WQED announced yesterday that it's adding significant local programming. In fact, the public-TV station is launching a whole new weekly show to feature the work of local filmmakers.
Hosted by longtime QED producer Minette Seate and bearing the slightly retro name Filmmaker's Corner, it's set to premiere Jan. 23, with a one-hour installment of Chris Ivey's epic, multi-part documentary East of Liberty. FC will air at 10 p.m. every Saturday (minus pledge drives, of course).
QED says it's long wanted to feature work by local filmmakers, and now has the funding to do it.
I have to admit to a personal take here. For nine seasons, from 1998 through 2007, I curated and hosted Film Kitchen, a monthly screening series for local artists. Most of the shows were at Pittsburgh Filmmakers' Melwood Screening Room; Filmmakers was a sponsor of the series, as was City Paper, at the time.
Running that series was a great way to learn how much film and video talent there is in Pittsburgh. Most of its practitioners working in the short form (in works from 5 to 30 minutes long, say), and don't have too many outlets for reaching audiences.
Back in March 2006, Film Kitchen even screened an early work-in-progress cut of Ivey's East of Liberty.
The busy local filmmaker was inspired to make this documentary about the battles over redevelopment -- and gentrification -- in the neighborhood starting with the implosion of several apartment buildings there in the early '00s.
(Here's a link to the preview story I did:
Film Kitchen continues, by the way, every second Tuesday of the month at the Melwood, under the direction of filmmaker and Filmmakers staffer Matthew R. Day.
For a year or so there was even a Film Kitchen TV, featuring interviews with Film Kitchen artists and excerpts of their work, on the public-access station PCTV.
QED of course reaches a much larger and broader audience, and it'll be interesting to see what Seate and company come up with for programming. Working in the short form, most local and independent filmmakers fly under the radar in a culture where the feature-length film is the standard. While many prefer the short form, as it's more conducive to experimentation, others work in it at least partly because that's what their resources allow.
But films of less than feature length don't have many outlets, even in film festivals. A one-hour television format would seem perfect for showcasing the work of artists who have several works of 10 minutes or less, for instance. Seate -- who once served as a judge for a Film Kitchen contest -- is well aware of this community and ought to do well highlighting it.