The Lab in partnership with the World channel

April 26, 2011

We have mentioned the WORLD channel before when listing the variety of outlets the Lab has for the videos you send to us. Formerly called PBS WORLD, it’s a multicast digital broadcast, sent over the airwaves for free, and bringing you your favorite PBS shows and independent documentaries on 53 television stations across the US. WORLD also has an incredibly interactive website, full of film content, special guest blogs and lots of ways to meet the the filmmakers and participate on special topics.

What we didn’t tell you is that we’re also in the same Boston, MA building! For the next few months, the Lab is going to work more closely with World and apply our Open Call method to help grow the World’s community of smart viewers, video contributors, comment makers, guest bloggers and discerning critics. Please visit and tell us what you want to see there, we welcome you to the conversations on the website, on Facebook and Twitter.

World organizes the content they bring you according to theme. Below, see what you have to look forward to in the next couple of months. Have a programming idea for us? Be sure to let the Lab and World know!

MAY: The Journey A trip is about crossing a border, whereas a journey expands the borders of our minds. Whether it be the extraordinary story of a group of people with disabilities rafting down the Colorado River or a traveling band of civil rights activists fighting against segregation, this theme brings together stories of journeys and the changes they evoke, in individuals as well as in societies.

JUNE: 9 to 5 For most people, work is necessary for survival, but it’s not the only reason why we spend so many of our waking hours on the job. In a Great Recession world, one in which the minority are increasingly tethered to work by devices and the majority continue to make less than $2 a day, how does the work we do shape who we are?

Starting in May, World will also play host to a special set of international documentaries, the Global Voices series, produced by the Independent Television Service. Here’s a preview of the topics we’ll tackle on air and online:


The Value of Viral

April 2, 2011

Chris Brogan shared this link on Twitter today:

Top 10 viral videos of March –

And it got us thinking about not just why on earth would this Skittles ad gets 1.5 million views:

..but it got us wondering about what kind of content people think is worth sharing. Sure, the “interactive” feature of a cat licking your finger is novel and so you share it. Plus, it’s short and silly, but it is 39 seconds you won’t get back!

Advertisers have nailed the viral video category for a long time by using cute kids, cute animal and silly antics. But what should public media content providers be thinking about so that you want to watch and share our stories?

Take a look at one of our new favorites: FutureStates. by ITVS. It opens the door for young filmmakers to share their work, and their visions of what the world could be like in 60, 70 or 80 years are thought provoking. The Lab has already shared some favorite episodes with friends on Facebook. (There is and embed option, but it doesn’t work with our WordPress site! You’ll have to visit them.) What do you think about visiting a destination website? Is it easy to share videos with friends? Would you rather embed it on your blog and give it your own context? Do you like the other features that make you think and ask you to contribute?

At the Lab, we think a lot about what videos people are making and watching, what videos they are sharing and how to help the public create their own. Of course we like to see good stories go “viral”, but maybe it’s not the only way to become a trusted source of good content. Tell us what you think, what you like or what public media content you have shared with friends in the comments below!

Filmmaker In Residence Monika Navarro’s documentary “Lost Souls (Animas Perdidas)” premieres on INDEPENDENT LENS

March 23, 2010

Filmmaker in Residence Alum Monika Navarro gets the opportunity to tell the story of the emotional journey of her uncle, a U.S. Military vet deported to Mexico, and uncovers the secrets of her family’s past in her new INDEPENDENT LENS documentary, “Lost Souls (Animas Perdidas)”.

In 1999, two brothers were deported from the US to Mexico. Within two weeks, one of the brothers overdosed on heroin in a seedy Tijuana hotel room, his body unclaimed for two months in a mass grave. “Animas Perdidas” explores the family drama that unfolds from the lives of these two men, both raised in the US and veterans of the US military, who were deported from the only country they knew and had sworn to protect. Interviewing family members, and weaving together family photographs, letters, and verité footage, Navarro’s film explores larger questions of national identity, immigration, and U.S. border tensions as her family confronts its dark but resilient past.

“Animas Perdidas”; (Lost Souls) is Monika Navarro’s debut documentary feature, funded in part by an Emerging Artist’s Grant from the City of Ventura Council for the Humanities. Animas Perdidas was selected to screen at the 2006 IFP Market as a Work-in-Progress in the Spotlight on Documentaties. Monika is a first-generation Mexican-American and was raised in Ventura, California. She has lived and traveled in Mexico, and served as a youth delegate in 2000 with the Chiapas Media Project. Monika received her BFA in Studio Art from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Tufts University in 2003, and currently lives in Massachusetts.

Congratulations to Monika!  We hope you will all tune in and watch her masterpiece.

To find out when “Lost Souls” is airing near you, please check PBS Schedule.  “Lost Souls (Animas Perdidas)” is a co-production of ITVS in association with WGBH-Boston and LPB.

Lost Souls can be purchased at Shop PBS: Lost Souls
Lost Souls (Educational) can be purchased at Shop PBS: Lost Souls

At Home in Utopia – Screenings This Weekend

July 1, 2008

At Home in Utopia – Screenings This Weekend

At Home in Utopia, a story about hard-working Americans trying their best to work together to make a better future, will be screening Thur. July 3rd @ 6:30 PM and Sun. July 6th @ 2:15 PM at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Each screening will be attended by the filmmakers (Michal Goldman and Ellen Brodsky) and Thursday’s showing will feature special guest Jeff Crosby, President, IUE-CWA Local 201. Lively discussions follow the screenings!

For more information, visit the WGBH Lab page for At Home in Utopia.

Coming out of the hole……

June 2, 2008

Coming out of the hole……

Well, I’ve finally done it. Sorry folks for disappearing on you. I have had one crazy month of deadlines and more deadlines. We’ve had some great trips and meetings for our project and a few heart attacks along the way. But that’s the life of a filmmaker right?! It’s one big rollercoaster ride and you just hope your buckle doesn’t break.

There were a number of large deadlines this month and we pretty much attacked them all. The biggest one was for ITVS LINCS, an opportunity to partner with PBS stations for funding to complete your film. Through this initiative, ITVS will consider providing funds for your film in return for licensing your film. As you know, $$$$ is the key to finishing your film. And so with an opportunity like that, you have to cross your fingers and hope it will move forward.

We were fortunate that for the first time ever, Maine Public Broadcasting Network (MPBN) agreed to partner with us. And shortly after, WGBH also agreed to partner with us to apply for LINCS. What that meant was that for the first time ever, two PBS stations would be applying with an independent producer on a LINCS application. We were excited about this possibility knowing that this partnership could help us get The Way We Get By out to the largest possible television audience.

We began working on this application a few months ago. We had worked hard on our work sample (20 minutes of scene selections that we showed to about 50 people). Our confidence grew after each viewing. We felt so great knowing that people were connecting with our characters and seeing the story come together.

But another part of any film application is the synopsis and treatment. And that was something we had to really work hard to figure out. Writing these components are extremely difficult. We started about a month ago on a draft treatment. We thought we were writing it as a story but really it just seemed like a long, overwritten proposal. After spending weeks on it, we decided to show it to some of our contacts at WGBH. That was about when we realized we knew NOTHING about grantwriting for films.

Writing a film treatment is like telling a funder about your story…bringing them in with a captivating soundbite, telling them about the characters, and showing them the story arc of the film…the more a treatment reads like a story, apparently, the stronger it is. For YEARS, I never did this…and thanks to one grantwriter–Paul Taylor–at WGBH, we learned the basic tools to write for a film funder. What I wonder though is without someone like Paul, how do you do this? I would like to think we are reasonably smart. I’ve written successful proposals OUTSIDE of the film world before so….where is the gap?

Paul taught us something that I think is important for filmmakers to follow. Your treatment should be like editing a film. But instead of shot by shot use your wide, medium, tight story elements together. I don’t know if I can ever do what I learned justice by trying to explain it. Perhaps what I can say is find yourself someone who does write grant proposals successfully and see what they think BEFORE you submit. It could mean the difference between getting funding and getting that rejection letter.

After a number of sleepless nights, stressful sessions at the laptop, Aron and I were able to successfully submit to ITVS. For the first time, in a long time, we felt like the synopsis and treatment really matched the story we wanted to tell. And for the first time, we could see our film on paper….and it felt GREAT to know we have come this far. We still have a lot to do in coming months but it is such a wonderful feeling to know that we are moving forward and getting one step closer to accomplishing our goal!

Good luck fellow grantwriters. The process is a ^(&)())__(@%^&&$&$$ and a %^*&)*))(!^&#&%$& but hopefully it will PAY OFF in the end.