ITVS Knowledge Sharing Seminar: “Horticulture Tools as Metaphor”

I have a few things in common with Ellen Schneider. We’re both stubborn Aries, we tend to use a lot of hand gestures when we talk, and we’ve both worked at Active Voice and ITVS. So it was fun to bring Ellen​ in ​to present Horticulture, Active Voice Lab’s metaphor that provides common language for understanding the impact and engagement potential of different types of films. Like the garden tools in Horticulture, ​ITVS-funded films ​represent a range of story types that can contribute to social impact in a range of ways. So while our core funding is geared toward supporting films by and about underrepresented communities, our filmmakers’ approach to the storytelling influences how those films can make a difference in the world.

From Rakes to Trowels, Trellises to Wheelbarrows, even the rare Shovel and the outcast Sledgehammer, the extraordinary supply of issue-driven media requires common language for creative funders and partners to share. Why did this resonate at ITVS?

For starters, it was a great opportunity to recognize the range of story types we’ve funded and co-produced over the last 25 years. But it also provided our entire team with a framework for how to talk to filmmakers as they consider their own goals for impact and engagement.

In looking at some of our favorites from the ITVS library, ​Ellen and I agree that The Invisible War (​Independent Lens​, 2013) is a Shovel, but we had to compromise when we pronounced American Promise (POV, 2014) a Rake/Wheelbarrow hybrid. Maybe we’re not so stubborn after all.

Shaady Salehi is the Managing Director of Distribution & ​Impact at ITVS.