As Thursday is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, we’re thinking about our impact in the sustainability work that we do, and the change that media projects like No Impact Man can spark.
How do filmmakers create an audience engagement campaign that is unique, yet has ties to a movement that already exists? Gillian Caldwell, Campaign Director of 1Sky, puts it simply when speaking about their partnership with No Impact Man, “It’s important that the relationship be reciprocal.”
Working Films and The Fledgling Fund are excited to bring you the second video in our series, No Impact Man: Activating Your Audience. It illustrates the benefits of mutually beneficial relationships and demonstrates creating opportunities for participation that extends the story beyond the film. Watch the video and find out how No Impact Man and its partners, like 1Sky, worked together to move participants from individual action to collective action.
Missed last week’s invigorating Story Leads to Action at the 92YTribeca that we co-hosted with Chicken & Egg Pictures? Fear not, filmmakers Elizabeth Mandel and Beth Davenport have agreed to share their lessons learned from the evening for your benefit:
photo by Chicken & Egg Pictures
Three years after filming the reunion of a Congolese girl and her mother, separated by war in Congo, Rose & Nangabire (working title) is almost complete. The work-in-progress screening last Thursday was an exciting opportunity to share our work outside the edit room. With a focus on audience engagement, it was also invigorating to finally explore in a public forum how the film can be used to create change.
While many social-justice issues are covered in the film, our audience engagement strategy focuses on refugee rights and resettlement; peace-building and reconciliation; and women in post-conflict situations. The evening was moderated by Robert West of Working Films, with panelists Matthew Edmundson, Operations Officer, Mapendo International and Desiree Younge, Senior Manager, Global Philanthropists Circle, Synergos. Audience members included representatives from the International Rescue Committee, STEPS to End Family Violence, Witness, Human Rights Watch and The Safe Harbor Project, as well as filmmakers and film fans.
Ideas and thoughts generated by the post-screening discussion included the following uses for the film or modules created from the footage:
• Reaching policymakers and practitioners who are often, due to politicization, desensitized to the issues Rose and her family confront and challenge.
• Targeting schools, because the presence of a teenage refugee going to high school in the film will make the issues accessible to a youth audience.
• Partnering with the Department of Education to train teachers who work with refugees and other ESL populations.
• Bringing together diaspora communities, for example by creating a women’s-only discussion group, and/or a group for teens, where survivors of war can have a safe space to share their experiences.
• Working with women- and girls- leadership programs to provide a portrait of a strong, resourceful role model.
It was also pointed out that while embarking on our project we need to assess who is already doing this work and can program the film into their existing frameworks, and who can use the film to take their work to new places. This thought brings us to our next phase, solidifying relationships with organizations that address our three issue areas, and finessing the ways in which Rose & Nangabire can be used to help them in their work. As we finish up the film and begin to screen at film festivals, we’re also looking forward to using this momentum to inspire thinking and follow up action on the part of general audiences as well.
Stay tuned for announcements about our festival premiere and the launch of our audience engagement plan. In the meantime, if you are in any way involved with our issue areas — refugee rights and resettlement; peace-building and reconciliation; and women in post-conflict situations — please be in touch, we’d love to hear from you. We can be reached at elizabeth at artsengine.net or beth at artsengine.net.
From an impressive 220 submissions, eight outstanding filmmaking teams will pitch their projects and associated engagement campaigns. The goal is to create a unique coalition of non-profits, NGOs, for-profit brands and foundations around each film to accelerate its impact and influence. The filmmakers in the Good Pitch 2009 can attest to successes: immediate funding from unexpected sources, strategic partnerships with organizations to reach new audiences, savvy and unique audience and community engagement tactics from allies “on the front lines”. And it keeps getting better, watch for some highlights from us in future blogs.
The selected filmmakers are Tom Rielly (Moving Windmills), Jennifer Arnold (A Small Act), Michele Stephenson & Joe Brewster (An American Promise), Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady (Detroit Hustles Harder), Michael Collins (Give Up Tomorrow), Alexandra Codina (Monica & David), Lee Hirsch (The Bully Project) and Eugene Martin (Anderson Monarchs Soccer Club). Congrats to all of them, and we’re off!
How do social issue documentary films do more than just raise awareness?
Are you a documentary filmmaker looking for the formula to take your film to the next level?
IMPACT is a new series of videos created by Working Films and The Fledgling Fund focused on building film campaigns that ignite social change.
Assessing Impact: A Funder’s Perspective is the first video in our series. It features our partner The Fledgling Fund and gives you an insider’s look at how to assess the impact of a film, its distribution and related campaign. Founder Diana Barrett and Executive Director Shelia Leddy discuss the impact of Born into Brothels and Ghosts of Abu Ghraib. You’ll get a close look at how these films supported the social change goals of their partner organizations and how they were tied to urgent actions. Diana and Sheila also lead you through their foundation’s transformation into one of the leaders in the field of supporting creative media and audience engagement.
Set in Kenya, the documentary vividly calls into question the positive impact of international development organizations, from the housing reconstruction efforts of the UN in the slums of Kibera to a private agri-business in the swamp lands of Yala. The film raises issues about dead aid, and the politics of international development which often excludes the involvement of the very people these organizations are trying to help.
The film has had a successful year on the festival circuit along with a notable P.O.V. broadcast, but the aim of the night was to put heads together with NY guest educators to hash out how this film could really make a difference where it is most needed; among students learning international development, aid organizations, the donor community, inter-governmental organizations like the UN/World Bank/IMF that promote foreign investment in developing countries.
From left to right: Landon Van Soest, Jeremy Levine, Eliza Licht, David Gerwin, Dr. Mojúbàobolú Olúfúnké Okome
Dr. Mojúbàobolú Olúfúnké Okome, Professor of Political Science; Eliza Licht, Director, Community Engagement and Education, P.O.V.; and David Gerwin, Associate Professor, Coordinator, Program in Social Studies, all provided varied personal insight on the content of the film and the purpose to which it could be most effectively used.
P.O.V. came away with ideas for compiling an education packet to be distributed with the film to various education institutions and both Professors spoke about how the film could be used in the class room. Beyond the guest speakers contributions to the conversation, filmmakers in the audience shared their views and ideas about ways to take this film beyond the film circuit.
Audience members where encouraged to write their questions and ideas down, whilst the conversation was taking place, for the filmmakers to take home and transform into practical audience engagement strategies.
Here are some of audience members’ suggestions:
• Show the film to large foundations to encourage them to support projects with local involvement.
• Include more statistics for the educational version.
• Give updates on what is happening with the stories now.
• Provide more info on different approaches to development like microlending.
• We also got lots of great suggestions for organizations to highlight for our educational guide and venues to screen the film.
The Age of Stupid hasn’t called it quits now that their film is finished and out in the world. They are broadcasting live from the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen with the aim to make “the most important meeting in human history comprehensible to people without degrees in hot air”. The filmmakers are working in close collaboration with NGOs to distribute the Stupid Show via the internet to a number of audiences and engage a number of global citizens in Copenhagen.
You can watch it live on the ageofstupid.net or view past shows. Tonight they will be talking to environmentalist, writer and founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben.
The Stupid Show is hosted by oneclimate as part of their Copenhagen 24/7 webcast.
Filmmakers and organizations are coming up with creative ways to incorporate a spectrum of social media into film campaigns, including interactive websites and games, issue-based social networking communities, podcasts and web TV shows. Associate Director of the No Impact Project, Stephanie Bleyer, joins us as a guest blogger to share how she’s using a widget as part of the No Impact Project’s campaign.
The No Impact Project and the Center for a New American Dream have joined together to help communities simplify the holidays this year. During the two-weeks of the historic UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (December 7th-18th), we’re bringing people together to talk about the impact of holiday spending on their lives and the environment.
We organized 50 simultaneous community screenings and for this effort we needed one all-inclusive marketing tool that would be very easy for people to share and post on their blogs, websites, newsletters and e-vites. The No Impact widget is a terrific web marketing tool created for us by Call2Action. It is a mini-website that has the film trailer, film details, project details, event details and a space to make a pledge related to our film screening event.
Our goal for the widget was to allow people to view the trailer, inspire them to RSVP for the No Impact Man Holiday Screening Spectacular and make a pledge to simplify their holidays, which is linked to the theme of the screening event. We definitely recommend this tool to other audience engagement film campaigns.
Filmmakers and organizations are coming up with creative ways to incorporate a spectrum of social media into film campaigns, including interactive websites and games, issue-based social networking communities, podcasts and web TV shows. Filmmaker Nancy Schwartzman joins us as a guest blogger to share how she’s using popular social media tools to engage young people in her campaign.
“The Line is about building a world where people are free to be sexual beings without being used or mistreated. Hookup culture disempowers even its bravest soldiers with “dude, I’m gettin’ some tonight;” even when women play the game, we’re expected to obey someone else’s rules.”
From: “Next time, text me back: I was the Grrl du Jour” (Author: Carmen)
“I applaud Ronan’s speaking out about his struggle as a male person negotiating “Manhood” with a commitment to social justice… As a male person who grew up with and fully defensive about all but class privilege, I understand that coming to a place of recognition without defensiveness and learning from the discomfort is difficult and it’s a process that requires a courage and strength much more meaningful than the traditional “Manly” version.”
From: “Responses to: Sexist Boyhood in Urban New Jersey” (Author: Ronen, Comment Jonathon Grove)
The Line is a 24-minute documentary, challenging ideas about sexual consent, negotiation, and boundaries. It is told from a personal point of view in a compelling, engaging style suited for a college-age audience. It is the first film of its kind to address the topic of consent in a direct, sex-positive voice, while examining a sexual assault where part of the act was consensual and part of it was forced. The film asks the question: where is the line defining consent?
The biggest challenge for this outreach project, was taking the topic of sexual assault and creating a space for non-polarizing, accessible, and non-judgmental conversation that emphasizes communication, personal responsibility and pleasure. Our goal was to use The Line film to create an educational, interactive and multi-media campaign that fosters dialogue about sexual boundaries and consent, and empowers young men and women to discuss complex scenarios about healthy relationships and sex.
In our consultations with filmmakers, at our strategic summits, in our workshops and residencies, and during informal conversations at film festivals we are always trying to hammer home for filmmakers the importance of forming solid, ongoing, mutually-beneficial partnerships with organizations working on the issues featured in their films. From the start of our work ten years ago, we found strategic partnerships – finding the right NGOs, funders, and even brands – to be the one key component for successful film campaigns. If we identified the right partners, the rest came easy. Built into these partnerships were mutually beneficial outcomes: You bring them CONTENT – the compelling narrative of your film, and they bring you INTENT – embedding your film into their reach and long term commitment, taking your film to crucial audiences, their members and constituents. Some NGOs have brilliant strategies for policy shifts or for new models for providing social services. Your film can be the catalyst that’s needed for a final push to make these things happen. A collaborative campaign maximizes resources and together you and the NGOs create IMPACT.
By now, most filmmakers “get it” – they know partnerships between NGOs, advocates, on-the-ground activists, and policy strategists are the most likely means to build a robust audience engagement and alternative distribution campaign for their film, but often they tackle the problem from the wrong direction. We tell filmmakers: The question to your potential partners is not “How can you help my movie?” but “How can my movie help the movement?”