Titled “Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” the PBS documentary (and multimedia project) will dig into the significance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in American history, culture, and national identity, via the many stories from HBCU students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The documentary will tell stories of Americans who would not be denied a higher education, demonstrating how the 150-year history of HBCUs have influenced generations of Americans and shaped the landscape of the country.
An initiative to help media creators of color break into public broadcasting is also helping those artists realize the importance of their voices.
The 360 Incubator and Fund from the National Black Programming Consortium is now taking applications for its second year of fellows, who receive mentorship, training and networking opportunities through NBPC and other public and commercial media professionals.
At the NBPC incubator in Harlem, participants hone pitches and learn to tailor their presentations to different audiences; they build toward Pitch Black, where a panel of media professionals picks winners. They can also embed within stations to better understand the public broadcasting system. Last year’s four winners continue to develop their projects and pitches, using grants from $50,000 to $150,000 from CPB.
The media makers have discovered the challenges of filmmaking in Africa, tackled the unpredictability of launching a reality show, learned how tough funding a dramatic series can be, and realized that going through the incubator “is a grind, but the payoff is great,” as one said.
The major lesson for NBPC was that “independent producers really do need this support,” said Kay Shaw, director of programs and acquisitions. “Most of the time, we give them money and hope for the best. But we’ve realized that an immersive, intensive, hands-on atmosphere really shapes those projects much more quickly.”
Here’s an update on last year’s winners.
NEW YORK — Four TV and web series that explode myths, expose hidden trauma and empower the black community moved a big step closer to the small screen after taking home $50,000 to $150,000 in prize money for pilot development from the National Black Programming Consortium’s inaugural Pitch Black event April 23.
Panels of judges selected the projects, which focus on topics such as black fathers, surfers in Senegal, Detroit high-schoolers and mental illness tinged with the supernatural, after a day of pitches by eight finalists in a new incubator, NBPC 360. Winners were evaluated on technical and artistic merit, social and cultural relevance, creative team and compatibility with PBS at a time when the network is exploring ways to attract a younger and more diverse audience.
These projects “will bring vitally needed fresh perspectives and new voices to public media [and] vibrant, engaging stories about the black experience to American audiences,” said NBPC Executive Director Leslie Fields-Cruz.
- My Africa Is, a television documentary series from Nosarieme Garrick and Hassatou Diallo, which tells dynamic and diverse stories of African youth culture that challenge tired stereotypes of the African continent;
- Street Cred, by Sultan Sharrief and Oren Goldenberg, a reality television show following 12 Detroit high school students who master tasks in entertainment production to win internships on the set of a feature film;
- Pixie Dust from Damon Colquhoun and Shertease Wheeler, a scripted web series that is an urban fantasy about a magical 13-year-old girl and her mentally ill mother; and
- POPS by Garland McLaurin and Jason Samuels, a documentary web series that explores and celebrates black fatherhood, attempting to reframe media focus on the absence of black men in their children’s lives.
The inspiring new documentary, “180 Days: Hartsville,” takes a fresh look at the nation’s poverty and education challenges in a rural South Carolina town. The two-hour special, co-produced by South Carolina ETV (SCETV) and National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC), airs tonight, on PBS, from 8 to 10 p.m. ET (check local listings). The film was funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) as part of “American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen,” a public media initiative to stem the dropout crisis by supporting community-based solutions.
Co-directors Jacquie Jones and Garland McLaurin, the team behind the Peabody Award-winning documentary “180 Days: A Year Inside an American High School,” which premiered in 2013, joined SCETV in Hartsville, South Carolina for more than a year. They filmed in 2 elementary schools struggling with new curriculum standards and maintaining funding, while meeting the needs of individual students. South Carolina ranks 45th in the country in education. The majority of Hartsville residents hover on the poverty line with a median income of less than $30,000 and more than half of the city’s students qualify for free and reduced-price school lunches.
The National Black Programming Consortium documentary series 180 Days: A Year Inside an American High School is the proud winner of a 2013 Peabody Award.
The documentary which aired last year on PBS and was directed by Jacquie Jones, turns the harsh glare of the spotlight on the nation’s educational crisis.
The cameras follow the day-to-day stories of students, parents, teachers, and staff at the Washington Metropolitan High School also known as the DC Met, providing a unique window into a public school and system trying desperately to make a difference in the lives of each student.
Jacquie Jones tells Black Enterprise, “The Peabody was a tremendous validation. We really wanted to give people a first-hand look at what happens in these schools. There is so much rhetoric about test scores and teacher accountability, common core and poverty but if you’re not in the school you don’t really have a sense of how all these things come together in the lives of these kids. So what we wanted to show was an intimate portrayal of what it’s really like to walk a mile in their shoes.”
Led by a dynamic and outspoken young principal, the series is a raw, unprecedented first-hand account of life inside the school reform movement.
Jones talks about working alongside the principal. She tells BE, “We just started hanging out with her there and getting a sense of what the challenges were. She was so open and so dynamic and interested in being a part of this project that showcased these many challenges and it all sort of just came together.”
At DC Met, as the District public high school is lovingly called by the adults and young people featured in 180 Days, school principal Tanisha Williams Minor races and even rhymes to prepare her students to take the DC Comprehensive Assessment System tests (DC CAS). A bright and beautiful young woman willing to bop and rap to engage and motivate her students, Minor code-switches with ease, transitioning from standard English to colloquial expressions and expressing authentic closeness with her students - and the communities from which they come. The DC CAS scores in math and English are one in a series of about 15 metrics that Minor says the District of Columbia Public Schools system uses to rate schools and determine the professional destinies of the adults who staff them. If students fail, the principal and teachers fail, and school staff members may lose their jobs.
The National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications unveiled its 2012 NAMIC Vision Award nominees earlier today. The award honors original, multi-platform television programing that showcases the lives, essence, ethnic diversity and contributions of people of color globally.