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 

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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.

 

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

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.

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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

ITVS and Independent Lens Receive 13 News and Documentary Emmy Nominations

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced this year’s nominees for the 35th annual News & Documentary Emmy® Awards, which recognizes outstanding achievement in broadcast journalism and documentary filmmaking. And ITVS is proud to say that nine of our documentaries received 13 nominations for 2013!

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PBS received a total of 43 nominations — the most of any network — including 10 nominations for Independent Lens, 11 nominations for FRONTLINE (two for the ITVS-funded Outlawed in Pakistan), and six for POV (including Reportero), so it’s a great day all around for public media documentaries! The News & Documentary Emmy Awards will be presented on Tuesday, September 30th, 2014, in New York City.

“These Emmy nominations are a testament to the expemplary journalism that independent documentary filmmakers practice,” said Lois Vossen, Independent Lens Deputy Executive Producer. “They reflect the extraordinary vitality and diversity of our vibrant independent documentary community.”

And without further ado, here are the ITVS films receiving Emmy honors: Continue reading

ITVS Snags Four Peabody Awards!

Administered by the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, the George Foster Peabody Award is one of the most prestigious honors in electronic media.

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Independent Lens programs The House I Live InHow to Survive a Plague, and The Invisible War, in addition to the ITVS-funded Latino Americans series, were among the films honored with a Peabody Award this year.

Congratulations to the filmmakers on this incredible achievement! This brings the total of Peabody awards for ITVS films to 29. Continue reading

In Loving Memory of Patrick Baroch

We have lost a beloved colleague and a dear friend. Patrick Baroch, ITVS’s National Engagement Consultant in Seattle, passed away last week in Port Orchard, Washington.

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The loss to ITVS and the world-at-large is immeasurable. In his role organizing Community Cinema screenings in the Pacific Northwest for the past nine years, Patrick cultivated a vibrant community of partners who collaborated with him to present memorable events that left a lasting impact on those who participated. Beyond his work in the Northwest, Patrick guided and supported 20 other ITVS partner organizations across the country in producing local engagement activities inspired by our documentaries. He approached his work with creative zeal, warmth, intelligence, and humor. Words cannot express how much he will be missed. Continue reading