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

Big Night for ITVS Series and its Films at International Documentary Association Awards

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The International Documentary Association (IDA) announced the winners of the 31st IDAs this weekend with ITVS receiving four IDA awards. This weekend’s honors brings the total number of IDA honors for ITVS to 21, including a third consecutive win for its acclaimed weekly series Independent Lens.

ITVS’ Independent Lens established a bona fide winning streak last night, sharing its Best Curated Series honors with POV. Independent Lens was previously awarded the 2013 International Documentary Association Best Continuing Series Award and the 2014 International Documentary Association Best Curated Series Award.

“ITVS is thrilled to see the work that we believe in so deeply, be recognized by the IDA, and we are proud to have played a role in their success.(T)ERROR, Best of Enemies and The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (nominated for for Best Feature) all show the changing face of America – on camera and off. Every day, our mission is to champion independent filmmakers who are working to tell the world’s untold stories. These filmmakers capture the lives of underrepresented people on film, then we help to make their stories accessible to everyone,” said ITVS President and CEO Sally Jo Fifer.

“We are particularly pleased that Independent Lens continues to be recognized and congratulate Lois Vossen and her Independent Lens team. We would also like to congratulate Gordon Quinn on his well-deserved Career Achievement Award. Gordon was integral to the creation of ITVS, leaving an important and lasting legacy around our mission of diversity and inclusion in the independent filmmaking community,” continued Fifer.

“Receiving the 2015 IDA Best Curated Series is a great honor and I am proud of my team at Independent Lens and the amazing filmmakers who contribute to the success of the program,” said Lois Vossen, executive producer of Independent Lens. “We are proud to be a part of ITVS and its mission to bring audiences face-to-face with the lives and concerns of their fellow Americans who are underrepresented in the media landscape today.”

The Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award was given to filmmakers Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe for their work on the film (T)ERROR, which will air on Independent Lens February 22, 2016.

“In our film, we wanted to highlight what we consider a serious threat to the fabric of our democracy. ITVS’ generous support allowed us to have a strong platform to tell this story at a critical time in our country,” said Cabral and Sutcliffe. “It is an honor to be recognized by IDA with the 2015 Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award.”

The acclaimed Best of Enemies (which will air on Independent Lens in the fall of 2016) was honored with two awards: Best Music for the original score by Jonathan Kirkscey; and the the ABC News VideoSource Award, which recognizes the best use of news footage in a documentary.

“We are both grateful to have received two awards tonight and want to thank ITVS for its generous support of Best of Enemies,” said Best of Enemies directors Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville. “Just as Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr.’s diverse points of views shaped television forever, ITVS’s mission of supporting diverse and independent filmmakers have helped shaped a generation of storytelling in this country.”

The full list of winners was published on Variety.

New Multi-Platform Strategy to Showcase Independent Lens on PBS

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In collaboration with PBS, Independent Television Service (ITVS) is proud to announce a new strategy to increase the reach and visibility of INDEPENDENT LENS on PBS member stations. The strategy will draw on strategic scheduling, digital content and distribution, social media and marketing to shine an even brighter spotlight on this important mission-focused content.

“We are very happy that the important work of independent filmmakers will continue to have a prominent place in PBS’ broadcast schedule, and that PBS is also bolstering the visibility of these films through this new multiplatform strategy,” said Sally Jo Fifer, President and CEO of ITVS, which produces INDEPENDENT LENS.

The announcement of the multi-platform strategy follows a several-month, multi-city listening tour during which leaders from PBS, ITVS, POV and WNET held town hall-style meetings with members of the independent film community to discuss how best to present ITVS’ INDEPENDENT LENS and POV on PBS and ensure that the series reach the widest possible audience.

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ITVS Announces New Digital Open Call

The ITVS team just wrapped up a great week of sessions, film screenings, and networking with fellow storytellers and filmmakers at the annual SxSW Festival in Austin, Texas. While we were there, in conjunction with a panel that ITVS’s own Karim Ahmad, Senior Digital Content Strategist, participated in called “Who’s Going To Fund Your Web Series,” we made a big announcement about our new digital open call.

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This newly launched initiative is designed to help film and media makers develop new indie web series projects with funding support and distribution on public media’s digital platforms. Proposals may include web series of any genre, both nonfiction and fiction, episodic or anthology, and selected applicants will receive $10k – $50k in R&D funding to develop a web series pilot over a six month term. Pilots will then be considered for production funding, with the eventual goal of distribution on digital platforms such as PBS.org, Independent Lens platforms, PBS-related YouTube channels, or other digital partnerships currently in development.

In addition to announcing this new digital open call, Karim’s panel was a lively discussion with a host of other influencers and thought leaders who have broad experience working in the web series space. Other panelists included Amy Dotson (Deputy Director & Head of Programming at IFP), Jay Bushman (Founder of the Horizon Factory and producer of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries), and Marc Hofstatter (Head of Film for Indiegogo). Each offered their unique insights to a room full of aspiring web series producers on how to get their ideas off the ground. From discussions on how to use multiple channels and platforms to tell a story, to the importance of building communities around projects, to knowing your audience and how to reach them, to why you have to be committed to a project before you look into crowd-funding, each panelist brought a unique perspective as to how to get a project up and running.

More info on our digital open call and how to apply can be found at itvs.org/funding.

PBS Listening Tour Comes to New York City: A Report

This post was originally published on the POV blog 

PBS Listening Tour

A National Listening Tour on Independent Film on PBS came to New York City on February 23, 2015 at SVA Theatre in Manhattan.

PBS, ITVS, POV, Independent Lens, Indie Caucus and WNET hosted a full house on the Independent Film on PBS Listening Tour on Monday, February 23 at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan.

Building on the conversation that began last month in San Francisco, a panel of PBS leadership, series producers and independent filmmakers heard from an audience of more than 400 filmmakers, local and national independent film organizations, public media advocates, educators and community leaders, and shared and discussed their perspectives on PBS’s role as a provider and platform for independent documentary films.

On stage, Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and GM and General Audience Programming at PBS, laid out new potential strategies around marketing initiatives, live events and theatrical distribution of independent films, while Marie Nelson, Vice President of News & Public Affairs at PBS, continued to welcome innovative ideas to promote larger viewership. Stephen Segaller, Vice President of Programming at WNET, further explained WNET’s reasoning for wanting to experiment with scheduling times for POV and Independent Lens, and was receptive to the concern of the New York City audience at the event.

Moderator Mikel Ellecessor did his best to drive the conversation to a new phase, urging speakers to move on from discussing proposed scheduling changes for POV and Independent Lens, towards bringing forward alternative suggestions to ensure that PBS provides independent film to its largest audience.

Simon Kilmurry, Executive Producer of POV, Sally Jo Fifer, President and CEO of ITVS and Executive Producer of Independent Lens, and Lois Vossen, Deputy Executive Producer of Independent Lens, provided their perspectives as representatives and funders of the two largest showcases for independent film on public television, while Marcia Smith, President of Firelight Media, and Dawn Porter, Director/Producer of Gideon’s Army and Indie Caucus representative, offered their experiences working with the series, and advocated for their continued prioritization by PBS locally and nationally.

PBS Listening Tour Panel NYC

From left to right: Simon Kilmurry, Executive Producer, POV; Dawn Porter, Director/Producer, Indie Caucus Representative; Marcia Smith, President, Firelight Media; Lois Vossen, Deputy Executive Producer, Independent Lens; Sally Jo Fifer, President and CEO, ITVS and Executive Producer, Independent Lens; Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and GM and General Audience Programming, PBS; Marie Nelson, Vice President, News & Public Affairs, PBS; Stephen Segaller, Vice President, Programming, WNET

Attendees waited in the aisles of the theatre to share their experiences, perspectives and concerns, touching on issues around the visibility of independent films on television, accessibility of programs in low-income neighborhoods of New York City and representation of the diversity of the city in programming decisions and scheduling. Speakers on the mic included POV and Independent Lens filmmakers, partners and founders.

PBS launched “Independent Film on PBS: A National Listening Tour” in partnership with ITVS, POV, Independent Lens, and WNET. The Indie Caucus and Kartemquin Films will host the next stop in Chicago in March, date TBD.

Independent Film on PBS: A National Listening Tour

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In keeping with its commitment to being the “home to indies,” PBS programming leadership will travel throughout the country over the next few months to meet with independent filmmakers, PBS independent film series producers, PBS station programmers, and other public media and community partners. Listening Tour co-hosts will include ITVS, POV, Independent Lens, and WNET, among others.  At each stop, event participants will voice their priorities, concerns, and ideas on how all the stakeholders can work together to strengthen audience and community engagement with social issues storytelling.

San Francisco will be the first stop on the tour on Saturday, January 17. The event will be hosted by PBS, WNET, ITVS, Independent Lens, and POV, with co-sponsors:

The Listening Tour hosts will announce additional stops in New York and elsewhere as they are confirmed. ITVS looks forward to building a roadmap with our partners for the long-term success of independent film on PBS.

If you have any questions, please contact us at ListeningTour@itvs.org

PBS, WNET, ITVS, Independent Lens and POV Statement

PBS, WNET, ITVS, Independent Lens and POV are working together in partnership over the next four months to develop a national strategy to raise the profile for independent film on public television and to reinforce PBS as the home for indies.

Together, we will be hosting a listening tour with independent filmmakers across the country to engage producers, stations and other stakeholders in the process.

While these discussions are underway, WNET will continue its broadcast of Independent Lens at 10 PM on Mondays on THIRTEEN.

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.