Kartemquin Films is beginning work to form a permanent advocacy group to serve as a liaison between independent filmmakers and PBS, in the wake of the controversy surrounding PBS's rescheduling of Independent Lens and P.O.V. and their subsequent ratings and carriage woes (Current, March 12, 2012). Gordon Quinn, artistic director and founder of the Chicago documentary production house, said he is in conversations to partner with the International Documentary Association on the effort.
Public television "is not just another outlet for independent producers," Quinn told Current. "The public aspect of it is of vital importance to us."
Following Current's story, Kartemquin posted on its website an open letter to PBS expressing concern over its shift of the two programs from their longtime home on Tuesdays to Thursdays, which many stations program with local shows. Hundreds of filmmakers signed and the controversy was covered widely, from the New York Times to multiple documentary-oriented websites. PBS agreed to find a different timeslot for the shows, and its negotiations continue with reps from ITVS, home to Independent Lens, as well as P.O.V.
Quinn said he and documentarian Carlos Sandoval are approaching 10 to 20 filmmakers to serve on a coordinating committee. "Ultimately I'd like to see us become part of the dialogue with PBS about the future of the whole system," he said, "sitting down and talking with them about larger issues," perhaps several times a year.
Michael Lumpkin, executive director of IDA, said the group is "very interested" in working with Quinn on the idea.