PBS’s documentary series arm POV is diving into new forms of story-telling with POV Spark, a new unit that’s all about interactive and immersive experiences. Some of the first projects coming out of POV Spark are 3 new immersive media projects as well as a series of Instagram Stories produced in partnership with the National Film Board of Canada (NFB).
The first project announced Tuesday is “Changing Same: An American Pilgrimage,” which has been described as a room-scale VR time travel to witness slavery, lynching, and mass incarceration, as well as an afro-futurist tomorrow. The experience has been created by Michèle Stephenson, Joe Brewster and Yasmin Elayat, and is a co-production of Rada Film Group and Scatter.
Spark’s second foray into immersive media is “The Queen Versus Godfred,” which has been described as an “interactive visual podcast” that is exploring the true-crime story of police brutality against a West African immigrant in Calgary, Canada. It has been created by Marc Serpa Francoeur, Robinder Uppal, and is a co-production with Lost Time Media, Big Cedar Films, and the National Film Board of Canada.
The unit’s third project is “Atomu,” a VR experience that lets viewers participate in a tribal ceremony that explores gender roles. It has been created by Shariffa Ali and Yetunde Dada, with Atlas V being a co-executive producer.
In addition to these 3 pieces, Spark is also getting ready to launch a series of Instagram Stories dubbed “Otherly” around the theme of belonging. The series will be produced by a total of 8 teams, evenly split between the U.S. and Canada, with a focus on women, non-binary, and genderqueer creators.
“We’re excited to announce our first batch of programs, merging the excitement of interactive media with the essence of public media,” said POV Spark executive producer Opeyemi Olukemi. “As nascent platforms continue to thrive it’s essential that public media not only asserts itself into this landscape, but leads with the same vision and quality that has made it synonymous with trust and editorial integrity. Public media used to be the place for new and groundbreaking work and POV Spark is returning to these roots.”