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!