#docchat: Documentary Engagement Strategy: Creating a Lasting Impact on Google+ (May 6, 2014)

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Update: This #docchat has ended (watch the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFB04fyKJ7o). Thank you to all who participated and submitted questions. Our chat takeaways:

  • First, Make an Honest Assessment: There’s no “one size fits all” strategy, so the first step when planning a film campaign is to make a deep and honest assessment of your goals. Assess your resources (time, money, passion, skills, etc.) and what you bring to the table, then identify any gaps and what you need to fill them. Also assess the state of the social movement your film is a part of and consider how this will play into your campaign strategy.
  • Have Goals, but Be Flexible: Some goals you’ll have from the outset, but some will arise in response to what takes place along the way as you’re filming. Have long-term goals, but be able to shift as changes take place in the social movement.
  • Distribute Surveys: Audience surveys are an affordable and effective way to collect information on the impact of your film. You can also use these in the early stages of your film to inform your editing decisions and better understand your audience.
  • Build an Invested Audience: Bring a notebook or sign-up sheet to your screenings to collect emails. This will build an early and long-term support network for your film.
  • Make Mutually-Beneficial Partnerships: The most effective partnerships are mutually beneficial. Rather than just asking a partner to help you with your goals, make it clear that the film can help them achieve their mission and your common goals for the larger social-issue.
  • Bring it Back to the Community: Whether through screenings or distribution, bringing the film back to the community it features, in their native language, is a powerful and crucial part of a campaign.
  • Tell the Story of Your Film’s Impact: In reporting on the impact of your film, take a step away from words like “evaluation” and “metrics” and focus on doing what filmmakers do best — tell a story. Build a narrative around the impact of the film using anecdotes that demonstrate you film’s impact in ways numbers can’t, then support them with the stats and metrics you’ve collected.

How can documentary filmmakers working on long-standing social and political issues ensure that their work is well poised to move the needle on their chosen topic in a significant way?

In the next #docchat, ask your questions about creating documentary engagement campaigns that will have a lasting impact! The Fledgling Fund‘s Emily Verellen and Emmy-award winning filmmakers Roberto Hernández (Presumed Guilty) and Paco de Onís (Granito: How to Nail a Dictator) will be providing tips in a live video chat and taking your questions. The chat will take place on POV’s Google+ page on Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 12:30-1:15 PM ET (9:30-10:15 AM ET).

Here is an overview of the event:

Where: Online on POV’s Google+ page

When: Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 12:30-1:15 PM ET (9:30-10:15 AM ET).

Who: Emily Verellen, Director of Programs and Communications at The Fledgling Fund, Paco de Onís (Granito: How to Nail a Dictator) and Roberto Hernández (Presumed Guilty). Eliza Licht, POV’s Vice President of Community Engagement and Education, will moderate.

What: The panelists will share best practices for running successful social issue engagement campaigns, and offer answers to filmmakers’ questions about strategies for lasting impact.

How: Go to the Google+ event page to watch the live video. Let us know you’re coming and get your questions in early by RSVPing on the Google+ event page. You can also leave your question as a comment on this post or by tweeting with the hashtag #docchat. If you are accessing the chat via a mobile device, you will need the Hangouts app which must be synced to YouTube. Download the app for iOS or Android devices. If you miss the event, revisit this page later for a recorded video of the discussion.

Find out about future #docchat events: Subscribe to POV’s blog, like POV on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @povdocs!

POV Staff
POV Staff
POV (a cinema term for "point of view") is television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV premieres 14-16 of the best, boldest and most innovative programs every year on PBS. Since 1988, POV has presented over 300 films to public television audiences across the country. POV films are known for their intimacy, their unforgettable storytelling and their timeliness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues.