ITVS Overview

ITVS Website

So if we can learn anything from the ITVS mission, its that the organization is quite interested in topics that are frequently talked about but never covered. It's also interested in topics that aren't talked about, but probably should be. That said, ITVS has a much more narrow focus than, say, PBS. Perhaps this is appropriate, given the smaller amount of funds they have to distribute than the larger, all-encompassing funders. ITVS has about 7 million dollars per year to disburse. Not a small amount to say the least, but this makes it picky about who it gives the money to.

Open Call! ITVS has a program called Open Call, which accepts single episode films for funding. However, only 3 to 5% of applicants are given funding. Don't be deterred by this-- this is a little bit lower than the average percentage of successful applicants at any non-profit agency, but still attainable. And your film is the best idea ever, right?

A requirement for Open Call is previous production experience, in a primary production role. This does not include PA (production assistant). In addition to this, it helps to have a tape of work-in progress. Think of this as a representation of your desire to make the film. You want to make it so badly, you'll do it without money! On the upside, ITVS is capable of funding an entire production. The grants awarded range from $40,000 to $350,000. Focus is important, however, as you get only one year from a grant award until you must complete the project.

Make your idea unique! Overall, ITVS could be a producer's dream come true-- if, of course, that producer's got a terrific idea and is already taking measures to make it a reality. If you've got the idea, and you're able to put it into the formal proposal package discussed in the PBS process, you've got a great shot. The downsides of ITVS is that the organization is not able to give money to many people, and its really focused on original, new ideas. If you're doing a biography of a famous person, a conventional historical documentary, or the like, you'll probably want to look elsewhere.

The last funder we'll look at is caught somewhere in the middle of PBS and ITVS. While reaching out toward new ideas, its still grounded in the interests of general education.

Which might, actually, be just the place you're looking for.

The National Endowment for the Humanities