PBS Online Film Festival

PBS is known for many things, one of which is being a pioneer in Indie films.  To further our engagement with this dynamic community, PBS launched in 2012 the PBS Online Film Festival.  This film fest has been growing ever since.  I took the opportunity to interview Taryn Stewart who heads up this effort for PBS to give an overview of the fest and highlight how your station can engage with this film fest.

COVE Trailer image

  1. What is the PBS Online Film Festival & when is it happening?

The PBS Online Film Festival showcases powerful stories from filmmakers across the country, and reaches an engaged and digitally savvy audience. The 2016 PBS Online Film Festival will take place July 11 – July 29, 2016.

  1. Where do you get the films?  How are films selected for entry into the film fest?

The films are submitted for consideration by local stations who are interested in becoming a presenting partner and other public television producers.

  1. Once films are in the fest, how does the voting happen?

Our film festival audience can vote for their favorite films by using the “vote” button associated with each film on the website or for the first time ever, can use their Facebook or Twitter account to vote for their favorites by using the #PBSolff hashtag and the name of the film!Film Still.v2

  1. What’s your favorite part about organizing this film

My favorite part is the actual screening of all of the films.We work with so many talented filmmakers and I thoroughly enjoy their work.  The foundation of the film festival is all about the story telling and giving filmmakers a platform to tell unique and diverse stories so it all starts with actually sitting down and watching all of the submissions.

  1. What are creative ways stations have engaged their communities with the online film fest?

We are excited to see stations host local advance screening of the films in their communities and incorporate the film festival site into their own websites during the voting period.  Check out the screenshot below of WSRE’s Online Film Fest site from 2015.


  1. What assets are made available to stations to promote the festival?

We give stations a full suite of assets including the festival sizzle reel they can use on air or on their digital platforms, the actual site itself via bentomatic, press release templates before, during and after the film festival as well as posters, e-cards and a calendar that outlines when each individual film will be promoted.

Here’s a sneak peek of what’s to come:

  • There is a digital embargo on the sizzle/trailer until June 28, but if you want to put it on-air before then, the broadcast version (ProRes) is in the Source now. The press release will be sent around then along with a template for your use, as well as the interstitials.
  • In case you would like to share this with your filmmakers, here is the official selection laurel they can use on their sites and social media. Also, here’s the 2016 Online Film Festival logo. Our splash page for this year is up. Full site and trailer coming soon!
  1. What films should we not miss in this year’s festival?

I can honestly say that I don’t have a favorite this year!  We have so many amazing films that I would encourage everyone to watch all 25 so they don’t miss a thing!

Taryn Stewart | Senior Manager, Digital Programming | PBS
Lauren Cummings | Associate Director, Corporate Support, Station Relations | PBS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *