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

#ITVSSXSW: A Preview

By Elisabeth Copper
ITVS Social Media Manager, @eacopper

altthumbITVS is packing up and heading out to Austin for what is going to be our busiest and most memorable SXSW yet! We’ll be in the Lone Star state on Thursday to meet with filmmakers, innovators, and storytellers, as well as eat some BBQ… lots and lots of BBQ.

If you have a film or interactive badge, you won’t want to miss the first of our Saturday panels, “New Narratives: Building an Interactive Storyworld.”  ITVS, Murmur, Storycode, and Ted Hope will be on hand to discuss the emerging genre of interactive narrative film, as well as provide attendees with ways to create immersive storyworlds.

Our second Saturday session, “Meet the Insiders: Funding and Special Organizations,” will provide independent filmmakers with a plan of action to help get their passion projects funded. Expert panelists – featuring Independent Lens Series Producer Lois Vossen and ITVS Senior VP of Content Jim Sommers – will present best practices when trying to get your project off the ground, review funding options, and shed light on what makes a funding proposal really stand out.

For filmmakers in town on Monday, don’t miss the chance to join Vossen at the “Meet the Mentors: Distribution, Documentary” event. She will be on hand to give advice and answer your questions about distribution for documentary films.

The ITVS crew will be around for the duration of the festival, so if you see us at the SXSW Film Opening Party or chowing down at Stubbs, make sure you stop by and join in on the fun. We’ll be sharing all things Austin on Instagram and Twitter, so if you aren’t already, be sure to give us a follow!

Diversity Development Fund Announces New Projects

ITVS has announced the eight documentary projects selected as part of the 2013 Diversity Development Fund, a funding initiative that provides research and development funding to producers of color to develop single documentary programs for public television. 

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This year’s selections provide extraordinary access and insight into the daily lives and struggles of people around the world, from Navajo railroad workers in the U.S. to an interracial punk band during the height of apartheid in South Africa.

The productions were selected through a competitive application process, which resulted in 114 submissions.

Check out the complete list of funded projects after the jump. Continue reading

Submit Your Film to Independent Lens!

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Independent Lens is currently seeking submissions of films in advanced rough cut or fine cut stage or completed films to broadcast during the October 2014 – June 2015 season. To learn more about eligibility, what we’re looking for, and to complete our online submission form go to www.ilsubmissions.org.

Any questions? Feel free to drop a line to ILsubmissions@itvs.org.

ITVS Backs Award at the 2013 Pixel Market

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ITVS and Power to the Pixel (PttP) announce the ITVS Impact Pixel Market prize for the best social impact project.

ITVS is excited to partner with this year’s Pixel Market in launching a new award for the best social impact project. Over $4,500 (£3,000) in development funding will be awarded to the winning fiction or non-fiction project that makes a significant social impact.

The Pixel Market lies at the heart of PttP’s Cross-Media Forum, now in its seventh year, which covers the latest trends in audience behavior and new business models in the international marketplace.

The Cross-Media Forum will take place October 15 through 18, 2013 in association with the 57th BFI London Film Festival. The four-day event incorporates a conference, a think tank, and The Pixel Market, a two-day finance and co-production market.

The deadline for entries to the market and eligibility for the ITVS Impact Pixel Market Prize is August 1, 2013.

To learn more about The Pixel Market and Power to the Pixel’s Cross-Media Forum, please click here.

Four ITVS Programs Nominated for Imagen Awards

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Granito: How to Nail a Dictator, Mariachi High, Precious Knowledge, and Tales of Masked Men were the ITVS programs recognized with nominations for the 28th annual Imagen Awards.

Administered by the Imagen Foundation, the Imagen Awards aim to recognize and reward positive portrayals of Latinos in all forms of media, as well as to encourage and recognize the achievements of Latinos in the entertainment and communications industries.

A panel of entertainment industry executives and Latino community leaders select the winners for each category. The awards will be presented on Friday, August 16 at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, CA and will be aired as a one-hour special on PBS SoCal. Continue reading

Don’t Miss the ITVS Open Call Deadline

The Independent Television Service (ITVS) seeks applications for the Open Call funding initiative.

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Open Call provides completion funds for single nonfiction public television programs on any subject, and from any viewpoint. Projects must have begun production as evidenced by a work-in-progress video. Open Call funding is only available to independent producers who are citizens or legal residents of the U.S. and its external territories.

Open Call accepts:

  • Single programs of standard broadcast length (half-hour or one-hour). In rare cases, when a filmmaker’s skills, subject, and story structure warrant it, ITVS will consider programs at feature lengths.
  • Programs that can be completed within one year of contract

The deadline June 28th, 2013.

Want to know what makes a good work-in-progress? Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer.  A work-in-progress can vary depending on what material you have, the style of your film, what stage of production you’re in, etc. Check out the insight and advice given by three ITVS-funded producers who have successfully submitted to the Open Call initiative: Shukree Tilghman (More Than a Month)Brad Lichtenstein (As Goes Janesville), and Michael Collins (Give Up Tomorrow).

Additionally, ITVS will be hosting a live chat on Monday, June 24th at 1pm ET/10am PT. Programming Manager N’Jeri Eaton and Senior Production Manager Jorge Trelles will be on hand to answer your questions, from treatments to budgets and all that falls between.

For more information visit: http://www.itvs.org/funding/open-call

Mourning the Loss of Robert West

We deeply regret to announce the death of Robert West, who passed away peacefully in his home Thursday morning.

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Robert has been part of the ITVS family since the late 1990’s, when he worked as an Outreach Coordinator for the later-branded Community Cinema program. During the years that Robert was a part of the ITVS enterprise, he brought a level of commitment and sophistication to the art of community engagement – or as he later dubbed it “reel engagement.” Those of us who had the great pleasure of working with Robert during those years saw firsthand his deep commitment to supporting social issue documentaries and connecting people and organizations in a way that resulted in creating real change. Although he moved on to co-found his own organization, Working Films, Robert always remained involved in the ITVS mission, often assisting staff and filmmakers on various projects over the years.

Robert has been a visionary and a leader in the intersections of media and public engagement. Last fall, he was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), an aggressive and terminal brain cancer. We at ITVS and Independent Lens, along with countless colleagues who have been beneficiaries of his work, were devastated by the news. Not surprisingly, in the months since then, Robert earned our even deeper admiration for the dignity, humor, and grit he has shown. Someone wise once wrote, “A vision without a task is but a dream. A task without a dream is drudgery. But dreams and tasks together are the hope of the world.” Robert epitomized “the hope of the world” through his courage, his actions, and his contributions – back in the day at ITVS, Working Films, and with all the films and filmmakers he has helped. Continue reading

ITVS Responds to The New Yorker article on Park Avenue and Citizen Koch

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In the past week, The New Yorker published an article drawing a connection between corporate influence and freedom of expression that has generated a flurry of press coverage.

ITVS appreciates the scrutiny of the important issue of corporate influence on public broadcasting, and indeed on media in general. As a majority-publicly-funded institution, a rarity even within public broadcasting, ITVS has long been proud of our ability to act independently of corporate and government influence.

Our history of providing top-flight journalism among the rich mix of films we help bring to public broadcasting often puts us in the position of taking on powerful stakeholders. Viewers depend on ITVS-funded filmmakers for the high-quality independent documentaries that appear on our signature TV series Independent Lens and on other PBS series including POV, Frontline, and American Masters.

We treasure our relationship with our viewers, with public broadcasting, and our many other community and NGO partners. Above all, we hold dear our relationships with independent producers and deeply respect the courage and tenacity it takes to tell authentic, compelling stories that inform and connect citizens in a noisy 21st century media space.

As a matter of policy, ITVS respects the privacy of filmmakers and our negotiations. We therefore declined an interview request from The New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer for a May 20, 2013 article she was framing around two documentaries with storylines on David H. Koch. In the days after its publication, we continued to decline interview requests from other outlets.

ITVS now believes the rising flow of misinformation surrounding Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream and Citizen Koch requires public exposure of the facts. We believe these facts demonstrate our commitment to the creative vision of filmmakers, independent journalistic documentaries, and diverse perspectives on issues that are critical for our American democracy and culture.

Here are the facts:

  • ITVS not only supports but also seeks out and funds hard-hitting journalistic documentaries on timely and important issues. ITVS funded and shepherded to Independent Lens in the current season alone award-winning films such as Park Avenue, The House I Live In, The Invisible War, and As Goes Janesville. The quality of Independent Lens programs is reflected in 10 Peabody awards and seven Emmys for the series, which is co-curated with PBS.
  • ITVS funded Alex Gibney’s film Park Avenue, and Independent Lens senior series producer Lois Vossen worked closely with him, per standard protocol, to meet PBS editorial standards and have the film broadcast on PBS.
  • In April 2012, ITVS sent filmmakers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal a standard letter inviting them to begin negotiations for production license funding from ITVS based on their written proposal. Communications between the filmmakers and ITVS continued until April 2013, well beyond the Park Avenue broadcast on November 12, 2012.
  • ITVS initially recommended the film Citizen Corp for production licensing based on a written proposal. Early cuts of the film, including the Sundance version, did not reflect the proposal, however, and ITVS eventually withdrew its offer of a production agreement to acquire public television exhibition rights. The film was neither contracted nor funded.
  • ITVS has worked with thousands of independent filmmakers since our inception. We are committed to supporting the creative vision of filmmakers and respectfully acknowledge that their creative process will bring forth films that no longer reflect the original proposal on which ITVS based its funding recommendation. Filmmakers sometimes choose a new path during the negotiations of the ITVS production agreement as other financial, distribution, and editorial opportunities arise. In the case of the proposed project Citizen Corp (later retitled Citizen Koch), the filmmakers’ shift in editorial direction from the written proposal during the negotiation window led ITVS to cease negotiations.
  • ITVS works hard to shepherd programs en route to broadcast, but it has no authority over the national or local public television schedule. Neither ITVS nor Independent Lens confirmed a broadcast slot for Citizen Corp.
  • ITVS did not attach its name to Citizen Koch at Sundance Film Festival because a production licensing agreement had not been executed.
  • ITVS did not share a cut of Citizen Koch to PBS or any public television station because the film was never contracted by ITVS. The filmmakers continue to control distribution of their film.

Public broadcasting is a complex set of mostly independently operating entities, including PBS, broadcast stations, and a variety of producing organizations. ITVS is unique in this ecosystem. We hope the important conversation about corporate influence will continue, within not only public broadcasting but also the broader media, and stay grounded in facts and substance.