PBS Shines Light on Independents at 2012 Annual Meeting

By Lois Vossen
Senior Series Producer, Independent Lens

Lois Vossen, Senior Series Producer of Independent Lens

Each spring, PBS hosts its Annual Meeting, an opportunity for people from across the public television landscape to come together and see what worked the year before and look ahead to what the coming year holds.  The PBS Annual Meeting is attended by public television station staff including general managers, programmers, outreach and publicity staff, along with members of the minority consortia, series producers, presenting organizations, and staff from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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New Primetime Home for Indie Series Emerges From Independent Strategy Task Force Meetings

ITVS president and CEO Sally Jo Fifer applauds year-round Monday slot on PBS core schedule to help meet first-order mission of public broadcasting.

I’m pleased to report that the Independent Strategy Task Force has emerged from months of conversation to deliver a new 10 p.m. primetime slot on Monday nights for Independent Lens and POV.  This is great news for our series filmmakers and audiences, but more importantly it affirms the partnership and mission that independents and public broadcasting steward together: amplifying diverse voices to strengthen our democracy.
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The ITVS Indies Roundup

A curated list of indie news and recommendations from ITVS’s Rebecca Huval.

‘Tis the season for film festivals: Both the Tribeca Film Festival and the San Francisco International Film Festival kicked off this week.

Read an enlightening interview of three Tribeca staffers to get a sense of how they winnowed down their film festival choices. “We don’t respect the idea of, ‘I like this, I don’t like this,’” Genna Terranova, director of programming, told The New York Times. “You have to explain why, almost as if you’re looking at it as an academic evaluation. But at the same time, you have to add that human observation: Were you moved? Were you scared?”

Frédéric Boyer, artistic director at Tribeca, was also interviewed by The Awl. The man watches movies like no other: “It was impossible to have children or any love affair because my priority was to watch films,” Boyer said about his early career. “It was a wonderful period because it was a crazy period. I was watching five, six, seven films each day and reading books about cinema. Fortunately, I escaped from this beautiful prison because of music, women, wine, food, life.”

Are you wondering how the JOBS Act might affect you as a filmmaker? This handy guide from Filmmaker Magazine explains how the act will transform indie film funding. Continue reading

The ITVS Indies Roundup

A curated list of indie news and recommendations from ITVS’s Rebecca Huval.

Happy poetry month! Read about the “greatest poetry documentary of all time,” according to the Poetry Foundation: Ron Mann’s 1982 Poetry in Motion.

A new interactive documentary called Barcode is a carnival funhouse of films. Thirty filmmakers produced 100 docs about the objects that surround us, from brooms to lipstick. My favorite short follows subway riders engrossed in books with a voiceover of the lines they’re reading.

YouTube added a pay-per-view option for live streaming of events, which adds another funding platform to your arsenal. Continue reading

The ITVS Indies Roundup

A curated list of indie news and recommendations from ITVS’s Rebecca Huval.

Look, up in the sky! Here comes trouble. When a movie character gawks into the ether, you know something bad is on its way. If you want to avoid this cliche, or simply have a Friday laugh, watch this montage from Devour. (via Open Culture)

If you’re at a loss of what to watch this weekend, check out this list of documentaries opening in April. Continue reading

The ITVS Indies Roundup

A curated list of indie news and recommendations from ITVS’s Rebecca Huval.

The director of the classic Some Like It Hot, Billy Wilder, gave Cameron Crowe some thoughtful filmmaking advice in the 1990s. Though Wilder was talking about screenwriting, his list applies to documentary filmmaking as well, including such gems as “Grab ’em by the throat and never let ’em go.”

You probably know that recently released documentaries are being taught in classrooms today. But did you know that a free school essay for The Interrupters is already available online? (via Kartemquin)
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FOCUS ON: No-budget filmmaking with Mark Thiedeman

By Melody Morgan

FOCUS ON is a regular interview series profiling independent filmmakers and their projects. Up this week is Mark Thiedeman, who has directed many short films and one feature film, The Scoundrel. His new feature, Last Summer, is currently in development and is scheduled to shoot in Arkansas in August.

A scene from "Last Summer," Mark Thiedeman's upcoming feature film

What is the least amount of money you’ve spent on a narrative feature, and how did you manage that?

I shot a no-budget feature in New York a few years ago called The Scoundrel. It cost about $3,000, which was essentially the cost of food, transportation, and half a dozen props. I had an amazing cinematographer, David Goodman, who worked for free, and had some nice looking locations, which were also free. Lucky for us, there are certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn with beautiful restaurants, apartments, and bars that seem to have come from a different era. No art direction required. Why pay for set decoration when you don’t have to?
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Note to Independent Producers: Be More Social!

By Jonathan Archer

As part of ITVS Programming’s ongoing mission to serve the filmmaking community, Jonathan Archer has been seeking out filmmakers to provide their perspectives and experiences from the trenches. First up, The Weather Underground producer, Marc Smolowitz. He recently presented on a panel entitled The Power of Storytelling and was kind enough to share some of his thoughts and strategies with BTB.

Scene from The Power of Two by Marc Smolowitz

Last month, I presented at the Netsquared Meetup in San Francisco on “The Power Of Storytelling.” I decided to connect my remarks to two current labors of love — The Power Of Two — my feature documentary inspired by the life stories of twin double lung recipients; and The HIV Story Project — a new nonprofit that I co-founded in 2009.
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Deadline News Indies Can Use

One of BTB’s chief responsibilities is to keep an eye out for news the independent producer can use. With that in mind, we asked our Programming Department to highlight upcoming deadlines for us — featuring funding opportunities, festival deadlines, and other things you may find helpful. These will be for both U.S. and international producers … Enjoy and good luck!


Jan Vrijman Fund
DEADLINE: May 15, 2011
The Jan Vrijman Fund is looking for creative documentaries and documentary events in developing countries (PDF). Funding categories include Script and Project Development, Production and Post-Production, and Other activities (including Distribution Initiatives; Documentary Film Festivals; Documentary Workshops). The Jan Vrijman Fund gives financial support twice a year. Application deadlines are January 15 and May 15. Click here for more details.

CAAM Media Fund
DEADLINE: May 19, 2011
The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) seeks provocative and engaging proposals from independent media producers with projects intended for public television broadcast. Offered once a year, this round of funding is for applicants with documentary projects at the production and/or post-production stage. Click here for more details.

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Half-Dozen ITVS Films Selected by American Library Association

The American Library Association (ALA) has published its 2011 list of Notable Videos for Adults, a list of 15 outstanding programs released on video within the past two years and suitable for all libraries serving adults.

Six ITVS films are among the documentaries selected:

Blacking Up: Hip-Hop’s Remix of Race and Identity

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