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Old December 20th, 2010, 04:10 PM   #1
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Working with PBS

I am a journalist working for a small newspaper in western Montana, USA. Our paper is celebrating it's 100 year anniversary in 2011 and I have offered to produce a 30-minute to hour long documentary on the community and how the newspaper covered it over the last century. The documentary will appear on our website in August.

I contacted the local PBS station to explore options for collaboration and assistance as my production experience has thus far been limited to shorts (3-5 minutes) on our website. They agreed to a meeting on Jan. 4 with the program manager and a producer.

In preparation for the meeting I have drafted a preproduction outline posted below.

Any advice on working with PBS or what I can expect from this initial discussion would be appreciated. Also, what I should have prepared for the meeting.



Chronicle Centennial Film
Pre-production outline

For 100 years the Bozeman Daily Chronicle has served as an institution of quality journalism serving southwest Montana. From the Roaring 20s to World War II to the Yellowstone fires of 1988, the Chronicle has covered the day's events with honesty and integrity. The newspaper has functioned as a document of public record, a platform for debate and a voice of reason in good times and bad. It has told the stories of those who have lived in the Gallatin Valley and surrounding communities with compassion and objectivity.
In 2011, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle will celebrate its 100 year anniversary. To commemorate this historic event, the newspaper will produce a film documenting the history of the city and southwest Montana through a series of 10 vignettes that illustrate the character of the region through the people and events that have shaped it.

Concept: A 30 minute to 1 hour film documenting the history of Bozeman and the Chronicle over the past 100 years. The story will be told through 10 vignettes, one for each decade since the newspaper began publishing under its current name in December, 1911.
Each vignette will focus on a unique event in the city's history with an emphasis on that story and a lesser emphasis on how the newspaper covered or interpreted those events. Vignette subjects will be chosen to best represent southwest Montana and illustrate the character of the area.
Subjects might include: The Great Depression and the toll it took on the region's agricultural economy, World War II and its impact on Japanese and German residents, the Sweet Pea festival and parade, and others.
The aim of the film is to focus not only on major world events, but also on local issues and happenings that define the region.

Research: Vignettes chosen for the film will be researched in cooperation with the Gallatin Historical Society & Pioneer Museum, Montana State University and other state and local institutions.
Interviews will be conducted with persons of interest who have either firsthand experience with the subject matter, considerable expertise in the history of Bozeman and southwest Montana, or significant skill or knowledge relative to the story. Interview subjects may include local historians, residents, educators, politicians, public employees, artisans and others.

Visual evidence: Historic photographs, footage and documents will play an important role in the production of the film. Whenever possible, the production team will attempt to secure original copies or the highest quality reproductions available for use in the film. Visual evidence will be gathered from the Chronicle's archives, state and local historical institutions, the National Park Service and MontanaPBS. Other avenues to secure pertinent footage may also be pursued.
When possible, historic evidence may be reinforced with current footage shot on location in Bozeman and surrounding areas.

Production deadline: The film will be produced for an Internet audience with a release date on the Chronicle's website to coincide with a special Centennial publication in August 2011.

Production team: Executive producer for the film will be Ben Pierce. Production partners may include the Gallatin Historical Society & Pioneer Museum, Montana State University, MontanaPBS and other state and local institutions.
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Old December 21st, 2010, 07:36 AM   #2
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Couple of observations and questions;
1. Sounds like a good idea.
2. Your production experience is limited at best. It's a big jump from making shorts for your local paper to producing a one hour doc. Why should they trust you to lead this project?
3. Why just limit yourself to an internet release? If Montana PBS is involved they will want to broadcast the show also. Production costs are the same for internet or broadcast delivery. You're not just aiming a camera at someone now. You'll need lighting, sound guys, a great editor, broadcast cameras, a PBS producer, etc.
4. THE BIG ONE - MONEY! PBS doesn't pay for production. You have to bring your own funding and meet their technical standards. Even in a co-production someone has to come up with the money. Check out Producing for PBS | PBS for more info.
"The good thing about science is that it's true whether you believe it or not." Neil deGrasse Tyson

Last edited by Rick L. Allen; December 22nd, 2010 at 05:36 AM.
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Old December 21st, 2010, 11:07 AM   #3
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Also, is there any paper that doesn't think of itself as an institution of quality journalism?

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Old December 22nd, 2010, 02:33 PM   #4
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While it would be ideal to produce a show to PBS standards, it's worth noting that individual PBS stations likely have less rigourous standards that PBS and APT (American Public TV).

You have a meeting. That's a good first step.

If you can provide sponsors, that's even better. If the idea is good enough, they might be able to help solicit sponsors.
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Old January 18th, 2011, 09:43 AM   #5
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Here is another site on PBS requirements with PDF's you can download.

Red Book : PBS
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