Update on ITVS Series and Special Project funding.

As of March 20, 2014, ITVS no longer accepts unsolicited materials, including proposal submissions or project inquiries for Series and Special Projects (SSP) funding.

ITVS provides production funding primarily through the Open Call initiative. However, ITVS commissions a limited number of projects through its Series and Special Projects (SSP) fund in order to respond to timely opportunities. We do not accept unsolicited proposals for SSP funding.

Frequently Asked Questions about ITVS’s SSP funding

Why does ITVS have the Series and Special Projects (SSP) discretionary fund?
The ITVS Series and Special Projects (SSP) fund is a discretionary fund that is designed to support independent documentary filmmakers to create programs tied to our mission to bring quality, underrepresented and consequential stories to the national PBS schedule and support diverse producers in public media.

We believe it is critical to support independent filmmakers at both R&D and Production phases in a timely and responsive manner. Therefore, like many foundations and public funds, ITVS has historically reserved a small portion of our production licensing funds for discretionary purposes, allowing us to be nimble in our funding when necessary. SSP projects often innovate; respond to timely opportunities; and support strategic priorities in any given year (i.e. national series distribution and thematic campaigns).

What stages of development and production does the fund support?
SSP R&D funding supports activities including travel, research, script development, preliminary production for fundraising/work-in-progress reels, or other early-phase activities. In many cases, the goal of the The SSP R&D fund is to help producers to create competitive materials for their application to our standing Open Call initiative.

SSP Production funding supports one-offs and limited documentary series in production and post-production. To serve our SSP goal of bringing more diverse producers and content to the national PBS schedule, we require filmmakers and producers who receive SSP Production funding to have a committed national broadcast on PBS as a one-off or through a PBS series. PBS must approve broadcast of the program.

Like all ITVS production funding, SSP funding is not a grant. Producers receive funding in the form of a program development agreement or production agreement that will grant ITVS certain rights in the project during the term of the contract (including holdbacks and revenue sharing).

What projects has ITVS supported through the discretionary fund recently?
A sampling of programs that have received recent SSP funding includes:

  • I Am Not Your Negro by Raoul Peck (for Independent Lens)
  • Memories of a Penitent Heart by Cecilia Aldarondo (for POV)
  • Words From A Bear: The Enigmatic Life of N. Scott Momaday by Jeffrey Palmer (for American Masters)
  • Abacus by Steve James (for FRONTLINE)
  • Newtown by Kim A. Snyder (for Independent Lens)
  • Tough Love by Stephanie Wang-Breal (for POV)
  • Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart: Lorraine Hansberry by Tracy Strain and Randall MacLowry (for American Masters)
  • TRAPPED by Dawn Porter (for Independent Lens)
  • Point and Shoot by Marshall Curry (for POV)
  • Maya Angelou: The People’s Poet by Rita Coburn Whack & Bob Hercules (for American Masters)
  • Tower by Keith Maitland (for Independent Lens)
  • American Promise by Michele Stephenson & Joe Brewster (for POV)
  • A Photographer's Journey by Raymond Telles (for American Masters)

What is the process for selecting SSP projects?
We use a commissioning process to select programs for SSP funding. An internal senior content team vets projects, with final approval by ITVS’s CEO and CFO. We do not accept unsolicited proposals for SSP funding.

Can a filmmaker/applicant be funded through the discretionary fund and still apply to one of the standing initiatives?
ITVS maintains a policy that filmmakers can have only one project funded at a time, so filmmakers with SSP funding are not eligible to apply to any other ITVS funding initiative until they close out their SSP funding contract.