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Indies Talking, Public TV Listening

Media That Matters 2015When indie filmmakers talk to public TV officials on Feb. 19 at the Media That Matters conference, they’ll be bringing up longstanding issues for public broadcasting: diversity and representation.

The free, public hearing on Feb. 19 will showcase the voices not only of filmmakers like Black Public Media’s Jacquie Jones and renowned cinematographer Gary Griffin, but also legislators such as Cong. Donna Edwards, and representatives of communities and constituencies that benefit from indie perspectives on public broadcasting. They include members of nonprofits such as the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates, and funders such as Joy Thomas Moore of the Annie E. Casey FoundationRead more...

Fair Use Success Stories: Going Clear

Alex GibneyAlex Gibney’s Sundance hit Going Clear takes on Scientology, revealing surveillance, abuse, and using confessionally-obtained information to threaten members who might be considering leaving the fold. It translates Lawrence Wright’s book, Going Clear into televisual form, is slated for HBO, and...it couldn’t have been made without fair use.

Gibney said, elaborating on an interview with John Horn, that fair use was the key to overcoming Scientology’s pull on the major networks, whose news and public affairs footage, as well as film clips, were essential to telling the story visually. Read more...

Fair Use Successes in Documentary Film: The Most Dangerous Man in America

The Most Dangerous Man in AmericaWhat difference does employing fair use make to a film?

Sometimes it means the difference between making a film and not making it.

Take “The Most Dangerous Man in America,” the Academy Award-nominated film about whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. “Knowing how to employ fair use meant that we could finish the film,” said producer/director Judith Ehrlich. Read more...

More Fun with the Public Domain

A Trip to the MoonIn a mostly-copyrighted world, it’s really hard for media makers to find work that’s genuinely public domain (uncopyrighted), but a new project is making it easy.

The collaborative online video marketplace Pond5 (you can upload your own footage to it and sell it there) is launching a library of public domain content that includes 10,000 video clips, 65,000 photos, thousands of sound recordings, and hundreds of 3D models. Read more...

6 Reasons Why Indie Filmmakers Still Care If They’re on TV

POV DocsDoes anyone still need broadcast TV to reach an audience? I mean, hello, YouTube, and hey there, Amazon Prime.

That’s the question that hit independent documentary filmmakers across the country in late December, when it looked like the two public TV series that carry indie docs—Independent Lens and POV—might get moved to the programming equivalent of Siberia. A 1,200 signature petition changed WNET and PBS’s minds for the moment, and prompted a nation-wide listening tour. The first event on the tour, in San Francisco, packed a room with more than 200 people, speaking about how indie film on public TV makes a difference to soldiers, moms, vets, immigrants, young people and more.

But in a cord-cutting world, why are indie filmmakers so passionate about public TV? Read more...