Behind the Scenes with the Makers of the Interactive Documentary After the Storm

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After the Storm, co-created by Andrew Beck Grace and Helios Design Studios, is an immersive personal essay created for online, tablet, and mobile viewing. Recently launched through a partnership with Independent Lens and The Washington Post, it tells the story of what happens after the storm passes, the media leaves town, and the adrenaline subsides.

ITVS Senior Content Producer Cathy Fischer asked filmmaker Andrew Grace and Creative Technologist Mike Robbins about the process and for some tips for filmmakers working in the emerging area of interactive documentary. 
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ITVS at SXSW 2015

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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.

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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: The National Listening Tour Comes to New York City

This post was originally published on the POV blog 

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On February 23, 2015 from 2 PM ET to 5 PM ET, POV, along with PBS, ITVS, WNET, Independent Lens and the Indie Caucus, will be in New York City for the second stop in the National Listening Tour for Independent Films on PBS at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan. RSVP now »

In keeping with its commitment to independent film and filmmakers, PBS leadership is hosting a series of open forums around the country with independent filmmakers, PBS series producers, and other public media and community partners. At each event, participants are invited to voice their priorities and innovative ideas on how all can work together to strengthen distribution, viewership and community engagement through Independent Lens, POV and all kinds of independent films.

Watch highlights from San Francisco, the first stop on the tour last month. The Indie Caucus and Kartemquin Films will host a third stop in Chicago in March, date TBD.

 

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 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)

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Submit Your Film to Independent Lens!

Independent Lens is seeking film submissions of completed or near completed programs for broadcast during the October 2015 – June 2016 season.

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Independent Lens is the largest showcase for independent documentaries anywhere on U.S. television, premiering 22 new films each season. Airing Monday nights at 10pm on PBS, Independent Lens has presented more than 300 thought-provoking documentaries to public television audiences since premiering in 2003.

Independent Lens films are often character driven stories and are known for compelling storytelling, innovation, and diversity. The Emmy and Peabody Award-winning series welcomes individual expression and is committed to presenting diverse points of view, on topics suited for a national audience.

When selecting programs, Independent Lens considers a range of factors, including the quality of the filmmaking, the timeliness of the story, and audience appeal. Programs should offer a fresh perspective, especially if the topic has been explored on other PBS series.

To learn more about eligibility, what we are looking for, and to complete the online submission form go to www.ILsubmissions.org.

An Inside Look at ITVS’s Producer Orientation

As we begin reviewing applications for the second round of Open Call, we want to highlight the experience of a filmmaker who was selected in the previous round for funding. Filmmaker S. Leo Chiang’s documentary, Out Run, was one of eight projects recommended for funding through the initiative. Here he provides a firsthand account of his experience at our ITVS Producer Orientation.

Filmmaker S. Leo Chiang

Filmmaker S. Leo Chiang

It is 9am on a Wednesday morning. Deep in ITVS’s San Francisco headquarters, a roomful of staff members and ITVS-funded producers are staring intently at a projector screen in a darkened room so they can… sing along to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” music video. At the top of their lungs. Under a glittering disco ball.

Say what?

Welcome to ITVS Open Call Orientation!

For an independent documentary producer, few moments are more thrilling than getting that email from ITVS… you know, the one with the word “congratulations” somewhere in the first paragraph. Open Call funding support means that I, as a filmmaker, can now focus on actually making my film without expending more time on the laborious process of fundraising for a production. My film partner Johnny Symons and I have been working on Out Run, a documentary about the only LGBT political party in the world fighting to elect a transgender woman to the Philippine Congress. Needless to say, when we saw the coveted email in our inboxes inviting our project for Open Call co-production funding, we were beside ourselves. The first order of business after receiving the fantastic news? Attending ITVS Orientation. Continue reading

Celebrate Women’s History Month with #SheDocs!

March kicks off the second annual #SheDocs, an online film festival showcasing 12 documentaries highlighting extraordinary women and their accomplishments in celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. The festival is presented by ITVS’s Women and Girls Lead campaign and sponsored by Eileen Fisher, Inc.

Female protagonists in film are few and far between. According to the Annenberg Public Policy Center, women have been consistently underrepresented as main characters for at least six decades. In 2013, females accounted for only 33% of all characters in the top 100 grossing films and only 11% featured women in leadership positions.

Women and Girls Lead is proud to combat these gender stereotypes and misrepresentations with the second annual #SheDocs online film festival, a collection of 12 documentaries highlighting extraordinary women working to close the gender gap and fight inequality. This month-long, free event presents films by prominent independent filmmakers and shines a spotlight on women who are working to transform their lives, their communities, and the world. Continue reading