The SPI Files: Dennis Palmieri, ITVS

by Amy Baroch, Station Products & Innovation

Last week in our special "new members of the SAC" SPI Files series, we caught up with WSKG's Teresa Peltier. This week we are talking to our new producer liaison, Dennis Palmieri from ITVS.

Who are you and what do you do at ITVS?
I'm Dennis Palmieri, and I'm Managing Director of Communications and Media Strategy at ITVS. In that capacity, I lead a dynamic Communications Department of 13 talented people who work across three units (Publicity & Marketing, Engagement & Education, and Interactive). Together, we work to promote the Emmy Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens and other PTV programming produced by ITVS (including the WORLD series Global Voices), we lead the largest and most successful engagement program anywhere in television--Community Cinema, which brings community screenings to more than 100 cities and towns each month, and our online and social media efforts include 5 in-depth websites, and an lead role in innovating new digital platforms for public media.

How long have you been at ITVS?
I have been at ITVS for 7 years (wow!, time flies!!)

Before ITVS, what did you do?
Prior to coming to ITVS, I worked in communications and advocacy for other large non-profit organizations, including serving as Director of Communications for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (the nation's largest provider of college scholarships to Latino students) and spent 6 years working for Amnesty International, the world's largest human rights organization, as a legislative advocate and organizer, public relations officer, and later as Deputy Director for the Western U.S.

If you didn't work in public media, what would you be doing?
Probably either working in advocacy for human and civil rights issues, or one day pursuing my dream of having an organic foods business!

Explain ITVS in Twitter-style, 140 characters or less.
ITVS is the largest public funder of indie docs, produces the PBS series Independent Lens, and leads in engagement and digital innovation.

We are excited about the upcoming season of Independent Lens and the Community Cinema program. What can you tell us about it?
We have a really incredible line-up this year. For openers, we are just about to dive into Black History Month with 3 fantastic films (More Than a Month, Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock (see a clip below), and The Black Power Mix Tape) which are all being broadcast this month. The first two of these films are both part of this year's Community Cinema slate (we had screenings throughout January and there are more this month). This powerful line-up is preceded by the 5-part Have You Heard from Johannesburg, the definitive documentary on the history of the Anti-Apartheid movement.

Watch A Civil Rights Hero Who Put Her Life on the Line on PBS. See more from Independent Lens.

Later in the season, we'll be offering three films in particular that will get people talking: Hell and Back Again (nominated for a Best Doc Oscar this year) is an incredible story of a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and includes some of the most riveting war footage I've ever seen from Director Danfung Dennis; Revenge of the Electric Car will have everyone lining up to get their Tesla on order (both HABA and CAR are Community Cinema Films for April and May); and Being Elmo may be the run-away hit of the season, giving audiences a chance to meet the man behind the Muppet!

ITVS does such a great job of reaching out to the community and engaging audiences. We love the Google map of Community Cinema locations across the U.S. What are some ways that local stations have been participating and are there ways that other stations can get involved?
Community Cinema is currently active in more than 100 markets each month, offering free community screenings with panel discussions, experts, performance, and other engagement activities for live audiences. Dozens of stations participate in the program, alongside wonderful community-based organizations and other partners.

Now in its sixth year, Community Cinema is also supported by the National Center for Media Engagement (NCME) who holds monthly webinars on creative ways for stations to maximize the local impact of the program. One of the best things about Cinema is how flexible and customizable it is. Beyond screening the film programmed for a given month, the sky is the limit for stations and their partners to creatively plan accompanying engagement activities...some of my favorites have included: poetry slams for deaf artists, live performances by Native American dance and music groups, art contests, and a class on old-school typesetting for our film HELVETICA. Of course, Community Cinema can also support much more serious engagement activities, including panels with medical and social service professionals or explorations of veterans issues or criminal justice.

We are also very excited about OVEE, the new Online Video Engagement Experience that ITVS created. What can you tell us about it?
OVEE is the first fully-functional social screening player to hit the media marketplace, and we've developed it exclusively for public television! Basically, any PTV station, local partner, educator, or even an individual, can use the system to "schedule" their own online screening of any program currently available through PBS Video. Once scheduled, "moderators" can invite up to 100 participants to join the live online screening event where they will watch the video together, simultaneously, with a live, real-time chat, quizzes, polls, and other opportunities to engage with the content and each other as they react to what they see and hear.

OVEE is currently in its Alpha testing phase, with the Beta version to be developed this summer before wider release to the PTV system.

OVEE is so easy to use that anyone can become an online content presenter, through their local public television station. The platform is ideal for educators, community-based organizations, and even for friends and family looking to share a media experience online. This could be a real game changer for PTV and community engagement, as it presents a low-to-no-cost solution for online video, social interaction, and engagement and education.

As one of the newest members of our Station Advisory Council, what do you hope to see PBS Interactive accomplish this year?
I would say that I believe strongly that social media is the "great equalizer" in the new media landscape, and that the deeper we can integrate social media across all our PTV digital platforms, that strategy has a strong chance of helping us to stay competitive with our commercial counterparts.

Also, I'd love to see the system embrace OVEE broadly, and I am interested in supporting local station efforts to improve their online presence, through Bento and ANY OTHER MEANS!! SO IMPORTANT!!!

And – just for fun – a few quick-fire questions:

iPhone or Android? iPhone
Dogs or cats? Doggies!!
Blog platform of choice? Facebook
Elmo or Grover? GROVER!!! (are you kidding ??)
I am currently listening to… Adele (like everyone else) and Gregorian Chants (not like everyone else)
I am currently reading… Short stories of a dystopic future Earth by Paulo Baccigallupi
I’m currently watching… Game of Thrones and Pan Am! Finally saw Super 8 and LOVED it.
Most overused phrase: "Seriously?" Or in Chinese: "Jin de ma?"

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