Thursday, October 13, 2016

TV Family Available to All PBS Stations

The National Educational Telecommunications Association is distributing TV Family to PBS stations all over the country. Let your local PBS station know you want to see TV Family on TV!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Screening: Thursday, Sept. 15, 5 pm, UT Austin

I am extremely honored that a screening of TV Family will be part of the opening night of the tenth anniversary Flow Conference on the UT Austin campus. I have attended every one of the Flow conferences, and choosing to go to the first one (even when I didn't have an official spot participating) was the single best decision I ever made in my career.

Screening details: Belo Media Center Auditorium, 5-7 pm, Thursday, September 15.

The screening will start with a couple short selections from the Texas Archive of the Moving Image prior to TV Family. After TV Family, there will be a short Q&A with myself and members of the Robertson family.

Screening event on Facebook here

Flow Conference web site here

Find the Belo Media Center here

Friday, July 8, 2016

Screening: Friday, July 15 at Amarillo Little Theatre

I am excited to be screening TV Family at the Amarillo Little Theatre as part of their annual film festival. I will be attending and so will a number of members of the Robertson family. This will be a homecoming for the film, since Amarillo was home to the Robertson family in 1960 when Story of a Family was made. Amarillo is something of a character in that documentary and it is in TV Family as well. It is also where we shot a number of interviews when we first started making TV Family. The screening and discussion will be moderated by Bryan Vizzini, an associate professor of history at West Texas A&M University.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Screening Friday April 29, Art Museum of South Texas

I am thrilled to be screening TV FAMILY at the Art Museum of South Texas this Friday. When I was growing up nearby in Port Aransas, the annual Christmas Tree Forest was held there. When I moved back to south Texas after graduate school (and after acquiring a healthy appreciation of modern architecture) I became a genuine fan of the building--especially once I learned that not only was it designed by Philip Johnson, but that Andy Warhol had shown up at the opening taking pictures of everyone with his Polaroid. I have enjoyed taking part in the filmmaker screenings there over the years, and am excited and humbled to now being showing my film in the auditorium. When I was in Athens, GA as a Peabody Fellow in fall 2015, I found a documentary on Philip Johnson in the archive. Best of all, there was a clip of the Art Museum of South Texas, circa 1976, in it. Here's that clip:

Friday, April 22, 2016

TV Family History Outtake: From the 60s to Today

In this sequence cut from the hour-long version of TV Family, we hear about changes in TV families in the sixties and seventies, including fantastic sitcoms and the documentary series An American Family, as well as changes in Amarillo and in the Robertson family.

Part One:

Big Change Outtake Part 1 from Ethan Thompson on Vimeo.

Part Two: In the second part, we here more about changes in the sixties and seventies, and continue on further into the dawn of the reality TV era and families on The Osbournes, Duck Dynasty, and shows like Survivor.

Big Change Outtake Part 2 from Ethan Thompson on Vimeo.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Screening in Corpus Christi

TV FAMILY will be screening Friday, April 29, at the Art Museum of South Texas. The film will start at 6 pm, followed by a discussion with the filmmaker (me!) and several of the family members who star in the documentary.

There is an event page set up on Facebook here:

Very much looking forward to sharing the film with so many who supported it in South Texas!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Responses to TV FAMILY

The Media Education Foundation, who distributes TV FAMILY to the education market, has been soliciting reviews of the DVD (which they sell/stream here). I'm very happy about the praise it has been getting.

"A marvelous slice of television history. Ethan Thompson has brilliantly examined the making of a fascinating, forgotten 1960 NBC documentary on family life. Thompson's insightful interviews with family members and media experts peel back layers of meaning, exploring tensions of the era surrounding documentary production, representation and American ideology. Will be required viewing for everyone interested in the history of television, gender studies and American Culture."

- Kathy Fuller-Seeley | William P. Hobby Professor of Communication, Graduate Advisor and GSC chair at the University of Texas at Austin

"This is a fascinating exploration of a long-overlooked program that forecasts our current reality TV craze while harking back to the old March of Time factual recreations. The Robertson family of Amarillo, Texas were the Loud family of their day. This heartfelt and moving documentary cuts between past and present to give us a glimpse not only of what one 1960 American family was like, but what early television was like, and how its version of American family life contrasted in striking ways with the reality."
- Michele Hilmes | Professor Emerita | Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison 

“Informative and engaging. TV Family presents a really insightful blend of archival material of Story of a Family, first person reflections by the family members who were involved in the show, and critical analysis, by media scholars but also by some of the family members who offer very thoughtful and reflective analyses. It provides audiences with an important piece of TV history, one from which my own students, who think reality TV is a recent phenomenon, will benefit. The documentary successfully provides a social, cultural and historical context for the original show, locating it not just in TV history but also as a product of its own specific cultural moment."
- Susan Scheibler | Associate Professor of Film and TV Studies at Loyola Marymount University