San Francisco Film Society’s New Doc Stories Series

We’re absolutely thrilled that our friends at the San Francisco Film Society (SFFS) have added a new documentary series to their autumn programming. An essential element of the organization’s year-round celebration of contemporary world cinema, the Fall Season spotlights international film cultures and now features Doc Stories, a brand-new showcase exhibiting some of the year’s best nonfiction films.


With numerous filmmakers in attendance, Doc Stories (November 5-8 at the Vogue Theatre) will give audiences opportunities to see the movies that will likely define this year’s awards season while engaging in in-depth conversations about critical contemporary issues with some of the most talented documentary storytellers. From intensely personal essays to hard-hitting topical investigations into urgent global issues to examinations of some of culture’s most fascinating figures, there is something for everyone with an interest in the world around them in this inaugural festival.


With films like What Happened, Miss Simone? and Cartel Land — movies already available streaming — the key difference brought to Film Society viewership will be the illuminating and thought-provoking onstage discussions with filmmakers and other special guests in attendance for each screening. SFFS will host directors for nearly every film in the program, putting them in dialogue with key cultural critics.

We’re so excited for this new series to get started. Don’t miss your chance to see the ITVS funded film  Thank You for Playing  on November 8th, and more at:

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

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.


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, 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 at SXSW 2015


By Elisabeth Copper, @eacopper

Social Media Manager

It’s that time again! We’ve packed our bags and are heading out for the craziness that is SxSW. We’ll be running around town participating in panels, attending screenings, and meeting with filmmakers, storytellers, and innovators. Will you be joining us in Austin? If so, here are some of the places we’ll be.

Film Screenings

We couldn’t be more thrilled that three ITVS-support documentaries will be showing at the film festival this year. If you have a Film, Gold, or Platinum badge, here’s your chance to preview the documentaries before they appear next season on our Emmy Award-winning series Independent Lens.

Continue reading

ITVS Receives Funding from MacArthur Foundation to Foster Collaborations Between Journalists and Filmmakers

Independent Television Service (ITVS) announced today a new project supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to pioneer innovative collaborations between journalists and independent filmmakers.

“While journalists excel at breaking news, independent filmmakers illuminate the personal, human stories behind the headlines,” said Sally Jo Fifer, President and CEO of ITVS and Executive Producer of the PBS primetime documentary series Independent Lens. “If we can combine the journalist’s drive for immediacy and accuracy with the filmmaker’s knack for character, that’s an opportunity to create something new and strike up conversations on the essential issues of our time.”

ITVS is partnering with news organizations to distribute the videos and experiment with new models of in-depth storytelling. The Washington Post is among the first of those partners, and will select and offer ITVS videos on PostTV, as well as periodically suggest content themes for the video pipeline.

“Documentaries play an increasingly vital role in informing the American public,” said Kathy Im, Director of Media, Culture, and Special Initiatives at MacArthur Foundation. “It is our hope that documentary storytelling paired with journalism outlets can help humanize and contextualize serious, timely stories all over the world.”

For more than 30 years, MacArthur has supported the production of documentary films and participatory web-based documentaries that combine exceptional filmmaking with in-depth journalism to examine important social issues.

ITVS Seeks Applicants for 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 application opened December 29, 2014 and the deadline for receiving all application materials is January 30th, 2015 at 4 PM PST.

ITVS  hosted a live chat on Wednesday, January 14th with Programming Manager N’Jeri Eaton and Senior Production Manager David Eisenburg, providing answers and insight regarding the application process for Open Call. The chat was recorded and available here for those who were unable to attend.

For more information visit:

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

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