Creating Competitive Work Samples

July 2, 2015
4:00pm Pacific Time
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Hear from ITVS programming staff and funded producers about how to craft strong work samples that will make your project competitive for Open Call funding.

Video Descriptions

Best of Enemies / Vidal v. Buckley: Work In Progress clip - 10 min

The Ovarian Psycos - Work in Progress

T-Rex: Rough Cut - 10 min beginning clip

29min 36sec



  • Robert Gordon

    Grammy Award-winning writer and filmmaker Robert Gordon has focused on the American south — its music, art, and politics — to create an insider’s portrait of his home that is both nuanced and ribald. His first book, It Came From Memphis, careens through the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, riding shotgun with the weirdoes, winos, and midget wrestlers. In 2003, he wrote the definitive biography of blues great Muddy Waters, the award-winning Can’t Be Satisfied, and his Respect Yourself, about Stax Records, also received accolades. Gordon’s documentaries include Stranded in Canton, made with photographer William Eggleston, and the harrowing Very Extremely Dangerous about Jerry McGill, recording artist and outlaw. His first film, All Day & All Night, showed at MOMA’s New Directors/New Films in 1990. He was writer and a producer on the Memphis episode of Martin Scorsese’s The Blues. As a team, Gordon and Morgan Neville have made four previous films together: Muddy Waters Can’t Satisfied, Shakespeare Was a Big George Jones Fan, Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story, and Johnny Cash’s America.

  • Kate Trumbull-LaValle

    Kate Trumbull-LaValle is a Los Angeles-based independent documentary filmmaker who first began in the field of social justice media as an educator and program coordinator for the Media Arts Center San Diego and the San Diego Latino Film Festival. She directed the short documentary, Abaayo/Sister (2012), an intimate portrait of two Somali friends caught in a cultural tug-of-war. Kate is also associate producer, assistant editor, and archival researcher for Renee Tajima-Peña’s feature length PBS documentary, No More Babies for Life , which profiles the history of Mexican American women coercively sterilized at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center during the late 1960s and 1970s. In 2013, she formed Sylvia Frances Films with Joanna Sokolowski to direct her first feature documentary, The Ovarian Psycos. Trumbull-LaValle is a UC Berkeley Human Rights Fellow (2010) and graduated with an M.A. from the Social Documentation Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

  • Joanna Sokolowski

    Joanna Sokolowski is a Bay Area documentary filmmaker. She founded Sylvia Frances Films in 2013 with Kate Trumbull-LaValle to produce The Ovarian Psycos. Joanna is the associate producer for Very Semi Serious, an offbeat documentary about humor, art, and the genius of the New Yorker cartoon. She has worked as an associate producer at Walking Iris Media and Open Studio Productions. Her previous film Still Time (2012) chronicles life after serving 20 years in prison. She holds a BA in Community Development & Urban Planning and received her MA in Social Documentation at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she was the recipient of the Human Rights Center fellowship.

  • Sue Jaye Johnson

    I work in photography, film, interactive docs, writing, radio.... whatever it takes to tell the story. On deck is T-Rex, a feature documentary film about boxer Claressa "T-Rex" Shields. Just 17 years old, Claressa dreams of making Olympic history. In 2011, I spearheaded an unprecedented collaboration between The New York Times Magazine, NPR, WNYC, and Radio Diaries to tell the stories of the first women to box in the Olympics. The series included Teen Contender, Claressa Shields’ radio diary of her journey to the Olympic Trials, which won a Peabody Award. Along the way, I teamed up with Zack Canepari and Drea Cooper to produce T-Rex, which premieres at SXSW and HotDocs in 2015 and will air on PBS’s Independent Lens in 2016. I am a two-time Peabody Award winner and a recipient of a Creative Capital Artist Grant. My collaborations have been broadcast on PBS, NPR, WNYC, BBC, SABC and CBC and have garnered many awards including a Webby Award, a Columbia-duPont, and the Online News Association’s Award for most creative use of the medium. My early pioneering interactive documentaries (—Perspectives on the US Criminal Justice System and have been exhibited at the Smithsonian’s Design Triennial and are archived at the Library of Congress. Over the last decade, I've lived and worked off and on in South Africa where I co-founded Iliso Labantu, a collective of township-based photographers who train and earn a living through their documentation of contemporary urban life. I have taught at Harvard University and Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism and guest lecture widely on artistic process and professional development for artists. I live in NYC with my husband and two daughters.

  • Sue Jaye Johnson

    Sue Jaye Johnson is an award-winning journalist and producer who spearheaded an unprecedented collaboration between The New York Times, NPR and WNYC to tell the story of the first women to box in the Olympic games. Her series began with a six-page photo spread in the New York Times Magazine. She co-produced several radio stories for the series including Teen Contender, a feature radio documentary about Claressa Shields. Johnson and her co-producer Joe Richman of Radio Diaries gave Shields a microphone and recorder to document her journey to the Olympic Trials. Claressa’s diary aired on NPR’s All Things Considered in February 2012 to an audience of 12 million listeners and won the Peabody Award. Johnson was an early pioneer in interactive documentaries and has worked with public television and radio producers to create innovative web documentaries and outreach campaigns since 1997. She and her team won numerous awards for their collaborations including a Peabody Award and the Columbia-DuPont Award. She has taught visual storytelling at Harvard University and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

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The views and opinions expressed in this online screening are those of the presenters and participants, and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of ITVS, public broadcasting, or any entities hosting the screening.