Defining main components of a social issue film campaign was the subject of the first day at Reel Change: Managing Social Issue Film Campaigns presented by Working Films and The Fledgling Fund in collaboration with the Center for Social Media in Washington D.C. Molly Murphy of Working Films led the morning discussion and used The Vanishing of Bees documentary as a case study to illustrate a successful social issue film campaign. From this example I learned something important right off the bat and that is that campaigns are not set, implemented and stuck to. They are constantly evaluated and adjusted accordingly. The main points of a campaign, however, that we all got to know more personally today are 1). Distribution, 2). Outreach and Strategic Communications and 3). Audience Engagement. These are more challenging to define than one might think. Most of us get what distribution is, but for many the other two get kind of foggy and this language often gets used interchangeably even though they are not the same. Anyone can get further clarification by reading The Fledgling Fund's From Distribution to Audience Engagement - Social Change Through Film, written by Reel Change workshop instructor and The Fledgling Fund's Director of Programs, Emily Verellen. In fact all three websites (Working Films, The Fledgling Fund and Center for Social Media) have a ton of helpful information for free.
What is unique and valuable about this workshop is the hands-on attention to each filmmaker's story and situation as campaign design is really shaped by each individual film's case. What works for one filmmaker might not work for another. It depends on many variables. This workshop operates as both a classroom-presentation and lecture type structure but also takes time to break it up into groups of mini think tanks with a mentor sitting in. This setting not only allows for telling your own project's story and the questions that are still up in the air regarding its campaign, but it also offers and informative exchanges of ideas.
The project I brought to this workshop is one I'm wearing many hats on. I will edit this documentary, which is the role I usually play, but for this effort I am also the media maker and the campaign designer. Being at the post end requires some campaign consideration in that I think about the campaign goal and how it relates and aligns with the story, but coming at it as a producer and campaign coordinator first is something brand new. For The Recycler's Urban Farm and Garden Project I have a whole lot more to think about. One valuable tidbit I've already come away with today is that I was under the impression that I was an early bird with thinking about developing campaign strategies and goals around this film, but in fact I'm really getting a late start. It's time to get cracking'.
That being said the attendees of this workshop are at all stages in their production and all are enthusiastic and supportive which makes for a well rounded and lively bunch.