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HomeMore from Silverdocs
More from Silverdocs
Posted on: Tuesday, July 03 2012 |
By Kim Bender, BAVC Director of Development
In addition to the Factory presence at Silverdocs this year, BAVC was involved in a number of inspiring workshops and panels for media makers that generated tremendous interest for the upcoming Producers Institute for New Technologies in October (the deadline for applications is this Friday, July 6).
For Doc Maker as General Contractor: The Independent Producer’s Evolving Job Description, BAVC's Director of Independent Media Jen Gilomen moderated a rare maker-to-maker conversation with some of this year's Silverdocs producers who discussed the challenges of making a film while making everything else work.
On the panel with Jen were Producers Institute alum Pete Nicks (THE WAITING ROOM), Katie Dellamaggiore, (BROOKLYN CASTLE), Malika Zouhail-Worrall (CALL ME KUCHU) and Matthew Meschery, Director of Digital Initiatives at ITVS.
Here is a digest of the tips and strategies they shared.
1.) Create a community around you, personally and professionally.
PETE: It’s so important to get people on board early. It’s hard to get people’s interest early, but it’s so important to tell your story before anyone knows about it, and get those partners on board. It’s time well worth it.
JEN: Doc filmmakers are great sharers! Take people out to lunch. Best $10 you can spend.
KATIE: My brother connected us with a pro-bono attorney, which was super important. Then I tapped a friend to work with us on outreach. I recommend getting someone on board – and even a year in advance if you possibly can. Even an intern who can send really great emails. Also, I recommend a great consultant or mentor, someone who can give you a give you a POV outside your bubble.
MALIKA: I suggest even having 3-4 go to people because you may need a well-rounded perspective to figure out what is best for YOUR film. Everything post-production is even more busy and overwhelming. In this phase we have found that we need to survey more people, and now go to filmmakers that are in the same phase. We have saved so much money just by talking with other filmmakers who said “watch out for that contract” and “be sure to negotiate.”
2.) Don't take on everything yourself; delegate roles and create a team.
MALIKA: Assume you are going to be successful. Getting into the first festival is only the bottom of the mountain. Because you want to be ready for the onslaught of responsibilities. Get your team together.
MATT: We feel guilty about this, but ITVS makes you have a bookkeeper, a lawyer, an outreach coordinator. It means the budgets are growing. We understand that you need these functions on the team. We so respect what independent producers do. This is a really specific moment in history – adding transmedia budgets, promotion – can a producer include a social media producer in their production budget? We think yes.
MALIKA: Yes, but it’s good to be thinking about those roles early on because it gives you more time to find people who will do it for less money.
3.) If working with NGOs and NGSs, think of them as strategic partners but be careful of letting them influence content.
MATT: Think of the life cycle of the film: in the new world, the long tail includes being out there online, beyond your capacity to manage it. That’s where the NGO can come in: come in to take over the longterm distribution, mobile application, website.
MALIKA: We were constantly in contact with the activist community in Uganda to make sure we were articulating the RIGHT message, given how sensitive the subject was, and what needed to be said. We had to check in with them constantly. For example, when the anti-homosexuality film came out, we were asked to consider jumping in against it, but were advised not to.
PETE: I don’t want too close of a relationship with NGOs in the beginning because I don’t want the voices of the people whose story we are telling to be lost. The NGO’s will come around you once your story starts getting out there. Now I have to weigh those interests, which forces us to become activists.
MATT: You are trying to be true to yourself and your story, at the same time there's the burden of thinking about the distribution of your film. Strategies today require you to be connected to a core audience for your film, so you want to have a relationship with the NGO’s.
4.) Above all, stick to your guns and tell your story the best way you can.
KATIE: You have to put the BEST product out there. Focus on making the best film possible. You don’t want to allow other activities to deter you from your STORY.
BAVC also participated in two other events at Silverdocs, the Hackathon Panel and the workshop It's Alive: Tools for Documentary Storytelling.
The Hackathon Panel event was sponsored by the Living Docs project (Mozilla, ITVS, Tribeca Film Institute, BAVC and the Center for Social Media). Three filmmaker teams spent 36 hours with technology specialists from Mozilla and Zeega to prototype transmedia projects based on accessing public data.
- CITIZEN CORP (working title) by Carl Deal and Tia Lessin, helps connect the dots in the current high stakes political drama as it examines the impact of Citizens United on American democracy: who wins, who loses, and how? For the hackathon, they worked with technologists from the Sunlight Foundation to connect campaign finance to impacts in users home zip codes.
- BLACK GOLD BOOM: HOW OIL CHANGED NORTH DAKOTA by Todd Melby is a multi-platform, public media project that explores how the discovery and production of oil in western N.D. is changing the lives of the people who live and work there. He used Zeega to integrate still photography, radio interviews and imagery from North Dakota for an interactive user experience.
- GREEN CORPS (working title) by brothers Brandon and Lance Kramer, is an intimate examination of people impacted by a stimulus-funded green job-training program in an impoverished Washington DC community. Their transmedia project integrated interviews with workers giving neighborhood tours with Google maps and street-views of all the locations in DC where these workers are transforming public parks.
All the participating makers voiced excitement about the hackathon and how their experience opened up their imaginations about new ways to engage audiences. All agreed that the ideal team for a transmedia project includes the filmmaker(s), a tech person, a designer, and if public data is involved, a data specialist. For a more detailed recap of the Hackathon panel check out this entry on the LivingDocs blog.
For It's Alive, Jen Gilomen led an all-day workshop with ten filmmakers to introduce inspiring examples of transmedia storytelling.
- Matthew Meschery of ITVS demonstrated OVEE, a new, free tool that empowers groups large and small to attend online screenings with real time interaction.
- Jen also demoed Sparkwi.se, the impact dashboard conceived at BAVC and developed by Tomorrow Partners for monitoring social media metrics.
- Kara Oehler demoed Zeega, another exciting new open-source HTML5 platform for creating interactive and collaborative documentaries.
Armed with all these new tools, participants workshopped their transmedia story ideas in small groups and presented them at the end of the day. All and all it was super exciting to see the immediate results of these new storytelling tools and media platforms!