It was a busy June and has been an even busier July, but I wanted to share some notes from a conversation between Sheila Nevins and Geoffrey Gilmore. The discussion happened on April 25 as part of the Tribeca Film Festival.

Geoffrey noted that Sheila has been called the “Medici of TV” or the “Dominatrix of Docs.” She used to work at NY’s Channel 13 and has a theater background. She likes to see TV as theater, and says, “Curtains Up!” when she turns on the TV. Sheila mentioned that she gets bored easily, which she repeated in a recent article in the NYTimes called, “The Force Behind HBO’s Documentaries.”

HBO Documentary Film Stats:
Acquire – about 15%
Produce in-house – about 70%
Finishing funds – about 15%

Sheila said that if your film (she calls them “docus”) could be on free tv, HBO won’t take it. I would like to know if other people agree.

Here’s how HBO rates its programs in order of importance:
1 Movies
2 Series
3 HBO movies
4 Sports Docs
5 Fights
6 Docs

If you send your work to HBO, they should get back to you within four weeks. Sheila suggested contacting her associate, Lisa Heller, VP of Documentary Programming, at extension 5303.

Another fact about Sheila:
Sheila Nevins participates in a web site called Women on the Web . There are other high-powered women “of a certain age” who write for the site regularly, including Liz Smith, Whoopi Goldberg and Joan Ganz Cooney. Sheila said that the site is like a hobby, “like needlepoint.” I think (and hope) wowOwow will evolve, especially since I received an online questionnaire asking me what I liked about the site and if I would be ok with a wowOwow online store.