Tomorrow at SXSW, Independent Television Service (ITVS)
will announce the launch of Digital Open Call, a new funding initiative for independent film and
media makers designed to develop and pilot independently-produced web series
for production funding and distribution on public media’s digital platforms and
Proposals submitted may include web series in any genre, nonfiction or
fiction, episodic or anthology in structure, and may even incorporate
interactive or immersive elements, such as those found in the final season of
the ITVS series FUTURESTATES distributed last
“We have worked with
indie film and media makers to develop and co-produce numerous web series,” said Karim Ahmad, Senior Digital Content Strategist at ITVS. “And now the
digital space has become the critical place to engage younger viewers and
viewers of color. ITVS, as stewards of diversity in public media, want to do so
much more. We want to support makers of digital series who will invite those
voices into the public discourse around current social issues with
envelope-pushing, innovative, genre-bending stories designed specifically for
online and mobile audiences.”
Ahmad will participate in tomorrow’s SXSW panel, “Who’s Going To Fund Your Web Series.”
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“The panel is about how to get your web series funded, but that’s really going to be a jumping off point to talk about the whole mechanism of funding, building a community and content creation,” Ahmad told Indiewire.
As for Digital Open Call, Ahmad said, “It’s the next step in the way we approach digital content…Now that there’s so much more independent creation of genre-bending web series, it’s a great time for us to go to creators and open a channel and a pipeline for creators to come to us.”
He said ITVS is looking for a diversity of voices and genres. Though the projects’ focus doesn’t have to be interactive or immersive, Ahmad said ITVS is interesting in pushing the boundaries of the web series. “Innovation is a large part of what we try to do at ITVS,” he said.
To be clear, he said they are not looking for one-off shorts, half-hour or hour episodes. When applying for funding, keep in mind that they’re looking for “strong storytelling that pushes the boundaries of the form.”
Funded applicants will contract with ITVS to receive $10,000 to $50,000 in R&D funding to develop and pilot their web series over the course of a six-month term. Series pilots will then be considered for production funding, with an eye toward distribution on public media’s digital channels, such as PBS.org, Independent Lens platforms, PBS-related YouTube channels and other digital partnerships currently in development.
The deadline to apply for Digital Open Call is July 1, 2015. More information about how to apply, and what ITVS is looking for, can be found at itvs.org/funding.