Today is just one day in the three and a half year journey that has been THE EYES OF ME. It’s a day that I haven’t given myself permission to spend too much time thinking about––just one day after its world premiere at South by Southwest (SXSW). THE EYES OF ME is a documentary that follows the lives of four blind teens in Austin, Texas. All four teens in the film had sight, but lost it during their teenage years. The film alternates between verité footage and dreamlike segments of rotoscopic animation in an effort to show the universal high school drama of teenage life while exploring questions of perception and identity.
The transformative animated segments were created in collaboration with animators Jason Archer and Paul Beck in consultation with the teens; they are their inner-visions of the outer world. Throughout SXSW, in panels and cocktail party conversations, much of the focus has been on building audiences and thinking of new models of distribution. Audience building is something that my producing partner Patrick Floyd and I have been really excited about. With a film like THE EYES OF ME, there is a fairly obvious and large niche audience––but the challenge is in connecting with them.
With all the talk of new models and hybrid distribution deals, I’ve come to believe that a national broadcast on PBS is still the number one way to connect on a large scale with an audience that should see this film. Last night is still a little hazy (especially the end of the night, which found us celebrating on a pontoon boat in Lake Austin at 3:00 AM, but that’s for a different blog). I can't begin to describe what it felt like to have the 250-seat theater sell out and turn away more than 150 people still waiting in line.
I thought I’d be thrilled to send so many folks away––a real mark of success. But in the moment, it was really quite sad. So many people wanted to attend the world premiere and they just couldn’t. I gave up my seat so that one extra person could see it and it felt great. Today has been an amazing day. Like I said, I never really allowed myself to think about what it would feel like to get to this moment. There were times when I thought it would never come. I’m sure the good folks at ITVS shared that concern from time to time too. But it’s certainly not the last great day that THE EYES OF ME will give back to me.
I don’t plan on sitting around thinking about it, but today for five minutes I did imagine a day sometime in the future, a day like today but a whole lot bigger––that would be the day when THE EYES OF ME airs on PBS. That will be the day when nobody will be turned away at the door. Wow. We’re going to need a bigger pontoon boat!
From our blog
December 11, 2018
It is with sadness that we say goodbye to filmmaker and educator Bill Siegel. Bill first became a part of the ITVS family with his award-winning film The Weather Underground, which he co-directed with Sam Green. It tells the story of former University of Chicago students who showed their outrage at the Vietnam War and racism in America by waging a low-level…
December 3, 2018
Last week the Sundance Institute announced the showcase of independent feature films selected for the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. We are thrilled to share that four of the selections drawn from a record-breaking 14,259 submissions are ITVS co-productions. It's a milestone moment for ITVS. The 2019 festival entries mark 100 ITVS co-productions…
National Issues, Local Impact: How Indie Lens Pop-Up, Filmmakers, and PBS Stations Gather CommunitiesOctober 17, 2018
Fueling films that spark conversations, and connecting with local audiences, is at the heart of our mission to bring impactful independent documentaries to public media. Indie Lens Pop-Up is the tool in which ITVS filmmakers, PBS member stations, and other local partners connect and engage with their communities. These events translate your film’s…