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.