A growing push for data-driven documentary filmmaking

Wendy Levy, the director of arts consultancy group New Arts AXIS, called for documentary filmmakers to embrace big data tools as a permanent part of their storytelling process during the keynote address at the Media That Matters Conference, held Feb. 15 in Washington, D.C.

Kickstarter users have given more than $42M to documentaries

Crowdfunding website Kickstarter announced Thursday that independent film projects on its site had passed the $100 million mark in pledges since its 2009 launch, with $42.6 million of that total pledged to documentaries — the largest share of any film genre. Many Kickstarter-funded documentaries find their way to larger success, whether through film festivals, theatrical distribution or airings on networks like PBS. This year, three Kickstarter-assisted documentary features shortlisted for a Best Documentary Oscar nomination will also air on PBS in 2013: The Waiting Room, Detropia and Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.

George Stoney, public-access television pioneer, dies at 96

George Stoney, a pioneering documentarian widely regarded as the father of public-access television, died July 12 at his Manhattan home, days after celebrating his 96th birthday. Stoney was a prolific filmmaker and longtime New York University professor, and was active on the boards of Manhattan Neighborhood Network, a public-access channel, and the Alliance for Community Media. He co-founded the Alternate Media Center, the organization that gave birth to public-access television. “A catalyst, that was the word for George,” said Barbara Abrash, former director of public programs at the Center for Media, Culture and History at NYU, and a longtime colleague and friend. “He inspired people to do what they could do best and was full of ambition, but only for worthwhile pursuits.”

Stoney was born July 1, 1916, in Winston-Salem, N.C., and his career ran the gamut: In addition to his work as a filmmaker, professor, and journalist, he served as a photo intelligence officer during WWII.