Larger strides are being taken in the documentary industry as award winning director, Laura Poitras launches the ambitious venture, Field of Vision. Partnering with documentary veterans Charlotte Cook and A.J. Schnack, Field of Vision will commission short-form documentaries and make them available, free of charge, online via the Field of Vision streaming website. As large companies like PBD, HBO, and Netflix continue to hot and fund longer, more formal productions, Poitras aims to provide a platform for timely, new stories that stand apart from industry heavyweights.
After taking home an Oscar for her riveting examination of the Edward Snowden case, no one expected Ms. Poitras to become and entrepreneur. However, her new company, sponsored by First Look Media, will provide one-off, first look encounters on numerous topics ranging from homelessness to political strife. Some recognizable industry participants include Michael Moore and “House of Cards” creator Beau Willimon. This upcoming Sunday at the 2015 New York Film Festival, Poitras will premier Kirsten Johnson’s “The Above,” Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher’s “Peace in the Valley,” and Iva Radivojevic’s “Notes From the Border.” The key difference between Field of Vision projects and standard PBS documentaries lies in each project’s ability to be relevant, current, and serve as an alternative outlet for nonfiction film.
According to A.J. Schnack, the director of a nonfiction film about Kurt Cobain, “[Field of Vision wants] to play in the corner where journalism and documentary overlap.” Filmmakers believe that this new platform will allow them to participate in current debates creatively without the bureaucracy of big name players who require long waiting periods, making the concept of timeliness impossible. Field of Vision also plans to experiment with serialized content, much like “This American Life’s” spinoff, “Serial.”
Even with consistent backing and verbal support, Poitras recognizes difficulties that lie ahead. Online services like YouTube and Vimeo haven been modern powerhouses and central hubs for independent directors and producers. Regardless of competition, Laura Poitras is confident that the aspect of community building will guide Field of Vision to success.