June 1, 1996

Short Takes, April / May 1996

ITVS Announces Funding Changes

In the midst of a troubling era of defunding and downsizing, the Independent Television Service, which has funded numerous award-winning independent documentaries, has streamlined its approaches to funding and production.

Firstly, the "open call" process will no longer exist as it has in the past, with specific deadlines. ITVS will now welcome and review program ideas on an ongoing basis, without deadlines. ITVS has instituted new guidelines to simplify the application process for all requests.

Secondly, ITVS is teaming up with the four public television network regional distributors-Central Education Network, Eastern Educational Television Network, Pacific Mountain Network, and Southern Educational Communications Network-to create a fund for local co-productions between indies and their local public television stations. The fund is designed to encourage productions focused on local and regional views of issues often left out of the larger public dialogue.

For further information about the ITVS changes and new gui deli nes, contact: ITVS, 190 Fifth St. E., Ste. 200, St. Paul, MN 55101; phone (612) 225-9035, fax (612) 225-9102, e-mail itvs@maroon.tc.umn.edu.

New Aviation Channel Launched

The Air and Space Network, a new premium television network devoted entirely to aviation and space programming, will debut this spring, bringing viewers a varied roster of entertainment and informational programming. The broad-based service will include historical documentaries, biographies, feature films, air shows, special events, aerospace news, and more. Initially, the service's programming will come from independent producers, federal and state government archives, private foundations, and aviation associations. In the near future, ASN intends to add original programming on a variety of topics with wide viewer appeal.

The blueprint for ASN's programming lineup and overall philosophy was developed with the help of 14 expert advisors representing all aspects of aviation. Currently based in Portland, OR, ASN expects to launch on Direct Broadcast Service and analog C-band satellite tv, with cable, wireless, and traditional broadcast systems to be added as capacity becomes available. ASN management plans to establish headquarters i n San Diego, CA, with news, public affairs, and sales offices in the Washington, DC, area.

Docs Among Top '95 Grossers

According to Variety, six documentaries were among the films that grossed over $150,000 in the United States and Canada in 1995. Crumb (Sony Classics) and Unzipped (Miramax) performed respectably, each topping the $1 million mark in gross receipts. Wigstock: The Movie (Goldwyn) and A Great Day in Harlem (Castle Hill) followed with over $500,000 at the box office, and Latchodrom (Shadow/France Film) and Theremin: An Electronic Odissey (Orion) rounded out the list.