The Indie Caucus is formally launching today, October 1st 2014, at the International Documentary Association's "Getting Real" conference in Los Angeles. A number of Indie Caucus members are attending the conference and will be present on panels that intend to discuss the pressing issues affecting public media. Follow that conversation on Twitter via #Docsgetreal or via the Dword.com (membership required).
Below is an introduction to what the Indie Caucus is, who we are, why we exist, and our beliefs and intentions. We invite all who might care to join in support of us, or to debate these issues with us, to add their name and a comment.
The Indie Caucus.
What is Indie Caucus?
Indie Caucus supports independent filmmakers who believe in public media.
Who we are
Indie Caucus is a national, independent group of filmmakers who believe in the public mission of public media. We have come together to strengthen our collective voice both within and outside of the public media system.
As a group we keep tabs on events related to indies and public media, and can quickly activate the national community when a crisis arises. We aim to be a voice that represents independent filmmakers to our broadcast, programming and funding partners in public media.
Members of the Indie Caucus are veteran producers who meet regularly, who can intervene behind the scenes, and who are pledged to activate their networks when a large outcry and action is needed.
Steven Bognar, Katy Chevigny, Johanna Hamilton, Tim Horsburgh, Byron Hurt, Brad Lichtenstein, Paco De Onis, Dawn Porter, Gordon Quinn, Julia Reichert, Bernardo Ruiz, Carlos Sandoval, Pamela Yates.
Why we exist
In late 2011, PBS moved the flagship documentary series, Independent Lens and POV, to a marginalized slot on the schedule. Ratings plunged. Independent filmmakers, organized initially by Kartemquin Films and then by an ad hoc group of indies nationally, rose up.
Within a few weeks over 1000 people had signed on to an open letter to PBS, which demanded a more worthy, respectful time slot. The group called itself “PBS NEEDS INDIES.”
Shortly thereafter it was announced by PBS that these two series would be moved to a much more auspicious time, Monday nights. It seemed victory was ours. The ad hoc group disbanded.
In the last two years, there have been new challenges in the world of public broadcasting. Too often, the filmmakers have found themselves struggling alone. At times, our institutional public media partners could have benefitted from allies. As a result, the founders of Indie Caucus have joined together to create a more permanent group, recognized and respected by PBS, ITVS and POV but independent of them.
Public media is "public", a commons, a trust. It is free to all. We believe it is part of our responsibility to make it an extension of democracy.
Diversity is essential to the functioning of public media in a democracy.
Engagement with audience is a hallmark of our work. We are passionate about storytelling and believe in its power to make a difference.
How Can I Join?
Indie Caucus doesn't have a membership; we mobilize as issues arise. We do have a small steering committee of filmmakers who know the public media system and are willing to work. As we build our constituency we will ask all filmmakers to join us in initiatives as they arise. We encourage filmmakers’ input in identifying high impact issues.
What are you working on now? What do you want to happen?
Scheduling in major markets, such as WETA in Washington, D.C. and WNET in New York, continues to be a concern.
Working with public media to assure diverse voices and innovative programming.
Reaching out to filmmakers throughout the country to expand the pool of talent working in public media.
Working with organizations representing diverse constituencies and public concerns to support public media's mission.
Acting as a resource for filmmakers such as when questions around ITVS contracting arise.
Monitoring to see when high impact issues arise and being prepared to spring into action.
How you can be involved
Sign up for updates and show your support by adding your name, organization and a comment at www.indiecaucus.org/supporters.
Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter: @indiecaucus / #indiecaucus