ITVS Summer Summit: That Was Then, This Is Now

Posted on August 23, 2021
ITVS Summit 2021 graphic with sky blue background

Striving to continue to be a leader in the public media space, we’re convening a new series of conversations for funded filmmakers—as ITVS President & CEO Sally Jo Fifer calls them, the lifeblood of our organization. On August 24 and 25, ITVS gathers virtually for the 2021 Independents Summit as an opportunity to talk about what is changing in the industry, and about what public media makers have gone through—and what ITVS has learned—this past tumultuous year. 

That includes gleanings from our year of virtual engagement, a review of new tools at our disposal, a look at how audiences are consuming media differently, and demonstrating to filmmakers how ITVS aims to give them the tools they'll need to roll with the times we're in.  All of this stems from a running theme we heard repeatedly echoed back this past year as we worked together: That was then, this is now.

Among the highlights from 2021's Independents Summit:

  • Sylvia Bugg, PBS's new Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, will talk about her vision for capturing the hearts and minds of new audiences while meeting PBS’s mission to empower the public through diverse storytellersSylvia Bugg, of PBS

    Sylvia Bugg, PBS
  • Industry experts will present on how the pandemic has accelerated shifting consumption patterns among TV viewers.

  • Leaders from Sundance Documentary Fund, Ford Foundation, Catalyst, and IDA will pass along their insights on how funders evaluate the concept of “value” when considering projects, as well as how filmmakers can best communicate their project's merit.

  • A look back at the evolution of the ITVS-produced, Independent Lens series Philly D.A. from feature doc idea to a hit 8-part primetime docuseries on PBS.

  • ITVS and filmmakers will share key findings and strategies about virtual offerings and engagement tools deployed in the past year. This includes a look back at our Belly of the Beast events, as ITVS led the way during the pandemic with engagement tools like DocScale and our OVEE screening platform.

  • We ask: What should artists consider when approaching their practice, cohort, business, community and value(s)? To help us speak to this, we'll chat with producer/director Peter Nicks (The Waiting Room, The Force, Homeroom) on his decade-long Oakland-based filmmaking practice working in public and commercial media.

  • And we will grapple with the urgent questions challenging the field: How has funding changed? What is the future of ethical storytelling and accountability in documentary filmmaking?

As Sally Jo Fifer wrote to attendees: 

"One final truth that remains a constant, then and now: we don’t have a secret answer key for the questions we face. During the Summit, we strive to understand where everyone is coming from, learn from each other, and figure out together how to best make your stories, individually and collectively, matter. The public is counting on us."

READ: Our extensive Independents Summit wrap-up for a look back at some of the key moments and takeaways. 


From our blog

  1. Independent Lens Raises Awareness of Harms Caused by Kentucky's Persistent Felony Offender Law

    June 30, 2022

    Independent Lens and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Louisville Courier Journal (LCJ) raised awareness of Kentucky's Persistent Felony Offender (PFO) through a collaboration between independent filmmakers and journalists. The investigative series drew a link between the law's enhanced sentencing terms to the state’s high and growing prison

  2. Independent Lens Releases Stories for Justice Impact Report

    June 1, 2022

    Documentary storytelling increased understanding about the inequities in the U.S. justice system.

  3. The Supervising Producer Partnership: How CJ Hunt Found the Arc for "Neutral Ground" While Working with ITVS

    April 12, 2022

    How do filmmakers and ITVS supervising producers work together in their back-and-forth partnership?To best explain CJ Hunt's partnership with ITVS, we wanted to have him in the same room with three-time Emmy-nominated ITVS Supervising Producer Shana Swanson to explore what it meant to work together as funder and maker. Hunt made his feature film debut