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ASCB Celldance Contest

celdance2014CELLDANCE 2014

Celldance Studios Presents:

Tell Your Own Cell Story!

ASCB’s Public Information Committee, the longtime producer of Celldance, is now a microscopic motion picture producer! For Celldance 2014, we will commission three “Tell Your Own Cell Story” videos at $1000 each to be shot through live cell imaging on location in the labs of ASCB members. We are looking for films that balance an accessible narrative, rock solid science, and awesome imagery.

The three Celldance Studios video productions are aimed at classrooms and the whole world. The three ASCB-commissioned labs will deliver a rough-cut of their video to Celldance Studios (also known as ASCB’s Public Information Committee), which will provide post-production services before unveiling the cell story videos at a special live online press conference and at the ASCB/IFCB 2014 Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.

Celldance Studios will directly solicit “Tell Your Own Cell Story” proposals from ASCB member labs known for their high quality imaging. In addition, we are also seeking self-nominated proposals from ASCB member labs. The deadline for pitching your “Tell Your Own Cell Story” video proposal to us is July 31, 2014. Once commissioned, the three ASCB member labs will be expected to deliver a rough-cut video by October 31, 2014.

To pitch your cell story video to Celldance Studios, send us a short description (800 words tops) or simple storyboard describing the cell story you wish to tell on video. Give us a brief description of your imaging methods, and, if possible, include a link to a sample clip of your lab’s video work. (The video clip does not have to be about the proposed cell story but should showcase your lab’s technical prowess.) Send your pitch or direct your questions to PIC liaison John Fleischman, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

But first, read the following explanation of what Celldance Studios is looking for.

Our Purpose for Commissioning “Tell Your Own Cell Story”

The fundamental unit of life is the cell. The intricate functions of organs and tissues in our bodies are derived from the function of their constituent cells. As cell biologists, we visualize cells through microscopes and tell stories using video microscopy about how cells move, communicate, and divide. This knowledge illuminates how our bodies grow, develop, and function normally. These stories also reveal how changes in cell function lead to cancer, neurodegeneration, and birth defects. The ASCB’s Public Information Committee is launching the Celldance Studios to underwrite and promote high-quality video microscopy that shows the essential workings of this most important basic unit of life—the cell. 

Tell Your Own Cell Story

This is your science story. Tell it visually. Walk us through your latest breakthrough experiment or make visible a classic story such as cell division. Or show what cancer cells look like, how they behave, or why they are different. Use video imaging to reveal the wonders, dangers, and beauties of your field of research. Make the world take note of your protein or mechanism or the beauty you see every day in your lab. Celldance Studios is looking for three microscopic blockbusters to unleash on the largest possible audience—the news media, the web, biology educators, and the curious world.

How we will commission films

Celldance Studios will directly solicit “Tell Your Own Cell Story” from ASCB member labs known for their high quality imaging as well as seeking self-nominated proposals from ASCB member labs. Any ASCB member is invited to contact Celldance Studios (through This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) for information on submitting a short pitch or simple storyboard for commissioning. The commissioned labs will each receive $1000 to cover time, materials, and everything else needed to deliver a rough cut three-minute video. Celldance Studios will provide post-production services including a professional videographer for final editing, titles, credits, and a narration, if necessary. ASCB will also either provide or verify a legal music soundtrack.

This is a commission, not a contest. If commissioned, the only prize for your eye-popping cell story will be fame.

The deadline for “Tell Your Cell Story” video proposals is July 31, 2014. Celldance Studios will announce the three commissioned ASCB labs on August 15, 2014. Once commissioned, the three ASCB member labs will be expected to deliver a rough-cut video no later than October 31 (Halloween), 2014. The three “Tell Your Own Cell Story” films will be premiered at a special online video press conference and at the ASCB’s 54th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia on December 9, 2014.

Our Criteria and Our Hopes

In soliciting and evaluating ideas for the 2014 Celldance Studio commissions, we are looking for, above all, effective video storytelling:

  1. We want to commission engaging and striking cellular imagery.
  2. We want the video to tell a story about the cell imagery and its significance to human biology or to disease relevance.
  3. We want a brief description of the cells being examined and a simple but clear explanation for a public audience of any specialized techniques used to visualize them.
  4. Without sacrificing scientific accuracy, we look for simple language and clear metaphors or analogies that a lay audience would understand.
  5. Science comes from scientists and we don’t mind having a scientist on camera explaining what’s going on. Your call.

Some further explanation and some fine print

Each commissioned film unit will have a PIC member serving as a production liaison to coordinate with ASCB on free/legal music tracks or a narration as well as titles, credits, and a final edit. ASCB will make all three finished films available for free public streaming or downloading through a Creative Commons license for non-profit and educational use. All other rights will remain with the filmmakers.

*An ASCB member lab is defined as a research lab in which at least one researcher is a current ASCB member. There can be more than one ASCB member working on the commissioned video but for the purposes of Celldance 2014, we ask that one ASCB member be designated as the lab’s Executive Producer. All correspondence, payments, and legal rights will flow through the Executive Producer.