Pops

ITVS Digital Open Call Now Accepting Submissions

ITVS is excited to announce its call for entries for the Digital Open Call. Now in its second year, the fund will support independent filmmakers in developing and piloting original web series for public media’s digital platforms, including PBS.org, PBS-branded YouTube channels, and others. ITVS is thrilled to continue building a pipeline for producers to propose dynamic independent digital series projects for R&D and eventual production.

We seek web series that redefine the form and engage younger and more diverse viewership as we expand public media’s presence and mission into the digital sphere, with bold, unflinching, and innovative original storytelling that defies convention and tackles current and controversial issues. Applications for web series in any genre are eligible, and may incorporate interactive or transmedia elements.

The deadline to apply is May 2, 2016, and the online application is now live on the ITVS website, where prospective applicants can also learn more about eligibility and submission requirements. Selected applications will contract with ITVS to receive between $10,000 and $30,000 in R&D funding to develop and pilot their web series over the course of a three-month term.

Here are the four series projects we are proud to be supporting through the 2015 round of Digital Open Call:

PARTY GIRLS
Produced & directed by Michele Barnwell
Party Girls follows a group of young diverse women of varying personal, religious, and political beliefs, as they take a road trip together across America in the months leading up to the 2016 Presidential elections, engaging in the political process as voters for the first time in their lives.

POPS
Produced & directed by Garland McLaurin
Pops follows three African American men facing the toughest challenge of their lives: becoming good fathers. Their stories reflect the reality of black fathers in America, a role rarely portrayed and often stereotyped in the media.  

THE F WORD
Produced & directed by Nicole Opper & Kristan Cassady
The F-Word will chronicle the challenging and sometimes comedic journey of Nicole and Kristan, a queer Bay Area couple, into the foster care system to become fost-adopt parents.

A GOOD PLACE TO BE BLACK
Produced & directed by Angela Tucker
African Americans are returning to the South in one of the most notable migrations of the new century. But in this moment where churches are being burnt to the ground and crimes against black people are rising at a startling rate, This series looks at this new phenomena and asks the question, “where is a good place to be black?”

360 Incubator aims to amplify diverse voices in public media

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.

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Four projects aimed at African-American audiences win pilot funds at inaugural Pitch Black event

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.

The winners:

  • 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.

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