Social TV Makes Big Progress in 2013

By Kelsey Savage, PBS Interactive 
Originally published on the PBS Station Products & Innovation Blog

Lounging around on your couch, clicker and blanket in tow, might not seem like the most overtly social activity. Yet, these days, even when we’re spending the evening parked in front of the television, we’re able to connect with our friends immediately about a show’s plot progression. In particular, Twitter has been leading the way for developing a strong social TV landscape.

In Nielsen’s annual “Station of The Media: The Social Media Report”, social TV demonstrated a growing user base. By June of 2012, over a third of Twitter users tweeted about a program on television, with the age 35-44 demographic being the most likely to comment on a TV show. In order to measure the power of social television, Nielsen will be working with Twitter to establish “a syndicate-standard metric around the reach of the TV conservation” by fall 2013. For the first time, broadcasters will be able to get an estimate of the number of people that participated or were exposed to an online conversation about their programming.

Public Media has also been capitalizing on the growth of social TV. Most notably, tech-savy, Downton Abbey lovers can check their Twitter feeds for instant feedback about the Dowager Countess’ latest sassy remark through the #DowntonPBS hashtag. PBS has also facilitated celebrity moderators, like Austenprose (@austenprose), The Daily Beast (@televisionary), Tom and Lorenzo (@tomandlorenzo) and Vulture (@vulture), to join the conversation. Their second-screen remarks add another dimension to the viewing experience. They make Downton feel like more than just TV show and more like a community. Continue reading

One Wish One Hundred Years

By Lance Weiler
Creator, Wish for the Future

Wish For The Future is a creative platform to empower everyone to shape the world around them and create a better future now. Creator Lance Weiler shares his plans for the new transmedia project and some of the wishes for 2013. 

As another year passes, many are thinking ahead to the next 12 months and what 2013 will bring. But what about a future beyond 2013? What would your “one wish” be for a 100 years from now?

A few weeks ago, we officially kicked off an ambitious project with a 100-year timeline called Wish for the Future. To date, we’ve received over 4,000 wishes from around the world. You can see them here (and even make your own here). Continue reading

Feelin’ Lucky? Enter the #SoulFoodJunkies Pin It to Win It Contest

Score an Independent Lens gift basket, including a collection of Independent Lens and Soul Food Junkies inspired cookbooks, by entering our #SoulFoodJunkies contest on Pinterest.

How do we celebrate both the the premiere of Soul Food Junkies on January 14th and the launch of our Independent Lens Pinterest page? Well, with our very own #SoulFoodJunkies Pin It to Win It campaign of course!

Starting on Tuesday, January 8, pin any one of our seven healthy soul-food-inspired recipes with the hashtag #SoulFoodJunkies and be entered to win a collection of Independent Lens/soul-food-inspired cookbooks, including host Stanley’s The Tucci Cookbook and Soul Food Junkies own Bryant Terry’s Inspired Vegan and Vegan Soul Kitchen. We may even include a little Independent Lens swag for your trouble — think rockin’ T-shirts and water bottles dedicated to your favorite independent documentary show!

So check out our recipes (maybe even submit your own!), tune in to Soul Food Junkies Monday on PBS (check local listings), and get pinning! The contest officially closes Thursday, January 17th at 5pm PST.

Online Symposium Examines and Asks: Why Poverty?

Women play a vital role in the economic prosperity of their families, communities, and countries. Yet in every part of the world, women work longer hours than men, are consistently paid less for their work, are at a higher risk of unemployment, and are far more likely to live in poverty. This central theme is the topic of a global online film symposium Wednesday, December 12 at 2pm ET / 19:00 UTC. To participate, visit

The online symposium will feature clips from Welcome to the WorldSolar Mamas, and other films from Why Poverty?, a global media event created to encourage people to talk about poverty around the world. Continue reading

THE SIFR: A Global Jam Session

The creators of 30 Mosques have been at it again. This year, along with the gorgeous 30 Days of Ramadan site, which showcased user content from around the world, the team have been releasing a series of short films on various facets of Muslim life. Their latest, released today, is a collaborative original music video, featuring Muslim performers and artists from around the world. Creator Aman Ali gives us the scoop below.

As a standup comic, I’m lucky to travel the globe to do shows and get inspiration from fellow artists who are doing things light years ahead of me in terms of creativity. And when I think about all these friends, I kept saying to myself “Wouldn’t it be crazy if we did something together?”

So that’s what I set out to do. I contacted tons of my music friends around the world, pitching them on the idea of putting together a collaborative music video. I couldn’t find many good examples of one to show them, so I had to rely on my slap-happy enthusiasm in order to convince them to take the time out of their busy recording/touring schedules to contribute to a project I had little-to-no street cred to put together.

Luckily, I have lots of friends who do, including my pal Asad Jafri, a DJ and the former Arts and Culture director for the Inner City Muslim Action Network in Chicago. In early August, we put together a list of 20-30 musicians, MCs, poets, and visual artists that we both knew that would be awesome to collaborate with.  We’re all Muslim but we wanted to make a song that was spiritual, but not necessarily overtly Islamic, preachy, or dogmatic. So we decided to center the song around the theme of “blessings.”  We told each artist to create something centered around that theme and encouraged them to take that phrase anywhere that they’d like to creatively. Continue reading

Experiencing Ramadan Around the World

ITVS is excited to support the 30 Mosques documentary project as it continues to evolve, showing the diversity of Muslims all around the world during the month of Ramadan.

Today is day 28 of the “30 Days Ramadan” project produced by 30 Mosques. The project, which gives viewers a sense of what it is like to be a Muslim in America, was initiated in 2009 by comedian Aman Ali and photographer Bassam Tariq, who decided to blog about their Ramadan Mosque “hopping” throughout New York City.

Since then, the project has grown each year, adapting various approaches in order to highlight the unique perspective of various Muslim-Americans. This year, Ali and Tariq turned to social media to spread the message, inviting others to share, tweet, and Facebook their own Muslim-American culture in “30 Mosques in 30 Days”. Participants who use the hashtag #30Days have their Twitter and Instagram posts aggregated to the site. Together, they make an interesting comparison of the many Ramadan observations around the world.

Continue reading

Meet the People Behind Granito: How to Nail a Dictator

The ITVS funded documentary by filmmaker Pamela Yates premieres Thursday, June 28 on POV. See all the people behind the making of and in the story of Granito: How to Nail a Dictator in these stunning photographs by renowned portraitist Dana Lixenberg.

Granito is a story of destinies joined by Guatemala’s past and how a documentary film from 1982, When the Mountains Tremble, becomes forensic evidence to help prove a genocide case against a military dictator.

In Granito, the characters sift for clues buried in archives of mind and place and historical memory, seeking to uncover a narrative that could unlock the past and settle matters of life and death in the present. Like a crime thriller where the narrative is revealed step by step, this epic film travels between present and past, uncovering evidence of massive crimes and bringing accountability to the present. Continue reading

A Hackathon Begins at Silverdocs

The “Silverhacks” panel examines an open source community that unites documentary storytellers and technologists for two days to introduce an original web documentary. ITVS’s Jonathan Archer will participate in the event on Thursday, June 21 at 3p ET.

Hackathons offer documentarians the  chance to collaborate with creative technologists to create a functioning prototype which they can continue to iterate.

“Silverhacks”, a collaboration between SilverDocs and the Living Docs project (Mozilla, ITVS, Tribeca Film Institute, BAVC and the Center for Social Media) added a new dimension — public data.
Continue reading

KLRU Highlights Women Leaders in Austin

This week, KLRU-TV is launching a campaign to identify and bring a spotlight to local women leaders as part of the Women and Girls Lead public media initiative.

Women and girls everywhere are stepping into leadership roles, working to improve their communities, and innovating in science, the arts, business, and governance. Yet there is still much to do to deliver on the promise of equal access, justice, and opportunity for women and girls worldwide. Women and Girls Lead: Austin is a project to showcase extraordinary women and girls in Austin who are changing our community.

Through their new website, KLRU-TV has put out a call to “nominate a woman that has inspired you”. Participants are encouraged to fill out a nomination form and promote via social media to solicit nominations from which they will select several inspiring women from the Austin area to attend a special screening and launch event on August 23rd. These women will also be interviewed as a continuation of the Women and Girls Lead: Austin web series, which is being produced by Texas independent filmmakers Betsy and Carl Crum, supported by ITVS and KLRU through a LINCS co-production. Continue reading

Marriage Equality: A Special ITVS Social Screening of Thomas Allen Harris’s Short Documentary

ITVS presents an online social screening of Marriage Equality: Byron Rushing and the Fight for Fairness on Tuesday, June 12th at 1PM PT / 4PM ET. The event will take place here.

A still from "Marriage Equality: Byron Rushing and the Fight for Fairness"

When President Obama stated his support for gay marriage a few weeks ago, the headlines were splashed across news outlets around the the world. For Pride Month, the National Black Programming Consortium launched a film made by Thomas Allen Harris – the first film to illuminate the role of African Americans in securing same-sex marriage as a Civil Right! Continue reading