TITLE: President and CEO
FUNDING AREAS: Cable and public television programming; new media
CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)
IP TAKE: Fifer is huge on diversity and women's issues, so projects featuring one, the other, or both are sure to catch Fifer's attention.
PROFILE: Sally Jo Fifer is President and CEO of Independent Television Service (ITVS), the leading provider of independently produced programs for the PBS network. ITVS helps fund, present, and promote award-winning documentaries and dramas on cable and public television stations, as well as "innovative new media projects on the web, and the Emmy Award-winning weekly series Independent Lens."
The ITVS core vision is to support a "dynamic field of independent media makers whose programs creatively engage audiences, expand cultural awareness and catalyze civic participation." The organization strives to embrace "technical innovation to advance the production and distribution of independent media worldwide." They consider these values to be essential to a civil society and work hard to present the views of underrepresented communities and "reflect the interests and concerns of a diverse society."
Fifer oversees ITVS’s core operations, which include funding, production management, distribution, promotion, and outreach services. She also acts as Executive Producer for Independent Lens. Prior to taking her role at ITVS, Fifer worked for nine years as the Executive Director of Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC), an independent media organization that has a goal of inspiring social change by "empowering media makers to develop and share diverse stories through art, education and technology."
Fifer is also co-editor, along with with Doug Hall, of Illuminating Video, a widely referenced textbook on video art. She's been the recipient of fellowships for executive training from both Stanford and Harvard Business Schools and she received her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and her M.A. from Stanford University.
ITVS operates differently than a traditional foundation, providing not only funding for filmmakers but also robust services across production management, distribution, marketing and publicity, and community engagement to help indies reach audiences on every platform. The standing funding initiatives of ITVS include The Diversity Development Fund, an initiative that provides up to $15,000 in funding from projects that have not yet entered into the production phase; and the twice yearly Open Call, which receives nearly 1,000 submissions a year. Of those proposals, ITVS funds only about two percent, so, as always, review successful projects to see if your film might align with its mission. "The heart and soul of what we do is help independent filmmakers bring forward authentic ground truths and put a human face on the problems we are all trying to grasp," Fifer said. "We strive to support producers in their work and to help them inspire people to connect and to act in the public interest."