Filmmaker Shukree Tilghman Wraps up Last Days at Open Call Orientation

Posted on July 28, 2009

ITVS's Open Call orientation concluded last week. Shukree Tilghman, filmmaker of MORE THAN A MONTH, reflects on his experience meeting staff, attending workshops and gives an inside look at the process––something he believes filmmakers consider to be shrouded in secrecy. Get his take below.

I was asked to write a blog about my experiences at Open Call orientation, but I'm starting with day two. As in I'm late with this blog post… This delay should tell you something about me––and made me wonder why they asked a person with an irresistible penchant for being late to write a blog? Unless, of course, it was a blog about being late. This should tell you something about the anxiety inducing stress leveled by the orientation––or both. 

Let's start with the anxiety inducing stress part... On Wednesday, we had a day of individual meetings. Each filmmaker meets with their respective production manager and goes through the project budget, the content of the program, credits and packaging, and a few meet-and-greets with ITVS staff. Two words: soul crushing. I kid, I kid... Soul bruising is probably more appropriate. The day was actually extremely informative and though it was intense, it was rather painless. Our production manager, Cheryl Hirasa, was a great guide for us through the process. Finally meeting Programming Manager Kathryn Washington, an early advocate of our film, was also really cool. I should've brought her a gift. What a faux pas! Note to self; bring Kathryn a gift next trip to San Francisco.

ITVS ran us through the gauntlet of their staff and services in a series of workshops. From marketing and publicity to distribution to creating an online presence, we learned the ins and outs of all ITVS departments and how they can help our program. All very helpful, humanizing the impenetrable forcefield-protected bank for indie filmmakers known as ITVS. Amongst filmmakers, ITVS has a reputation of being shrouded in secrecy. I admit, I was expecting their building to have a moat surrounding it, complete with a drawbridge and a mean ogre demanding a password for entry. (p.s.- the password is "Nanook of the North"). 

Meeting all the staff behind the cloak of funding armor was really a breath of fresh air. They're all pretty sane and normal. (An ITVS staffer just laughed watching me write that sentence...) And really nice. (More laughter from behind me, as if to say 'just wait.') Most of all, everyone has been VERY supportive. It is good to be here amongst such professionals––both on the ITVS side and my fellow filmmakers. I am truly humbled. Day Three: It’s Friday and this is actually my last day. It's weird because it has certainly felt like longer than a three-day process. Maybe it's the words from ITVS’s Senior Programming Manager Richard Saiz, the sage of San Francisco, still ringing in my head. Or ITVS’s Director of Production Richard O'Connell's ridiculously extensive knowledge of documentary films still boggling my mind. Here are some closing thoughts:

  • ITVS: Dope. (slang for “good,” or “awesome” or “cool.” Akin to “fresh”)
  • SF Nightlife: Lots of bearded men and hipster women in darkened bars with champagne in a can. I dare not elaborate.
  • Connecting with some of the most talented filmmakers out there: Priceless.

-Shukree, filmmaker of MORE THAN A MONTH


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