Applying for the Peabody Awards: What You Need to Know

Peabody Trophy

Every year, the Peabody Awards recognize those who excel in radio, television broadcasting, and online media in America. The judges review over a thousand documentary entries and only a select few are awarded the prestigious gold medallion. With such stiff competition, what makes a film stand out? Earlier this week we hosted a webinar featuring Dr. Nate Kohn and Matt Shedd of the George Foster Peabody Awards at the University of Georgia who gave us the inside scoop.


The Peabody Awards honor a diverse range of stories across radio, television, and digital media. To qualify, documentaries must have appeared online or on local or national television. Films with minor theatrical releases (art houses, indie theaters) are eligible but those with large-scale theatricals (Friday night release, available in 3k theaters nationwide) are considered major motion pictures and are disqualified.


When you upload your project for consideration, you’ll be asked to include a short essay. Don’t let this requirement scare you! You won’t be judged on this section, only the project itself. This is your opportunity to tell the judges what the film is about, who was involved in making it, why it’s important, and the impact it’s had. If you have any press reviews or additional content, you can include them in the “Supplementary Material” section. While the film’s reach and impact can be included in the essay or supplementary materials section, it’s what the judges are seeing on screen that matters most.


Although you’ll submit your entry into one of six subcategories, this is just a way for the Peabody Board of Jurors to remain organized. The prizes aren’t awarded by category, nor are there finalists or nominees. When the judges meet face-to-face to determine the winners, they have only one criteria on their minds: excellence. They’re looking for stories that matter and documentaries of substance. Films aren’t compared to one another, they’re judged only against themselves. The jurors must unanimously agree on the films that they choose to recognize.

This is just some of what we covered in our conversation with Dr. Nate Kohn and Matt Shedd, For additional tips on making your submission shine, watch the recording below. ITVS-funded films and Independent Lens broadcasts have won 30 Peabody Awards to date. This webinar is the first of several awards-related webinars presented for free to all filmmakers. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for more info!


ITVS Announces Diversity Development Funded Films

ITVS is pleased to announce 10 projects have been selected for development funding out of 158 submissions through the ITVS Diversity Development Fund. The Diversity Development Fund (DDF) provides up to $15,000 in research and development funding to producers of color to develop single documentary programs for public television. The next round of DDF funding opens October 9th with an application deadline of November 6th. For rules and how to apply click here.

From the strange world of Chinese online showrooms to an exploration of African-American masquerading practices in New Orleans, these films speak to the ITVS mission of tackling complex issues and reflecting the concerns of the diverse society that we live in.

We are proud to welcome the following filmmakers to the ITVS family:

Millennium Island, by Lulu DeBoer, follows a young I-Kiribati woman returning home to her ancestral islands in the south Pacific, only to find that global warming has threatened the existence of her people.

Hail to the Queens, by Brian Nelson, showcases the New Orleans connection to the African diaspora through African-American masquerading practices.

Listen to My Heart Beat, by Nyjia July, explores the cultural currency of Washington, D.C.’s regional music called Go-Go, a blend of funk, rhythm and blues, and early hip-hop, and the politics of poverty and violence that influenced its sound.

My Tiger Mom, by Debbie Lum, follows Asian American mothers and their daughters as they relentlessly pursue their greatest aspiration: getting into an elite American university.

Bound by Blood: Reconciliation and Reparations, by Llewellyn Smith, recounts the brutal massacre of black sharecroppers by white citizens of Elaine, Arkansas in 1919 and shows reverberations lingering through lives of descendant families, white and black, today.

A Woman’s Work, by Yu Gu, chronicles the fight of NFL cheerleaders to receive fair wages.

Triad of Us, by Angela Chen, follows the filmmaker’s journey to piece together her estranged family ultimately shattered by an assassination of an alleged triple spy.

Wisdom Gone Wild, by Rea Tajiri, at 93, Rose Tajiri has dementia. Guided by her mother’s “crazy wisdom”, Rea and her mother Rose journey together to find meaning at the end of life.

Por La Situación, by Nina Alvarez, shows Salvadorans fleeing military and death squad persecution during El Salvador’s civil war as they fight the U.S. government for recognition of their rights as political refugees.

People’s Republic of Desires, by Hao Wu, journeys into a uniquely Chinese internet phenomenon—an exploding virtual entertainment world where performers earn as much as $50,000 a night singing karaoke or doing talk shows for tens of thousands of people.

Open Call Webinars: How to Craft Work Samples, Treatments, and Budgets that Get Your Film Funded

In the lead up to the Open Call deadline on August 7th, ITVS is hosting a series of webinars to provide support, insight and tips for upcoming applicants.


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.

Moderator: N’Jeri Eaton, Content Development & Initiative Manager

Guest Speakers: Robert Gordon (Director/Producer of Best of Enemies), Kate Trumbull-LaValle & Joanna Sokolowski (Directors/Producers of The Ovarian Psycos)

Read the full chat transcript from Creating Competitive Work Samples


Writing the ITVS Treatment 

We’ll break down the ITVS program description requirements and see excerpts of recently funded treatments.

Moderator: N’Jeri Eaton, Content Development & Initiative Manager

Guest Speakers: blair dorosh-walther (Director/Producer of Out in the Night), Lacey Schwartz (Director/Producer/Writer of Little White Lie)

Open Call 2015, Round 2: Writing the ITVS Treatment


Basic Budgeting for ITVS 

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, Senior Production Manager

Open Call 2015, Round 2: Basic Budgeting Presentation


Open Call Live Chat – July 28th at 10am PT/1pm ET

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: N’Jeri Eaton, Content Development & Initiative Manager

David Eisenberg, Senior Production Manager

Update! Archived Open Call chat is now available here from ITVS_VIDEO:


Make sure to connect with us on Twitter and Facebook for important updates on Open Call. For more information about Open Call visit:


ITVS Digital Open Call Now Accepting Submissions


The Independent Television Service (ITVS) is excited to announce a new open funding initiative designed to expand public media’s presence in the digital sphere by funding independent filmmakers to develop and pilot original web series for public media’s digital platforms, including, PBS branded YouTube channels and others. ITVS has long supported the development and production of independently produced interactive media projects and web series. And after several years of thematic-specific requests for proposals, ITVS is proud to be opening a pipeline for producers to propose independently-conceived digital series projects for R&D and potential production.

“The digital space has become the critical place to engage younger viewers and viewers of color. ITVS, as stewards of diversity in public media, wants to do so much more. We want to support makers of digital series who will invite those voices into the public discourse around current social issues with envelope-pushing, innovative, genre-bending stories designed specifically for online and mobile audiences.” – Karim Ahmad, Senior Digital Content Strategist at ITVS 

The deadline to apply is July 1, 2015and the online application is now live at the ITVS website, where prospective applicants can also learn more about eligibility and submission requirements. Applications for web series in any genre are eligible, whether nonfiction or fiction, episodic or anthology in structure, and may incorporate interactive or transmedia elements, such as those found in the final season of the ITVS series FUTURESTATES released last summer. Selected applications will contract with ITVS to receive $10,000 to $50,000 in R&D funding to develop and pilot their web series over the course of a six-month term.

For further questions or inquiries about the ITVS Digital Open Call, please contact Programming & Production Coordinator, Clementine Briand, at

Apply Now

Everything You Need to Know to Apply to Open Call

Over the past month, ITVS’s Programming Department hosted a number of informative webinars in order to arm filmmakers with the information needed to successfully apply for Open Call funding. With Friday’s deadline fast approaching, we wanted to offer this brief overview of each of the events, which covered everything from writing the ITVS treatment to what makes a successful work-in-progress sample. Check it out and be sure to apply to Open Call by Friday, August 8th.


On July 10th, Programming Manager N’Jeri Eaton hosted the “Writing the ITVS Treatment” webinar. View the archived webinar below:

Treatment Webinar from ITVS_VIDEO on Vimeo.

On July 24th, an OVEE screening was held to review work-in-progress samples and to discuss the process with filmmakers who were successful with their submissions. To find out what makes a good work sample, read the transcript from the “Work-in-Progresses That Work” webinar here. Continue reading

Your Open Call Questions Answered

ITVS Programming Managers N’Jeri Eaton and Jorge Trelles hosted an informative live chat on Wednesday to answer any questions for the Open Call funding initiative.

ITVS will be accepting applications through Friday, January 17th. While the chat has come and gone, check out the archived conversation for helpful submission tips and insights!

For more information about ITVS funding initiatives, please click here.

Vote for ITVS with the SXSW Panel Picker!

Public voting for SXSW Interactive 2014 is well underway. Check out ITVS’s two panel proposals and vote for your favorites – hurry, voting closes September 6th!


ITVS is proud to to be part of two proposed panel discussions for next year’s SXSW festival in Austin. We may be biased but we think both 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 is the “New Narratives: Building An Interactive Storyworld” panel that ITVS and some of our partners (Storycode, San Francisco Film Society) are doing around interactive fiction film (e.g. the new Futurestates, some upcoming hackathons, etc.), its emergence as a new and untapped genre, and why it’s important for feature makers.

“This is such an exciting time to be working in digital content – interactive documentaries are everywhere, changing people’s notions of how to tell a story,” says Karim Ahmad, Senior Programming Manager at ITVS. “But when you think about the implications of these new platforms for fictional storyworlds, the possibilities are literally limitless. What does an interactive fictional film or web series look like? How do you build one? Why would you even want to build one? These are all the things we’re going to explore in our panel.” Continue reading

Diversity Development Fund: An Inside Look at the Submission Process

Programming Manager N’Jeri Eaton hosted an informative live chat last Thursday to answer any submission questions for the Diversity Development Fund. ITVS will be accepting applications through Friday, August 16th.


While the chat has come and gone, check out the archived conversation below for helpful submission tips and insights. The original chat can be viewed here.


Hi everyone. Thanks for joining us. Looks like we have a small group today. But that just means more time for you to get all of your pressing questions in. My name is N’Jeri Eaton and I’m a programming manager here at ITVS.




I manage the Diversity Development Fund. The deadline for the fund is Friday, August 16th at 5pm PT. We’re also going digital for the first time this year. So please make sure to check our site and read about our new online application process. Continue reading

The Diversity Development Fund Is Now Accepting Applications

ITVS is seeking applications for the Diversity Development Fund (DDF) through Friday, August 16th.


DDF provides up to $15,000 in research and development funding to independent producers of color to develop single documentary programs for public television.  Projects should speak to the ITVS mission to serve underrepresented audiences with programs that take creative risks, explore complex issues, inspire dialogue, and express points of view seldom seen on commercial or public television. Please note that the new deadline is FRIDAY, AUGUST 16th.

To date, projects selected for the Diversity Development Fund have had national broadcasts on Independent Lens and P.O.V., and have leveraged support from organizations including the National Minority Consortia, the Sundance Doc Fund, Creative Capital Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Ford Foundation.

Funding activities may include travel, research, script development, preliminary production for fundraising/work-in-progress reels, or other early phase activities.

DDF accepts:

  • Producers from cultural and ethnic communities historically underrepresented on public television.
  • Single documentaries
  • Projects not yet in production

Join Programming Manager N’Jeri Eaton for a Diversity Development Fund live chat on Thursday, August 1st at 11am PT.  She will be there to answer any of your questions about the initiative ahead of the deadline. You can participate in the live chat here:

For more information on DDF visit:

Don’t Miss the ITVS Open Call Deadline

The Independent Television Service (ITVS) seeks applications for the Open Call funding initiative.


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 deadline June 28th, 2013.

Want to know what makes a good work-in-progress? Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer.  A work-in-progress can vary depending on what material you have, the style of your film, what stage of production you’re in, etc. Check out the insight and advice given by three ITVS-funded producers who have successfully submitted to the Open Call initiative: Shukree Tilghman (More Than a Month)Brad Lichtenstein (As Goes Janesville), and Michael Collins (Give Up Tomorrow).

Additionally, ITVS will be hosting a live chat on Monday, June 24th at 1pm ET/10am PT. Programming Manager N’Jeri Eaton and Senior Production Manager Jorge Trelles will be on hand to answer your questions, from treatments to budgets and all that falls between.

For more information visit: