Open Call Webinars: How to Craft Work Samples, Treatments, and Budgets

In the lead up to the Open Call deadline on August 5th, ITVS is hosting a series of webinars to provide support, insight and tips for upcoming applicants. This post will be updated with taped webinars for reference, but we’d love to answer your questions in real time. Please RSVP at the links below!

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Writing the ITVS Treatment
We break down the ITVS program description requirements and see excerpts of successful treatments.
Speaker: N’Jeri Eaton, Content Development & Initiative Manager
Guest Speakers: Reuben Atlas (Director/Producer of Brothers Hypnotic)

 
Creating Competitive Work Samples
Learn how to craft strong work samples that will make your project competitive for Open Call. Watch several successfully funded work samples and ask the filmmakers about their editing process.
Speaker: N’Jeri Eaton, Content Development & Initiative Manager
Guest Speakers: Sabrina S. Gordon (Producer of Quest: The Fury and the Sound)

 

Basic Budgeting for ITVS
Monday, July 25th, at 10am PT/1pm ET
RSVP here: https://ovee.itvs.org/screenings/ybhhc
Hear how to craft a budget for ITVS that will get your film finished on time and pay everyone an equitable salary.
Speaker: David Eisenberg, Associate Director of Production

Open Call Live Chat
Monday, August 1st, at 10am PT/1pm ET
RSVP here: https://ovee.itvs.org/screenings/sdhp2
From application troubleshooting to distribution, and everything that falls in-between, the Open Call team will be on hand to answer any last minute questions before the deadline.
Moderator: Alex Cantin, Programming Coordinator
Speakers: David Eisenberg, Associate Director of Production

Make sure to connect with us on Twitter and Facebook for important updates on Open Call. For more information about Open Call visit: http://www.itvs.org/funding/open-call

In Remembrance of Filmmaker Roland Legiardi-Laura

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By Cathy Fischer, Digital Supervising Producer

It is with great sadness that we say farewell to independent filmmaker, poet, beloved teacher, activist and storyteller, Roland Legiardi-Laura who died April 20, 2016.

We welcomed Roland into the ITVS family in 2008 with his documentary To Be Heard, which he co-directed and produced with Edwin Martinez, Deborah Shaffer, and Amy Sultan. To Be Heard tells the story of three high school poets from the Bronx who use their words to change their lives and impact the world. A gentle force of nature, Roland changed the lives of many through his storytelling, mentorship, and loving support.

With the assistance of ITVS and BAVC, and as an extension of the film To Be Heard, Roland created Power Poetry, the world’s first mobile poetry community for youth. At PowerPoetry.org poets share their work, comment and collaborate, get action guides, writing tips, and even college scholarships. As the website says: “Power Poetry isn’t just about poetry. It is about using poetry as a tool, a weapon, if you will, for personal change and social engagement.”

In Roland’s own words:

“As a doc filmmaker, I have always produced my films with the intention of making the storytelling not only emotionally and narratively compelling but socially impactful as well….

[In just three short years, Power Poetry] has changed the lives of young writers in our country. They come from all 50 states…. They come from all backgrounds: The vast majority are young people from families of very modest means. They now have a national platform allowing them ‘to be heard’, and we have given voice to youth whose urgent and beautiful cries for personal transformation and societal change echo across the entire country.”  

A mentor and believer, enthusiastic, patient, and wise, Roland made sure that young people led the charge behind the scenes as well. With a small, young but able team, Power Poetry has grown to a community of 250,000 poets who truly believe their words have power.

Roland’s legacy lives on through Power Poetry and the teacher training Power Writers program (including this new free online course “How to Teach Poetry”). He created the To Be Heard Foundation to keep his work going. 

Roland will be deeply missed by many. On his Facebook page, students, colleagues, and friends leave their heartfelt remembrances and tributes. From Power Writers co-founder Joseph Ubiles:

“…A warrior of the word has passed. an intellectual, humanist, classicist, modernist, dreamer and believer in the humanity of us all. A trickster rabbit, a sage. Returned now to starlight. Your place in our circle remains, a sly grin, a haunted chair, a demand for courage and compassion. A warrior recedes into the oceans of stars….”

 

ITVS Hires Inaugural Director of Development

unnamedITVS has brought in Alberto Villaluna as the organization’s inaugural Director of Development, to lead ITVS’s fundraising strategies in an effort to grow its visibility and diversify its financial resources. Villaluna comes with over 15 years of experience establishing successful relationships with individual donors, foundations, and corporate partners, including creating dynamic models to increase board and volunteer committee engagement within mission-driven organizations. He most recently served as Corporate Relations Consultant with the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA, where he focused on strategies to increase corporate partnerships.

Prior to CHM, Villaluna spent five years as Vice President of the Senior Fellows Network at American Leadership Forum (ALF) – Silicon Valley. During his tenure, Villaluna worked closely with the ALF Board of Directors, the Campaign Cabinet, Network Development and Fellowship committees to increase ALF’s funding. His work with ALF Board and Committee leadership resulted in record increases in tuition revenue, ALF Fellows joining the program, and Senior Fellows engaged with the ALF Network. Leading the ALF fund development campaign, his team raised $4M and his direct efforts led to the largest amount of individual donors giving at the major gift level.  Prior to ALF – SV, Villaluna also held the position of Executive Director of the Page Mill YMCA of Silicon Valley.

Alberto Villaluna is an ALF – SV Senior Fellow (Class XXV). He serves on the nonprofit boards of ALearn, an organization committed to helping underprivileged students get to and succeed in college, and FACES Silicon Valley, an organization dedicated to building an inclusive community, free of bias and bigotry through educational programs.

ITVS Nominated for Two Webby Awards

ITVS nominated for 2 Webby Awards

Two ITVS projects have been recognized by the Webby Awards, the leading international awards for excellence on the Internet, which were called “the Internet’s highest honor” by The New York Times. The nominees, selected by members of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences, include the newly relaunched website for Independent Lens, the Emmy Award-winning weekly television series on PBS, and After the Storm, an innovative interactive web project. The public may vote for the People’s Voice Award on the Webby site from now until April 21st. (So, needless to say, we encourage every one of our viewers and readers to vote for us as soon as you can!)

The Webby Awards recognize excellence in websites, online film and video, advertising and media, mobile sites and apps, and social. This year’s competition received nearly 13,000 entries from nearly all 50 states and 65 countries worldwide. Winners will be announced April 26 and honored at the 20th annual Webby Awards ceremony on May 16 in New York. Continue reading

Applying for the Primetime Emmy® Awards: What You Need to Know

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Over the past few months, ITVS has hosted a series of webinars for filmmakers interested in submitting their projects for major awards. Our latest installment featured the Primetime Emmys presented by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS). We were joined by Dr. John Leverence, Senior Vice President of Awards, and Daniel H. Birman and Shari Cookson, representatives from the Board of Governors for Documentary Programming, who were kind enough to walk us through the process and answer audience questions. Here are some of the key takeaways from the conversation.  

What’s the difference between the Television Academy and the National Academy?

The Television Academy honors primetime programming. It is comprised of 29 “peer groups” whose work is aired nationally and whose members are eligible to vote for the Emmy Awards. Peer groups are based on areas of expertise, from network executives to hair stylists; from performers to cinematographers.

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences [NATAS] honors national daytime, news and sports programming. The National Academy is member-based and has affiliated chapters in US cities and regions that award Emmys for local programming.

When it comes to submitting a documentary, it’s helpful to understand that the Primetime Emmy Awards are more specific to docs that don’t come from news departments. For example – 60 Minutes is a CBS News production and is therefore eligible in the NATAS news and docs Emmys, whereas American Masters is not a news department production and is eligible in the Television Academys documentary/nonfiction competition.

What is the Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking Jury Award?

This award was created in 2005 to honor documentaries that may not be considered “popular” but still meet the Exceptional Merit criteria. This award is selected by a nominating and voting jury and is not part of the overall ballot. The chances for winning are not predicated on a theatrical release, network involvement, awards department, or marketing budget. Instead, the judges look for social impact, innovation, and mastery of the craft.

If a film is broadcast on a series, can the producers submit it to the Emmys independent of that series?

You can’t “double dip” – only a single Emmy for a single achievement. You can enter it either as a series or as a single episode, (which then makes the series not eligible). However, you can enter into the Exceptional Merit category, which is the one exception!

Will a theatrical run make a film ineligible for the Outstanding Nonfiction award?

Theatrical has to be a complement to a project that was designed for broadcast. If your project was designed as a theatrical release and then brought to TV, it does not qualify. That being said, the Academy allows for film festival runs and theatrical exhibitions intended solely for the purposes of Oscar qualification.
For additional tips on how to make your Emmy® Award submission the best it can be, watch the webinar recording, below. And if you’re interested in more filmmaker-focused webinars, follow us on Facebook or Twitter for more info!

MacArthur Foundation to Expand Support of Documentary Filmmakers through Partner Organizations

ITVS is a proud partner organization of MacArthur, and is sharing the following announcement originally posted here:

Beginning in 2016, the MacArthur Foundation’s Journalism and Media Program will discontinue direct support of individual documentary projects, but will increase its overall support of documentary filmmakers and nonfiction media producers through new and existing partner organizations.

Since the mid-eighties, MacArthur has supported over 300 documentary projects: a cumulative investment of $50 million. View a list of documentary film projects supported through previous Open Calls.

At the same time, the Foundation has supported and strengthened a number of partner organizations that provide more comprehensive support to filmmakers, from production funding, editorial advice, and professional mentorship, to broadcast, distribution and public engagement.

Going forward, the Journalism and Media program will reinforce and expand its support of documentary filmmakers and nonfiction media producers exclusively through partner organizations. These organizations, as a whole, support hundreds of filmmakers each year, and help to diversify the field and raise the artistic achievement and social impact of documentary storytelling.

The Foundation will no longer accept applications for individual documentary projects. This decision reflects a continuing commitment to the documentary community and a desire to deploy MacArthur resources in a way that will allow many more filmmakers, artists and technologists to find the support they need to tell stories that inform, engage, and compel viewers to make changes in themselves or their communities for a more just, verdant and peaceful society.

Filmmakers currently seeking production funds are encouraged to explore the funding opportunities offered by MacArthur’s partner organizations:

POV

Firelight Media

Independent Television Service (ITVS)

Sundance Documentary Fund

Tribeca Film Institute

ITVS heads to Austin for SXSW ’16

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By Elisabeth Copper, @eacopper

Sr. Manager, Social Media

Can you believe it’s almost time to head to Austin for SXSW? It feels like just yesterday we were filling up on Torchy’s Tacos and partying with PBS at the Parish. We’ll be back in town this Friday to support our funded films, participate in panels, and keep tabs on what’s new and exciting in the film and tech world. If you’ll be joining us in the Lone Star State, here’s where we’ll be. Come say hi!

Film Screenings

If you have a Film, Gold, or Platinum badge, don’t miss these three ITVS-funded documentaries screening at the film festival this week.

Newtown

Filmed over the course of nearly three years, the filmmakers use unique access and never before heard testimonies to tell a story of the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting of schoolchildren in American history. Newtown documents a traumatized community fractured by grief and driven toward a sense of purpose. Joining the ranks of a growing club to which no one wants to belong, a cast of characters interconnect to weave an intimate story of community resilience.

Tower

On August 1st, 1966, a sniper rode the elevator to the top floor of the University of Texas Tower and opened fire, holding the campus hostage for 96 minutes. When the gunshots were finally silenced, the toll included 16 dead, three dozen wounded, and a shaken nation left trying to understand. Combining archival footage with rotoscopic animation in a dynamic, never-before-seen way, TOWER reveals the action-packed untold stories of the witnesses, heroes and survivors of America’s first mass school shooting, when the worst in one man brought out the best in so many others.

Trapped

From 2011 to 2015, hundreds of regulations were passed restricting access to abortion in the US. Reproductive rights advocates refer to these as “TRAP” laws – Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers. Southern clinics, in particular, have been hit hardest and are now in a fight for survival. Trapped interweaves the personal stories behind these regulatory battles: from the physician, to the clinic owners, to the lawyers, to the women they are determined to help. In this feature length character driven film, our main characters fight alongside dedicated attorneys to preserve abortion rights in a country living with the mistaken belief that Roe v Wade still protects a woman’s right to choose.

Ovarian Psycos

Riding at night through the dangerous streets of Eastside Los Angeles, the Ovarian Psycos use their bikes to confront the violence in their lives. At the helm of the crew is founder Xela de la X, a single mother and poet M.C. dedicated to recruiting an unapologetic, misfit crew of women of color. The film intimately chronicles Xela as she struggles to strike a balance between her activism and nine year old daughter Yoli; street artist Andi who is estranged from her family and journeys to become a leader within the crew; and bright eyed recruit Evie, who despite poverty, and the concerns of her protective Salvadoran mother, discovers a newfound confidence.

Panels

Demystifying Digital Distribution

Thanks to the shift towards digital distribution, there’s more opportunity than ever for filmmakers to reach viewers and monetize their films. While video-on-demand has become an invaluable option, it also presents its own share of challenges. At this panel, industry experts Linzee Troubh, Scott Kaplan, Jason Kwong, and Flora Pereira will tell you what you need to know about launching titles on platforms such as Netflix, iTunes, and Amazon. They will provide an overview of the most common deal structures and windowing strategies, what factors distributors consider when negotiating a licensing deal, how much your rights are worth and which ones you should consider retaining or exploiting.

New Partnerships in Digital Storytelling

Are the futures of journalism and documentary intertwined? Filmmakers and journalists each play a vital role in informing the American public. While journalists excel at breaking news, filmmakers illuminate the personal, human stories behind the headlines. Doc film nonprofit ITVS presents, Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg of The Atlantic, Erika Cohn, director of the documentary In Football We Trust, and Lois Vossen, Executive Producer of the anthology documentary series Independent Lens on PBS, will discuss the challenges and opportunities of a new model of in-depth storytelling, and provide insight on how journalists and filmmakers can work together to strike up critical conversations.

Can’t make it to Austin this year? We’ll be capturing all of the madness on Twitter and Instagram so be sure to follow along!

Applying for the News & Documentary Emmy® Awards: What You Need to Know

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Every year, the News & Documentary Emmy® Awards recognize outstanding achievement in broadcast journalism and documentary filmmaking, awarding their coveted statuette to the very best news reports and documentaries that have aired on national television or streamed over the Internet. This year marks the 37th Annual News & Documentary Emmy® Awards which are currently accepting submissions with a final entry deadline of April 14, 2016.

Last year, over 1,600 entries were received, which were winnowed down to 218 nominees, then 45 winners. Needless to say, the competition can be fierce, leading every producer to the question: how can I make my submission stand out? With this in mind, ITVS hosted a live conversation via our social screening platform OVEE earlier this week, featuring David Winn and Christine Chin who are, respectively, Senior Vice President and Director of the News & Documentary Emmy® Awards. Here’s a recap of some of the takeaways from that webinar:

How Are Submissions Judged?

Submissions are screened and judged throughout the months of May and June. Submission videos, ballots and judging instructions are delivered to judges who have two weeks to review the submissions and cast their ballots. Entries are judged online by panelists who are certified as peers. Each judge casts a secret ballot. Judges’ votes are not shared with other judges or with members of The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. They are tabulated by the accounting firm of Lutz and Carr.

What’s the 50% Rule?

A program needs to be available to 50% of U.S. television households in order to be considered a national broadcast. Over-the-air network broadcasts, as well as cable or satellite programming generally satisfy the “50% rule.” Recently, entries that have streamed online qualify, which opens up more opportunities for independent producers…yes, Virginia, YouTube counts!

Open to Innovation

In addition to the eligibility of online content, the News & Documentary Emmys include categories favorable to producers working outside of traditional broadcast formats. Three categories, deemed New Approaches, exist to recognize interactive, multimedia, and transmedia work. This year, a new category —Outstanding Short Documentary — has been added to recognize films that are 40 minutes or less in duration.

Put on Your Writing Cap

Obviously, the video sample that you submit is key to showcasing your talents, but don’t forget that the submissions essay is your chance to speak directly to the judges about the merits of your program. Be concise, serious, and substantive, avoiding marketing pitches or accolade listings. Stick to the guidelines and observe the 750 word count.

Don’t Double Dip

If you decide to submit your work to the News & Documentary Emmy® Awards competition, then you should not also submit to the Primetime or Sports Emmy® Awards. Do your homework first to determine which awards competition is the best fit for your program. Similarly, while you may apply to multiple News & Documentary categories, you may only apply to one Outstanding and one Best Of category (you can go crazy and apply to as many craft categories that may apply, though).

Follow Instructions!

The same rule that applies to acing the SAT and surviving IKEA furniture assembly should guide you well, here: FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS! Be sure to read the Rules & Procedures guide closely before preparing your submission. However, if you’re still stumped, David and Christine will gladly answer your questions (see the cover sheet of submissions guide for their contact info).

For additional tips on how to make your News & Documentary Emmy® Award submission the best it can be, watch the webinar recording, below. And if you’re interested in more filmmaker-focused webinars, including an upcoming presentation on the Primetime Emmy® Awards, follow us on Facebook or Twitter for more info!