May 27, 2010

Independent Filmmaking Meets... You

Margot Merrill's picture
Margot Merrill
Director, Content & Brand Strategy
1 comments

We can work some miracles through design, but ultimately it's our client's content which carries a giant part of the emotional impact of an experience. Because they have such amazingly rich content, and because they had such a deep commitment to getting it right, ITVS's new site really delivers. One of my favorite things about working for a design firm is that I get to immerse myself in a different company's business and culture every few months. Whatever the project, I end up falling in love with the people I'm working with, and getting deeply invested in helping solve their problems.

A recent website redesign project, and the organization behind it, really made an impression on me. To be honest, I hadn't heard of the Independent Television Service (ITVS) before we started talking with them. The acronym they use as their moniker, and their previous website, did little to communicate what they do, and the immense value I think they're bringing to all of us.

What Do They Do?

ITVS funds, and assists with the production of, amazing documentaries and stories from filmmakers who take creative risks, tackle complex issues, and express points of view seldom explored in the mass media. These films are shown on public television stations and in other public arenas. Why is that such a big deal? Because you could imagine how bland, and how one-sided, our programming would be if everything was produced by those with the means to fund a film. And for all of us—even those who don't have high-priced cable, or easy access to independent theaters which might show such films—ITVS is bringing quality programming with these diverse points of view right into our living rooms.

The Creative Process

A core group of ITVS stakeholders met with us for weekly work sessions. We exhausted about 20 dry erase pens, their white board, and our lead User Experience designer Tanya. What ITVS wanted was totally unique. They needed to serve the needs of  many different audiences (try dissecting "the general viewing public" and adding in "educators" and "broadcasters") and they wanted to push the boundaries of technology to create a platform that would serve them well for years. Even deep into the Design phase, we were sketching and re-sketching concepts for pages such as the Watch Video section. The visual design, which Senior Visual Designer Brian spearheaded, needed to balance showcasing the content of the films while re-introducing the ITVS brand to the world.

ITVS.org Before and After
ITVS.org Before and After

Why I Cried

Content, content, content! We can work some miracles through design, but ultimately it's our client's content which carries a giant part of the emotional impact of an experience. Because they have such amazingly rich content, and because they had such a deep commitment to getting it right, ITVS's new site really delivers. When the site launched (after tons of hard work from ITVS and CarbonFive, who implemented it), I was so impressed.

I watched a trailer for the Horse Boy and cried at my desk. I don't know if it was just because I'm a total sap, or because of the autistic boy, or the horsies, or the fact that I was able to learn more about the film and process behind it—but I'd been affected by my viewing experience.

And that, I'd say, made it a job well done. I'm not crying anymore, I'm gonna go have a drink to celebrate! Hope you enjoy the site, and catch more ITVS-funded productions in the near future!

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1 comments

Sam McMillan's picture

Margot: After you put your drink down, you might want to volunteer at Giant Steps -- a therapeutic horseback riding camp near Novato. http://www.giantstepsriding.org/how-to-help/volunteer/
It's something I do on the weekends, and as anyone who has ever volunteered knows, you'll get as much out of it as the kids you are helping. Its a pretty amazing place and a lot close than Mongolia.
--Sam

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