ITVS 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.

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.

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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.

T-Rex (World Premiere)

T-Rex is an intimate story about a new kind of American heroine. For the first time, women’s boxing is included in the 2012 Olympics. Fighting for gold is 17-year-old Claressa “T-Rex” Shields. From the streets of Flint, Michigan, Claressa is undefeated and utterly confident. Her fierceness extends beyond the ring. She desperately wants to take her family to a better, safer place and winning gold could be her only chance.

Welcome to Leith

Welcome to Leith is chronicles the attempted takeover of a small town in North Dakota by notorious white supremacist Craig Cobb. As his behavior becomes more threatening, tensions soar, and the residents desperately look for ways to expel their unwanted neighbor. The unsettling underpinning of the film is how we wrestle with our democratic principles when they’re pushed to the limit.

Best of Enemies

Best of Enemies is a documentary about the storied debates in 1968 between two great public intellectuals, liberal Gore Vidal and conservative William F. Buckley Jr. Intended as commentary on the issues of their day, these vitriolic and explosive encounters came to define the modern era of public discourse in the media, marking the big bang moment of our contemporary media landscape when spectacle trumped content and argument replaced substance.

PBS will be hosting meet-and-greets with these filmmakers at the PBS Anywhere Lounge. Best of Enemies and T-Rex will in the Lounge on Saturday at 4pm, and Welcome to Leith producers will be in attendance Monday from 4:30pm-5:30pm.

 

Panels

Finding a TV Partner in a Digital World

Monday, March 16th 12:30pm-1:30pm

In the digital era of Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, and many other OTT portals, how valuable is a broadcaster for your doc? Come find out at this panel moderated by Elizabeth Sheldon, SVP Kino Lorber, along with Lois Vossen from Independent Lens, Jill Burkhart of EPIX Documentary Programming, Cynthia Kane of Al Jazeera, and Jennie Morris from Participant Media.

Tool-Kit for Crafting an Interactive Documentary

Monday, March 16th 12:30pm-1:30pm

Filmmaker Andrew Beck Grace and Toronto-based Helios Design Labs worked remotely for six months to produce the interactive documentary essay “After the Storm.” By using this project as a test-case, this session, featuring Cathy Fisher from ITVS, will present a tool-kit of ideas for other creators in the medium while exploring the how and why of interactive, web-native nonfiction storytelling.

Doc Distribution: Get Up to Speed with PBS Indies

Tuesday, March 17th 11:00AM-12:00PM

Are you a filmmaker interested in showcasing your film on PBS? Then you don’t want to miss this panel. Filmmakers Byron Hurt, Yance Ford, and Marshall Curry will be joined by Donald Thoms (VP Programming/General Audience; PBS) and Liz Cheng (GM; World Channel) to share why public media might be the distribution channel you’ve been searching for.

What’s the Value of Your Digital Rights?

Tuesday, March 17th 12:30pm-1:30pm

Learn from industry experts, including ITVS’s Isaac Hager, how much digital rights are worth to filmmakers and distributors launching titles on outlets such as iTunes, Amazon, and Netflix. You’ll walk away from this session with insight into which platforms are winning in the battle for viewer attention, as well as a greater understanding of the deal structures and windowing strategies negotiated as part of these licensing deals.

Who’s Going to Fund Your Webseries?

Tuesday, March 17th 12:30pm-1:30pm

Meet the industry leaders, including ITVS’s Karim Ahmad, developing, funding, and supporting independent web series in new ways, paving the way for creators of bold new episodic content online. We’ll discuss what they look for, how their programs work, and talk with veteran creators about their development strategy, and what are the opportunities for web series in today’s digital landscape.

 

PBS Party at the Parish

The annual PBS party is one we look forward to every year. On March 15th at 9pm, come help us celebrate independent film on PBS with drinks, BBQ, and live music by Best Coast.

Can’t make it to Austin this year? We’ll be capturing all of the madness on Twitter and Instagram so be sure to follow along!

ITVS Heads to the Sundance Film Festival

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By Elisabeth Copper

ITVS Social Media Manager, @eacopper

With parkas, scarves, and boots in tow, we’ve hit the road for what’s going to be an incredible week in Park City, Utah! A couple of us have already arrived at Sundance to meet with storytellers and directors, participate in panels, and preview some of the year’s most buzzed about films, which includes five ITVS supported documentaries. If you’re in town, you definitely don’t want to miss the following screenings:

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William F. Buckley & Gore Vidal in the film Best of Enemies. (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute; ABC Photo Archives)

Best of Enemies by Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon

Legendary nationally televised debates in 1968 between two great public intellectuals, Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley, defined a new era of public discourse in the media, the moment TV’s political ambition shifted from narrative to spectacle.

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution by Stanley Nelson

Whether they were right or wrong, whether they were good or bad, more than 40 years after the Black Panther Party was founded in Oakland, California, the group, and its leadership, remain powerful figures in our popular imagination. This film weaves voices from varied perspectives who lived this story — police, FBI informants, journalists, white supporters, and detractors, those who remained loyal to the party and those who left it.

In Football We Trust by Tony Vainuku and Erika Cohn

In Football We Trust chronicles the journey of young Polynesian-American men in Utah, as they transform out of their adolescence, striving to take warrior culture to the next level, through American football. 

(T)ERROR by David Sutcliffe and Lyric Cabral

(T)ERROR is the story of S****  a 62-year-old former Black Panther turned counterterrorism informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Welcome to Leith by Michael Nichols and Christopher Walker

Welcome to Leith offers a glimpse into a North Dakota town struggling for sovereignty against one man’s extremist vision. Filmed during an 8-month period documenting a white separatist’s arrest for terrorizing the townspeople on an armed patrol, and his subsequent release from jail six months later.

The ITVS crew will be around for the duration of the festival so if you see us around, make sure you stop by and say hello. Here’s to a great week and we can’t wait to see you on the slopes!

 

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

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

PBS Annual Meeting 2014: Guide to the City by the Bay, Part II

The countdown to the 2014 PBS Annual Meeting is in full force! While many will be busy attending different events and sessions, it is important to remember to take some time to sit back and enjoy the wealth of culinary delights San Francisco has to ­offer.

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Check out a few of our favorite food and drink spots, all conveniently located near the Marriot Marquis:

Maiden Lane

Located on a quaint pedestrian only street that used to be the center of San Francisco’s red-light district, Maiden Lane is now lined with high-end retail shops and quiet cafés that spill into the street. Sit back and enjoy a cappuccino, tea, or a tasty treat at one of the outdoor cafés. Maiden Lane, btwn Stockton St. & Kearny St.

Local Edition

Downstairs in the historical Hearst building sits a cocktail bar that will take you back in time. Inspired by the journalism industry of the 50’s and 60’s Local Edition offers contemporary and traditional cocktails. Try their updated versions of the Bloody Mary or Gibson as you sit among vintage San Francisco newspapers.
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PBS Annual Meeting 2014: A Guide to the City by the Bay

In less than a week, public television professionals will gather in ITVS’s hometown of San Francisco for PBS’s Annual Meeting and we thought it would be fun to provide attendees with recommendations for things to do and see while in town.

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Whether you’re a bibliophile in search of some good reading material or just want to experience a bit of indie history, here are a few of our favorite literary, theatre, and music destinations:

City Lights

Founded in 1953, this literary landmark was once the go-to spot for the poets and beatniks of the counterculture era. Today, City Lights is three floors high and filled to the brim with both new releases and obscure titles from small, harder-to-find specialty publishers. If you’re looking for something special to bring back home, check out their local section – you won’t find mementos like these in the airport gift shop! 1585 Folsom Street.

Green Apple Books

Not only does Green Apple make an appearance on just about every “Best of the Bay Area” list there is, in 2012 author Dave Eggers named it one of the best bookstores in the country. Come prepared by grabbing a snack at the nearby Toy Boat Dessert Café, because you truly could spend hours browsing one of the largest collections of used books in the city.  506 Clement Street

Castro Theatre

While the film on the screen may be the main attraction, this 1920s movie palace truly steals the show; the fantasy setting includes ornate ceilings, gold-framed mirrors, dramatic mezzanine staircases, and a pipe organ that is played before selected films and events. You’ll find a wide array of films and activities on the schedule, including repertory movies, cult classics, theme nights, film festivals, and sing-a-longs. 429 Castro Street Continue reading

#ITVSSXSW: A Preview

By Elisabeth Copper
ITVS Social Media Manager, @eacopper

altthumbITVS is packing up and heading out to Austin for what is going to be our busiest and most memorable SXSW yet! We’ll be in the Lone Star state on Thursday to meet with filmmakers, innovators, and storytellers, as well as eat some BBQ… lots and lots of BBQ.

If you have a film or interactive badge, you won’t want to miss the first of our Saturday panels, “New Narratives: Building an Interactive Storyworld.”  ITVS, Murmur, Storycode, and Ted Hope will be on hand to discuss the emerging genre of interactive narrative film, as well as provide attendees with ways to create immersive storyworlds.

Our second Saturday session, “Meet the Insiders: Funding and Special Organizations,” will provide independent filmmakers with a plan of action to help get their passion projects funded. Expert panelists – featuring Independent Lens Series Producer Lois Vossen and ITVS Senior VP of Content Jim Sommers – will present best practices when trying to get your project off the ground, review funding options, and shed light on what makes a funding proposal really stand out.

For filmmakers in town on Monday, don’t miss the chance to join Vossen at the “Meet the Mentors: Distribution, Documentary” event. She will be on hand to give advice and answer your questions about distribution for documentary films.

The ITVS crew will be around for the duration of the festival, so if you see us at the SXSW Film Opening Party or chowing down at Stubbs, make sure you stop by and join in on the fun. We’ll be sharing all things Austin on Instagram and Twitter, so if you aren’t already, be sure to give us a follow!

Fundraising in a New Media Landscape: Three Lessons From Sundance

This year, three ITVS-supported films premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris showcased both his feature film and transmedia project as a part of New Frontier, a program that showcases multi-media storytelling. These projects inspired ITVS to create a panel focusing on the challenges of fundraising for documentary and transmedia projects.

Kamal Sinclair, Sr. Manager Sundance New Frontier Story Lab; Jim Sommers, Sr. Vice President of Content at ITVS; N'Jeri Eaton, Programming Manager at ITVS; Thomas Allen Harris, Through A Lens Darkly and Digital Diaspora Family Reunion; Shukree Tilghman, More Than A Month and More Than A Mapp app; Kay Shaw, Director of Public Media Corps at NBPC

Pictured (L-R): Kamal Sinclair, Sr. Manager Sundance New Frontier Story Lab; Jim Sommers, Senior Vice President of Content at ITVS; N’Jeri Eaton, Programming Manager at ITVS; Thomas Allen Harris, Through A Lens Darkly and Digital Diaspora Family Reunion; Shukree Tilghman, More Than A Month and More Than A Mapp app; Kay Shaw, Director of Public Media Corps at NBPC

The panel marked ITVS’s first event with the Blackhouse Foundation. For the last seven years, Blackhouse has held a venue at the Sundance Film Festival as a place that both celebrates Black cinema and provides networking opportunities for filmmakers.

The panel was packed with experts in the field who could speak specifically to the challenges facing filmmakers. Panelists included Director of Public Media Corps Kay Shaw from the National Black Programming Consortia; Senior Manager Kamal Sinclair from the Sundance New Frontier Story Lab; filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris of Through a Lens Darkly and its transmedia component Digital Diaspora Family  Reunion, and myself.  The panel was moderated by filmmaker Shukree Tilghman, who also went through the film/transmedia funding gauntlet with his film More Than A Month and the related phone app More Than A Mapp. Continue reading

Public Media Puts Social TV Front and Center at SXSW

ITVS will unveil the tablet version of OVEE, a social screening platform developed for PBS and public television stations, at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival on Friday, March 8, 2013.

This Friday, ITVS’s social screening platform, OVEE, will be featured at SXSW! Our own Dennis Palmieri and software developer Christian Nelson of Carbon Five will present all the interactive wizardry and audience engagement OVEE has to offer. If you happen to be in Austin for the big event, their panel will light up the stage 5 p.m. Friday at the Austin Convention Center, Room 12AB. If you aren’t lucky enough to be in Austin, follow the insights and discussions around the panel on Twitter through the hashtag #OVEE.

The breakthrough social platform, which fuses the functionality of second screen apps with a high-quality video player, offers interactive features for 500+ audiences, including live chat, real-time emoticators, polls, quizzes, live webcam capabilities, and one-click audience metrics snapshots.

Now available on the iPad, “OVEE re-creates the dynamics and the feel of a live screening event in the online space,” says Dennis Palmieri, ITVS’s OVEE project lead. “It’s as close as you can come to sitting in a theater and watching a film or video program with a live audience.”

Along with headlining a panel on opening day of the SXSW Interactive Festival, OVEE will also be featured at the Integrated Media Association (iMA) conference, the premier showcase for transmedia and multiplatform work in the public media sector, on March 7th in Austin, TX. Stay tuned for more updates from the field!