ITVS’s Open Call provides finishing funds for single non-fiction or animation public television programs on any subject and from any viewpoint. This week, ITVS hosted 17 filmmakers who were recently awarded Open Call funding. Ravi Patel, writer, director, and subject of the film One in a Billion, shares his thoughts about his first several days at ITVS.
It's day three of my first relationship with ITVS. My best exposure to the doc world prior to ITVS was somewhat vicarious –– I live with my sister in Los Angeles, and her last film Project Kashmir was also with ITVS. And now, for the first time, here I am. Making a doc. Working with ITVS. Blogging. In retrospect, just days ago, I was nothing.
Flashback To Day One: So excited!! It’s 9:00 AM and time for a group breakfast. Tired, I chose coffee, orange juice, and a banana… And half a bagel. And some grapes… I looked around –– Whoa. What is this? My sister and I are making what I guess you would call a romantic comedy documentary. It's called One in a Billion and we follow my love life... and my relationship with my family. Yes, odd, weird, crazy... But here's my point: there is no typical ITVS film, no set agenda, no studio jumping down your throat about what's going to make it big at the box office. ITVS is about telling important and great stories, and using any creative measure to do it.
What stands out to me are the people who work in this place. I mean, they seem genuinely happy to be here. What is going on? It's like my birthday or something. We walk around and everyone has seen our film, has thoughts on it, wants to discuss how we are going to package it, distribute it... This is amazing. I have had to subject my friends to these kinds of conversations, but the people here at the country of ITVS are actually interested. The rest of the day was pretty intense, as we went through budget, contracts, media, etc. I really loved learning about the history of public television, something I had no idea about. Coffee coupled with first-day-of-school jitters had me at dangerously high energy levels. An hour later, I crashed. Images blurring. Regret coupled with desperate gulps of water. Too much water. Constant bathroom breaks. Day one was awesome.
That night we got an opportunity to see trailers and short presentations of all the filmmakers' projects. That's when it hit me: I am SO lucky. I am surrounded by some of the hottest filmmakers in the world. The filmmakers surrounding me were inspiring beyond words, real ballers. And the content they were producing ranged in topic from global health to soul food to graphic novels in the Middle East to revolutionary leaders. What an incredible slate of films! The ITVS team and the filmmakers are such kind, interesting, passionate people. Thanks ITVS! Thank you so much. Quick question: How did I get in here?
ITVS Orientation Day Two: I'm tired. Day one was long one, and coffee/sugar overdose –– or as I call it, the "energy crisis" –– ruined my day. They make us get to "class" at 9:00 AM, and then we don't get done until the evening. I'd say this is like college, but I had attendance issues during college, so instead, I'll say it's more like other's people's college. I'm thinking a liberal arts school (smaller classes, mandatory attendance). Anyway, that's not my point. My point is: this is a very different experience from my day-to-day life; a lot of new people and information in little time. Exhaustion. But when it's done, it feels AMAZING. To that extent, it's like yoga. Yoga at Swarthmore.
Today, we spent more of the day meeting the ITVS team, many of the other filmmakers, and our wonderful Production Manager Allison Davis. After seeing the broad range of services and networks we gain through ITVS, I can no longer imagine a world without them. Being a bit of a media nerd, I am VERY excited of all the social/new media initiatives.
-Ravi Patel Writer, director, and subject of One in a Billion
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