also a 2019 finalist of the Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward competition and was selected for the 2020 Lit List: Photographers to watch, hire and exhibit.