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

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.

On broadcast, PBS will pursue a new programming strategy for independent film. In addition to the Monday at 10 p.m. broadcasts of INDEPENDENT LENS and POV on most PBS stations—including THIRTEEN New York—PBS will create a number of programming events tied to independent films over the course of the 2015-2016 broadcast season. These events will pair an independent film from INDEPENDENT LENS or POV with thematically related programming to optimize audience flow throughout the night—a strategy that has been used successfully across the PBS schedule over the past few years. These films will also receive social media promotion and marketing support to help drive awareness and tune-in. Films featured in these programming events will be announced as INDEPENDENT LENS and POV finalize the titles in their respective upcoming seasons.

“PBS and our local stations are the home for independent film, presenting a variety of viewpoints and perspectives on important issues, which are fundamental elements of public media’s mission. After months of constructive discussion with the independent film community, we are pleased to present a new strategy that we believe will better support this important work and help us reach the younger, diverse audiences who are among the most passionate fans of indies,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming for PBS.

To support all INDEPENDENT LENS and POV films during the 2015-2016 broadcast season, PBS will launch a coordinated, targeted outreach effort across its major social media channels to connect with independent film fans, allow for conversation about the issues highlighted in these films and promote independent films in the pipeline. PBS also plans to create additional promotional tools for its member stations to help them reach independent film fans in their own markets.

Building on the primetime broadcasts of independent film, PBS will maximize its growing digital platforms to distribute and promote independent film content. The Webby Award-nominated PBS Online Film Festival will return for a fourth year June 15-July 17, 2015, and will feature more than 20 short-form independent films from POV and a broad spectrum of public media stations and partners, including the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB), National Black Programming Consortium,National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC),  Wisconsin Media Lab and Vision Maker Media.

PBS is also re-launching its independent film website, pbs.org/indiefilms, which will serve as both an archive of all feature-length and short-form independent film streaming on PBS.org and a platform to preview upcoming films that will broadcast on PBS. PBS has also created “Indie Film” playlists on its over-the-top (OTT) channels, including those on Apple TV and FireTV, so that users of these platforms can more easily find and enjoy independent film content.

PBS and its distribution arm, PBS Distribution, also plan to support several theatrical releases of independent films. In fall 2015, PBS Distribution will bring the INDEPENDENT LENS film “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” to movie screens across the country. The theatrical distribution, when combined with its broadcast on PBS stations, VOD and home entertainment distribution, will enable this critically acclaimed documentary by renowned filmmaker Stanley Nelson to reach a broad and diverse audience.

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Independent Lens film “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution”

In addition, PBS Distribution has entered into a licensing agreement with Indieflix, a subscription-based streaming service for independent film. Starting in May 2015, more than 85 PBS films will be available to Indieflix’s growing subscriber base. Among the titles included in this agreement are “Soul Food Junkies,” “Art & Copy” and “Spies of Mississippi,” all from INDEPENDENT LENS.

PBS LearningMedia, a free media on-demand service from PBS and WGBH used by 1.6 million educators and reaching 30 million students, frequently offers independent film content to K-12 classrooms as an instructional tool. As part of the new strategy to support independent film, PBS, ITVS, POV and WNET will collaborate with PBS LearningMedia to create a curriculum for a non-credit college course on documentary film that highlights films from INDEPENDENT LENS and POV, along with other documentaries in the PBS broadcast schedule.

“This new strategy is an important statement of PBS’ commitment to independent film as a core part of its programming offerings,” said Simon Kilmurry, Executive Director of POV. “Filmmakers and the public alike will benefit from ensuring that the voices and viewpoints in independent films can be seen by the widest possible audience, which in turn will increase their impact.”

WNET Vice President of Programming Stephen Segaller said, “The Listening Tour has ultimately proved to be a worthwhile endeavor, as it affirmed the value that filmmakers place on PBS. As PBS’ flagship station in New York, we’re enthusiastic about participating in this new strategy in the hope that independent films will secure the greater audience they deserve. Pairing specific films with similar or related programming makes sense — to boost tune-in, strengthen online support and increase distribution on diverse platforms. We look forward to helping to promote the work of independent filmmakers on our channels, and we’re optimistic that this new plan will be a great success.”

 

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.

ITVS Appoints Shaady Salehi as Managing Director of Distribution and Audience Development

headshot2Independent Television Service is excited to announce that Shaady Salehi, previously Executive Director of Active Voice, has been appointed Managing Director of Distribution and Audience Development.

As the newest member of the ITVS senior leadership team, Salehi will be responsible for developing and executing strategies for multi-platform distribution, thematic campaigns, station relations, and community engagement and impact. She will also serve as a senior ambassador for the organization, representing ITVS-funded programs and services to the public television system, and expanding and strengthening the connections between local public television stations and the communities they serve.

Salehi has collaborated with myriad filmmakers, distributors, and media companies to increase the reach and social impact potential for their films. Among the many ITVS-funded titles she’s worked with are American Promise, The New Black, The State of Arizona, Welcome to Shelbyville, and Detropia.

“We are thrilled to welcome Shaady to ITVS,” said Sally Jo Fifer, President and CEO. “With more than a decade of experience in media arts, community impact, and strategic communications, she brings deep knowledge of the ways in which audiences engage with independent film. Her expertise and commitment to social interest content promise to strengthen the reach of ITVS to a range of audiences.”

Salehi comes to ITVS after serving 11 years at Active Voice, a pioneering organization that uses film to advance social change. She joined the organization as a researcher, and in 2012 was named Executive Director, succeeding founder Ellen Schneider. Salehi is a 2014 Aspen Institute Fellow, serves on the advisory committee of the Arab Film Festival, and on the board of Let It Ripple, a nonprofit that experiments with collaborative filmmaking for the common good. She also holds a master’s degree in strategic communications from Columbia University.

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.

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.

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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

Ask the Expert: Writing the ITVS Treatment

Programming Manager N’Jeri Eaton hosted an informative webinar last week, reviewing the new Open Call submission process and providing insight into writing the ITVS treatment. This archived webinar is available for those who were unable to attend or are looking to brush up on their treatment knowledge. 

Treatment Webinar from ITVS_VIDEO on Vimeo.

“Writing the ITVS Treatment” was the first in a series of webinars ITVS is hosting in an effort to provide more resources for filmmakers applying to Open Call. The following weekly webinars will be held in the lead up to this year’s deadline:

July 17th
Work-in-Progresses That Work Webinar (read the transcript here)

July 24th
ITVS Budgeting Basics Webinar (read our recap here)

July 31st
Open Call Live Chat

Please note, ITVS will be accepting Open Call applications through Friday, August 8th. For more information about the Open Call initiative or ITVS funding in general, please go to the updated funding pages on our website. And stay tuned to our blogTwitter and Facebook!

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.
691 Market Street

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Decisions on Deadline: Online Game Puts Ethics to the Test

“My goal…is to engage the general public in a conversation about public faith in the media, media ethics, and why we need to support institutional journalism even in this era of democratized media.”
– Samantha Grant, filmmaker

Recently Independent Lens premiered the film, A Fragile Trust, the shocking story of Jayson Blair, the most infamous serial plagiarist of our time, and how he unleashed the scandal that rocked The New York Times and the entire world of journalism.

Inspired by the film, Decisions on Deadline takes the story to another level with a fast-paced game that puts players in the shoes of working journalists as they report on the daily drama of life in Southside, a fictional American town.

We asked producers Samantha Grant and Brittney Shepherd about their foray into making games, their hopes for impact, and ethics and journalism in the digital age.

How did the film, A Fragile Trust, inspire the game?

Samantha Grant (SG): I was a BAVC MediaMaker fellow in 2011, and it was there, during that fellowship, that I first dreamed up the idea for a journalism ethics game. Brittney was attending the fellowship with me, as the co-producer of the film, and at one point during a presentation on gaming, I turned to her as said ‘Yes! A Game!” I wanted to make the game because I realized that the film I was making was bringing up a lot of problems in the field of journalism without offering any solutions. I’m the type of person who, when I see a problem, I immediately start thinking about solutions. Continue reading