Tips & Tools for Open Call Applications

In response to the growing demand for submission resources, the ITVS Programming Department hosted two informational webinars for filmmakers submitting for Open Call funding.

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Throughout the year, hopeful applicants have a tendency to bombard the ITVS Programming Department with questions regarding their submissions to various funding initiatives. This year, Programming Manager N’Jeri Eaton hosted two webinars offering insight on the process and firsthand advice for filmmakers for their treatments and work samples.

The first webinar was devoted to the art of treatment writing, where Eaton was joined by ITVS-funded filmmakers Christine Turner (Homegoings) and Llew Smith (Denial: An American Dilemma).  The filmmakers shared excerpts from their treatments and answered questions from the webinar participants.  You can watch the full webinar below:

Treatment Writing Webinar 12-9-13-vimeo from ITVS_VIDEO on Vimeo.

Next, ITVS hosted an OVEE screening featuring three 10-minute work samples that had been recently funded by ITVS: Samantha Grant’s A Fragile Trust, Juli Vizza’s Nine to Ninety, and Jamie Meltzer’s Freedom Fighters.  Due to clearance rights issues, we are unable to post the work samples, but you can read a transcript of the informative chat here.

And, as an extra bonus, we have a revised edition of our guide to Writing an ITVS Treatment. Continue reading

Our New Website: What’s in it for ITVS Filmmakers

If you’ve been funded by ITVS, you’re already familiar with the resources we bring to bear in support of your project. The new ITVS.org takes it one step further, putting our reach and resources into your hands directly.

It’s all about leverage, and ITVS.org offers new ways to engage your audience. For the first time ever, you will be able to post your own screenings, making ITVS.org an extension of your current marketing efforts. (You should have received an email last week explaining how to post your screenings. Contact us if you need it resent.)

The new “Related Films” feature (at thew bottom of each film overview page) allows like-minded fans of other similar films to discover yours, and by linking your film’s page to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, we enable you to attract and engage these new fans, building a base you can convert when trying to fund your next project.

In addition, your film pages are also now a one-stop shop for all your promotional materials, turning ITVS.org into the perfect electronic press kit (EPK). Just point your adoring press to ITVS.org and you can be sure they receive all the info they need for that great review.

Got questions? Post them here in the comments and we’ll answer them.

Top Five Predictions for Films and Digital Distribution: Second Part

The Independent Digital Distribution Lab –– IndiesLab for short –– is a joint initiative of ITVS and PBS designed to help filmmakers navigate the marketplace and to generate revenue streams while also having a social impact. In the post below, Indie Labs Director Davin Hutchins shares his second of five predictions about the future of films and digital distribution. Be sure to visit Beyond the Box blog over the next several months to hear more predictions.

IndiesLab Director Davin Hutchins

IndiesLab Director Davin Hutchins

In my last blog post, I made my first prediction –– “Creative Destruction Will Continue… And That’s a Good Thing.” Over the next few months, as independent filmmakers proceed with their projects for 2010, I will attempt to share some tough love, sage advice, and cause for hope.

PREDICTION 2: Curation Will Become As Important As Technology

When I lived in San Francisco, every Friday I would stroll down the street from my apartment on Russian Hill to Washington Square and check out the video wares at The Film Yard. My mission: to get an indie flick for my wife and me. There was usually one clerk. I don’t remember his name but let’s call him “Brad.” Even on a busy Friday night, Brad usually remembered me and my last rental. Brad could even make insightful recommendations based upon my body language when I hovered near the “documentaries” or “20th century period pieces” aisles.

The main problem with online film delivery platforms today is there is no “Brad.” At best, there’s an algorithm mixed with a cookie cross-referenced with my purchase history. Usually when I watch a video online, a crude piece of code will analyze the keywords in the video I just watched and then regurgitate the five videos with the closest metadata. Four of those are usually user-generated drivel. More sophisticated platforms like iTunes or Amazon do feature technology like “Genius” recommendations or “Customers who bought this item also bought…” But the front of the store still connotes the New Releases rack at Blockbuster. What I crave –– what we all crave I think –– is a site that knows me right as I walk in the door. Something like my.hulu.com.

Continue reading

Ask Programming: Seven Tips When Applying for Funding

ITVS programming staff answer questions from filmmakers about the funding process:

Q: How can I improve my chances of being successful in the Open Call?

A. ITVS Programming staff recently contributed to an article for Shaking the Money Tree by Morrie Warshawski. Here are seven tips for producers when applying for funding from ITVS.

1. Read the guidelines and application instructions thoroughly and follow them. This tip sounds so simple and one should assume that it goes without saying –– but like any instruction manual, it is essential to go over the guidelines very carefully and to follow them before filling out the application.

Here are some other pieces of advice to keep in mind:

  • Submit the proposal online, and ALSO submit the paper and required (video) materials –– some applicants do not submit their hard copy proposals and video materials and then they are disqualified.
  • Deadlines are not flexible –– we need to receive them in the office by the deadline date or they will not be accepted.
  • Read the fine print on the guidelines and application. The ITVS award is not a grant, it is a contract agreement, thus certain requirements and deliverables must be accepted (because of FCC guidelines, your project must adhere to broadcast standards).
  • Do not submit extra materials –– letters of recommendation, graphics or illustrations, gifts or personal director statements are not required. The materials will be reviewed by staff and evaluators based on the required materials only.
  • Use 12-point font –– don’t try to cram everything in your treatment pages because of limited space. The evaluators appreciate clear writing and size 12 font is easier on the eyes.

2. Budget your project realistically. If you under-budget your project, that does not mean that you have a greater chance of being approved. If you over-budget your project, this will be taken into account and can jeopardize the approval. Each initiative has different budget thresholds and is indicated in the guidelines. For example, Open Call does not require an itemized budget in the first phase, but does require that you indicate the request amount and what money has been already raised. The average request for Open Call is between $80,000 and 250,000 for a one-hour documentary.

Continue reading

Join the Live Streaming Webcast Tonight: Myths of Filmmaking and Funding

ITVS recently hosted a special live streaming webcast of the San Francisco Film Society (SFFS)’s Arts Forum, a bi-monthly workshop that includes dynamic presentations, topical panels, works-in-progress screenings, and trade secrets.

The forum, entitled “Thinking Outside the Doc Box,” is designed to explode the myth that funders and broadcasters only want one kind of film. The evening will feature a keynote address by ITVS Senior Programming Manager Richard Saiz. Karen Everett, owner of New Doc Editing will give an overview of innovative structural approaches to documentaries and Michele Turnure-Salleo, director of filmmaker services at SFFS, will address the topic of institutional funding of documentaries. The evening will conclude with a conversation between Saiz and Everett about contemporary issues in documentary production and questions from the live audience.

Missed the webcast?  The video recording is available below.

Thinking Outside the Doc Box from Programming on Vimeo.

Learn more about this event and others on the San Francisco Film Society website >>

Live Streaming Webcast: Exploring Myths of Filmmaking and Funding

ITVS is hosting a special live streaming webcast on Monday, February 8 at 7:30 PM PST of the San Francisco Film Society (SFFS)’s Arts Forum, a bi-monthly workshop that includes dynamic presentations, topical panels, works-in-progress screenings, and trade secrets.

Beyond the Box will be streaming the event live on Monday so filmmakers across the country ––and around the world –– can learn more. The forum, entitled “Thinking Outside the Doc Box,” is designed to explode the myth that funders and broadcasters only want one kind of film.

The evening will feature a keynote address by ITVS Senior Programming Manager Richard Saiz. Karen Everett, owner of New Doc Editing will give an overview of innovative structural approaches to documentaries and Michele Turnure-Salleo, director of filmmaker services at SFFS, will address the topic of institutional funding of documentaries. The evening will conclude with a conversation between Saiz and Everett about contemporary issues in documentary production and questions from the live audience.

We hope you’ll take advantage of this great opportunity. The discussion will begin streaming on Monday, February 8 at 7:30 PM PST.

Learn more about the event on the SFFS website >>

Bookmark the live video feed >>