PBS Launches POV Spark Interactive Initiative

An American Pilgrimage -PBS Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy of PBS

PBS documentary series POV is entering the interactive realm with POV Spark, a new initiative to produce and fund interactive projects.

It will launch with three productions. Changing Same: An American Pilgrimage is described as an immersive, room-scale virtual reality experience in which the participant will "witness the connected historical experiences of racial injustice in the United States." A co-production of Rada Film Group and Scatter, it is created by Michèle Stephenson, Joe Brewster and Yasmin Elayat.

The Queen Versus Godfred is described as an interactive podcast series that examines a 2013 incident during which a 26-year-old immigrant from Ghana was the victim of police brutality in Calgary. It's created by Marc Serpa Francoeur and Robinder Uppal and is a co-production with Lost Time Media, Big Cedar Films and the National Film Board of Canada.

VR experience Atomu places the viewer in a Kikuyu tribal myth. It's created by Shariffa Ali and Yetunde Dada.

POV Spark is also kicking off an African Interactive Art Residency. In partnership with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, the residency provides artists from Africa and its diaspora with the opportunity to experiment with emerging media. POV Spark is also rebooting its incubator program, POV Spark Labs, offering mentorship in interactive production; projects developed through the program might additionally be distributed by PBS.

"Public media used to be the place for new and groundbreaking work, and POV Spark is returning to these roots," said Opeyemi Olukemi, executive producer of POV Spark and vp interactive at the producing company American Documentary.

As part of the new initiative, POV Spark intends to work with independent artists and international producers. This includes a partnership with the National Film Board of Canada to produce Otherly, a series of Instagram stories on the theme of “belonging.” POV Spark and the NFB will co-produce the series, providing financing to four project teams based in the U.S. and four based in Canada, with a focus on selecting diverse talent.

This spring, POV Spark is also introducing Public Update, featuring interactive nonfiction art from independent artists, published quarterly on the AmDoc and POV websites.