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

ITVS Digital Open Call Now Accepting Submissions

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ITVS is excited to announce its call for entries for the Digital Open Call. Now in its second year, the fund will support independent filmmakers in developing and piloting original web series for public media’s digital platforms, including PBS.org, PBS-branded YouTube channels, and others. ITVS is thrilled to continue building a pipeline for producers to propose dynamic independent digital series projects for R&D and eventual production.

We seek web series that redefine the form and engage younger and more diverse viewership as we expand public media’s presence and mission into the digital sphere, with bold, unflinching, and innovative original storytelling that defies convention and tackles current and controversial issues. Applications for web series in any genre are eligible, and may incorporate interactive or transmedia elements.

The deadline to apply is May 2, 2016, and the online application is now live on the ITVS website, where prospective applicants can also learn more about eligibility and submission requirements. Selected applications will contract with ITVS to receive between $10,000 and $30,000 in R&D funding to develop and pilot their web series over the course of a three-month term.

Here are the four series projects we are proud to be supporting through the 2015 round of Digital Open Call:

PARTY GIRLS
Produced & directed by Michele Barnwell
Party Girls follows a group of young diverse women of varying personal, religious, and political beliefs, as they take a road trip together across America in the months leading up to the 2016 Presidential elections, engaging in the political process as voters for the first time in their lives.

POPS
Produced & directed by Garland McLaurin
Pops follows three African American men facing the toughest challenge of their lives: becoming good fathers. Their stories reflect the reality of black fathers in America, a role rarely portrayed and often stereotyped in the media.  

THE F WORD
Produced & directed by Nicole Opper & Kristan Cassady
The F-Word will chronicle the challenging and sometimes comedic journey of Nicole and Kristan, a queer Bay Area couple, into the foster care system to become fost-adopt parents.

A GOOD PLACE TO BE BLACK
Produced & directed by Angela Tucker
African Americans are returning to the South in one of the most notable migrations of the new century. But in this moment where churches are being burnt to the ground and crimes against black people are rising at a startling rate, This series looks at this new phenomena and asks the question, “where is a good place to be black?”

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

ITVS Funds Diverse Filmmakers Through Open Call

In its 25th year, ITVS is committed to open access, transparency, and diversity. In that spirit, ITVS is proud to release filmmaker statistics from our first round of Open Call funding in 2016. Over 300 filmmakers applied for ITVS’ Open Call; 48 percent were women and 40 percent were filmmakers of color. First-time applicants made up 42 percent of funded filmmakers, demonstrating our unique position of bringing new and diverse voices to the American public.

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ITVS funds programs from all points of view that bring new audiences to public television and expand civic participation by delivering diverse voices into the public sphere. ITVS begins its next round of open call for funding in July of 2016. We look forward to finding new and compelling stories to share with our viewers.

How to Craft Competitive Work Samples to Get Your Film Funded

The deadline for Open Call is quickly approaching!  Before every deadline, we offer a series of webinars geared to help filmmakers become stronger applicants.

Last week, we held a webinar on creating competitive work samples.  We were joined by two incredibly skilled editors: Aaron Wickenden and Eileen Meyer.  Aaron has had a prolific career as a documentary editor (Finding Vivian Maier to The Interrupters) but fundraising for his own film was a whole new experience.  He shared the work sample for his film Almost There and talked about the difficulty of balancing the issues of outsider art and filmmaker-subject ethics in just ten minutes.

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Filmmaker Aaron Wickenden (Right)

And while Aaron was one of the editors of Best of Enemies, it was his co-editor Eileen who had the arduous task of creating multiple fundraising reels for the film.  And despite being helmed by an Oscar-winning director, they struggled at first to translate the film into a short work sample.  Watch their conversation as they talk about editing challenges and how to incorporate feedback.

Yesterday, we held our bi-annual Open Call Live Chat with N’Jeri Eaton (Content Development & Initiative Manager) and David Eisenberg (Associated Director of Production & Supervising Producer). Over 135 filmmakers attended to get their burning questions answered. If you’re still confused about what makes a strong treatment or what budget mistakes to avoid, watch the video below.

If you still want to learn more about writing the ITVS treatment or crafting a budget, be sure to check out the webinars that we have previously posted here.

The deadline for Open Call is this Friday at 4 pm PST. If you questions about Open Call, please email Programming Coordinator Alexandra Cantin (alexandra_cantin@itvs.org).  To keep up to date about future webinars, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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.

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.

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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.

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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: sffs.org/tickets.

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.

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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:

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Make sure to connect with us on Twitter and Facebook for important updates on Open Call. For more information about Open Call visit: http://www.itvs.org/funding/open-call

 

ITVS Digital Open Call Now Accepting Submissions

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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.org, 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 clementine_briand@itvs.org

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.

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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.