Visiting Filmmakers: Patrice O’Neill and Pamela Calvert

The Working Group’s 1995 story of how the town of Billings, Montana responded to a rash of hate crimes, Not In Our Town, set a new standard for television impact. What began as a half-hour PBS special eight years ago has turned into a national movement. In collaboration with the Independent Media Institute and Benton Foundation, O’Neill led an unprecedented outreach campaign featuring screenings and town hall meetings in hundreds of communities nation-wide, and continued with a second PBS Democracy Project special, Not In Our Town II. The Not In Our Town campaign continues in communities to this day.

With Rhian Miller, O’Neill produced We Do The Work, one of the only national public television series about work and labor (1990-1996). Her ten-part PBS series Livelyhood (1997-2001) won five Cine Golden Eagles and was called “a stroke of television genius” by television critic Tim Goodman and an “off-beat and uplifting series…with uncommon humor and grace” by the Wall Street Journal.

Pamela Calvert is the former station relations and outreach manager for the Independent Television Service, where she developed award-winning campaigns for public television productions including The Farmer’s Wife and La Ciudad; prior to joining ITVS, she was outreach and organizing director for Judith Helfand’s Peabody Award-winning ITVS documentary A Healthy Baby Girl. Calvert served as director of programs and services for the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers and as a program evaluator for the Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media of The Funding Exchange, and was a founding board member of Working Films. She is co-producer of The Fire Next Time: A Not In Our Town Special, which will be broadcast on PBS winter 2004-05. Read an article by Calvert, Media and Metanoia

Not in Our Town is a national movement that encourages community response to hate crimes. The project combines PBS broadcast, grassroots events, educational outreach and online activities to help communities battling hate talk to‹and learn from‹each other. For the past decade, Not in Our Town has chronicled positive community organizing stories and provided practical tools to stimulate dialogue.

The original Not In Our Town documentary told the story of how the citizens of Billings, Montana joined forces to resist bigotry in their town (http://www.pbs.org/show/not-our-town/). It was followed one year later by a PBS Democracy Project Special, Not In Our Town II, that showed how communities all over the country were inspired by the Billings story to start anti-hate campaigns in their own towns.

What began as a half hour public television special has turned into a movement which is now entering its second decade. From Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Santee, California; Auburn, Maine to Greensboro, North Carolina, hundreds of law enforcement, civic groups, schools and PBS stations are using the program both to respond to and to prevent hate crimes.

The latest film in the Not In Our Town seriesThe Fire Next Time, profiles two years in the life of a dangerously divided town in Northwest Montana. The program examines how hate and intolerance manifest themselves in a community polarized by rapid change, economic displacement and environmental issues.

A film presentation will include a condensed version of the original documentary about Billings, Montana, excerpts from Not In Our Town II and other stories that have emerged from the Not In Our Town movement, and clips from The Fire Next Time, recently funded by ITVS.

Patrice O’Neill and Pamela Calvert will talk about how the successful impact of Not In Our Town has influenced the filmmaking direction of The Working Group, and new challenges for broadcast-based community organizing and outreach.

Not in Our Town on PBS