ITVS Seeks Applicants for Open Call Funding Initiative

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Open Call provides completion funds for single nonfiction public television programs on any subject, and from any viewpoint. Projects must have begun production as evidenced by a work-in-progress video. Open Call funding is only available to independent producers who are citizens or legal residents of the U.S. and its external territories.

Open Call accepts:

  • Single programs of standard broadcast length (half-hour or one-hour). In rare cases, when a filmmaker’s skills, subject, and story structure warrant it, ITVS will consider programs at feature lengths.
  • Programs that can be completed within one year of contract

The application will open December 29, 2014 and the deadline for receiving all application materials is January 30th, 2015 at 4 PM PST.

ITVS will be hosting a live chat on Wednesday, January 14th at 1pm ET/10am PT. Programming Manager N’Jeri Eaton and Senior Production Manager David Eisenberg will be on hand to answer your questions, from treatments to budgets and all that falls between.

For more information visit: http://www.itvs.org/funding/open-call

Farewell and Thank You, Claire Aguilar

Claire Aguilar

We here at ITVS would like to take this opportunity to bid a fond farewell to Claire Aguilar, who made absolutely vital contributions to the success of ITVS during her 14-year tenure as Vice President of Programming and Executive Content Advisor.  As noted in this space recently, the Senior Content Director role is now in the very capable hands of Noland Walker. Meanwhile, Claire has a new opportunity at the prestigious British film festival Sheffield Doc/Fest as its director of programming and industry engagement.

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Three ITVS Films Win BRITDOC Impact Awards

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As awards season heats up, three ITVS films were recently honored with BRITDOC Social Impact Awards. The films, Granito, The House I Live In, and American Promise each received $15,000 to reward their passion and achievements in using storytelling to provoke change. Now in its 4th year, the Impact Award honors filmmakers whose work has had the most impact globally every year.

“We are thrilled that three of our funded filmmakers have received the BRITDOC Social Impact Award,said Jim Sommers, ITVS Senior Vice President. “It is a testament to their incredible hard work, dedication and commitment to sharing the stories of people from diverse communities across the globe in order to ignite conversations and engage people in positive social change.”

The BRITDOC organization offers an Impact Field Guide and Toolkit for filmmakers, which includes suggestions and tools to create engaging campaigns on how to impact the topics their films explore.

ITVS is proud to be the home for impactful filmmakers. This year, of the five BRITDOC Impact Award winners, three were ITVS funded films.  Previous ITVS documentaries that have also taken home the award include Bully, Give Up Tomorrow, The Interrupters and The Invisible War.

Community Cinema Joins the Online Conversation with Independent Lens

Community Cinema Social Composite of Events

It’s here – a brand new season of dynamic screening events with Community Cinema. This season, Community Cinema is proud to celebrate 10 years of uniting people through independent film. Available nationwide, Community Cinema presents free screenings and discussions about films from the Emmy Award-winning series Independent Lens. By igniting conversations around issues that affect us all, Community Cinema creates real and lasting change.

A new season of Community Cinema also means new ways of engaging with our audiences. We’re excited to announce that Community Cinema will soon be able to reach a wider audience through the Independent Lens social media space! As of November 1st, we’ll be closing the Community Cinema Facebook and Twitter accounts, and bringing you the latest in Community Cinema events and news via Independent Lens’s social accounts. With an expanded community, the Independent Lens Facebook and Twitter pages are the perfect spots to continue Community Cinema conversations online.

So, if you want to stay in the know on the latest Community Cinema event news and updates, make sure to follow Independent Lens on Facebook and Twitter.

Help make our 10th season the best one yet by adding your voice to the conversation. Join us at one of our local events; we’d love to see you there!

ITVS Wins 4 News & Documentary Emmy Awards

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Cover your ears, it’s horn tooting time here! Last night at the News & Documentary Emmy Awards ceremony, ITVS films won a total of 4 Emmys, including 3 for Independent Lens films [Independent Lens had been nominated for 10 News & Doc Emmys overall.] Read more on RealScreen, but without further ado, the winners are:

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ITVS Names Noland Walker as Senior Content Director

Noland WalkerIndependent Television Service is excited to announce that Peabody Award-winning documentary producer and director Noland Walker has been appointed Senior Content Director, where he will manage a portfolio of ITVS-funded programs, providing curatorial analysis and program development feedback to producers.

He will also co-curate the Emmy Award-winning Independent Lens series along with Deputy Executive Producer Lois Vossen and PBS, replacing the role of Claire Aguilar after 13 years of distinguished service in the position. In addition, Walker is responsible for identifying trends in the documentary and public media landscape, tracking current projects in the field, and providing recommendations for the funding of public television programming.

“We are thrilled that Noland will be joining ITVS,” said Jim Sommers, Senior Vice President of Content. “He brings a wealth of experience not only as an independent filmmaker but as a highly-respected editorial consultant and advisor for documentaries and transmedia projects. His deep knowledge of public media and commitment to the mission of ITVS are invaluable.”

Most recently, Walker worked with the Boston-based organization AIR, serving as Executive Editor of Localore, an innovative project designed to bring fresh talent, ideas and energy to public media through collaborative production partnerships between producers and local public radio and TV stations.

With over two decades of experience in the development and production of award-winning documentaries, Walker’s credits include two American Experience programs, Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple (co-writer and co-producer) and Citizen King, which he produced, directed, and wrote with Orlando Bagwell; producer and co-writer for Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story (Frontline); writer for Sam Cooke: Crossing Over (American Masters); and co-producer of Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock (Independent Lens). He also produced and directed an episode of the Peabody and Emmy Award-winning Africans in America, a four-part WGBH series on slavery in the U.S.

Walker served as Creative Advisor during the first three years of the Sundance Institute’s New Frontiers Lab and continues to advise and consult Sundance Fellows on an ongoing basis at the Institute’s request. He serves a similar role for the Creative Lab at Canada’s Hot Docs Film Festival.

How “Oil & Water” Came Together

David Poritz (left) and Hugo Lucitante visit a Petroamanas oil field in Ecuador.

David Poritz (left) and Hugo Lucitante visit a Petroamanas oil field in Ecuador.

Ed. note: This guest post by the directors of the ITVS-funded documentary Oil & Water, which premieres Sunday, September 21st on the WORLD Channel [check local listings] as part of the Global Voices series, gives you some of the fascinating background behind this film. Oil & Water was also just featured on Boston’s NPR station WBUR as well [more here]. [Update: Oil & Water is now available to watch online via PBS until October 21, 2014.]


By Laurel Spellman Smith and Francine Strickwerda

A documentary filmmaker once said that when you choose an idea for a film, you need to date it a while, and make sure you can fall in love with it. Because you will be eating, drinking, and sleeping with it for a long time.  It made us laugh, because it’s so true. It’s also about how a human story can knock the wind out of you with its brilliance, and then how it will haunt and nag you until you have no choice but to make your film. That’s how we got to making Oil & Water, which we began filming in 2006.

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The Interrupters’ Ameena Matthew Battles Leukemia

Ameena in The Interrupters

Those of you who have seen the critically lauded documentary The Interrupters, an ITVS-funded film by Steve James (Hoop Dreams; Life Itself) that aired on PBS’s FRONTLINE last year, will be saddened to hear that its main subject, Ameena Matthews, is battling leukemia and lymphoma. While Ameena is no longer an employee of Ceasefire, the violence prevention organization featured in The Interrupters, she has been a vital part of Chicago’s efforts to help reduce its epidemic of gang warfare. Via our friends at Kartemquin Films, you can be proactive in lending a hand to Ameena’s fight by contributing to a campaign to cover her medical costs.

The Interrupters is also currently available to watch online for free via PBS Video.

Help Bring ITVS to SXSW!

Public voting for SXSW 2015 is officially underway. Check out ITVS’s three panel proposals and vote for your favorites – hurry, voting closes September 5th!

btb_panelpickerITVS is proud to be part of three proposed panel discussions for next year’s SXSW festival in Austin. Highlighting topics ranging from navigating the digital terrain to the ins and outs of webseries funding, ITVS is eager to share the insight of industry experts and veteran filmmakers. We may be biased but we think all three of our panels are very worthy of inclusion in SXSW programming and we could use your vote. So sign up and give us a thumb’s up!

First off we ask, “What’s the Value of Your Digital Rights?” In this panel, industry experts will provide insight into how much digital rights are worth to filmmakers and distributors launching titles on outlets such as iTunes, Amazon, and Netflix. Attendees will walk away from this session with insight into which platforms are winning in the battle for viewer attention, while attaining a greater understanding of the deal structures and windowing strategies negotiated as part of these licensing deals.

What sets PBS apart from all of the other broadcasters and distribution outlets? Why do award-winning filmmakers continue to choose PBS as the home for their films? Our second panel, “Doc Distribution: Get Up to Speed with PBS Indies,” highlights the benefits of distributing your film through public television. With access to 98% of American households and the opportunity to be a part of national engagement programs, public media is a great fit for producers looking to expand cultural awareness, spark dialogue, and evoke civil participation. Attendees will be able to hear directly from filmmakers who have chosen this distribution route and how it affected the reach, revenue, and impact of their project. Continue reading