From Abstract Idea to Tangible Plan - Media For Change

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Sharon Linezo Hong is of mixed ethnic heritage. Her mother’s family album begins with a photograph of two Native American women from the Florida Everglades.

From Abstract Idea to Tangible Plan - Media For Change

Date Posted: 
2011-08-30 00:00

Blog Series:

Finally in Post-Production, I can see an end to five years of making my first feature documentary, My Louisiana Love. Now… how will the film help bring forth change for my best friend, co-producer, and main subject, Monique Verdin and her Houma Indian family of southeast Louisiana? With this question hanging over me, I gratefully accepted Vision Maker Media’s invitation to a Media for Change workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I brought Monique along with me so she would also get a better understanding of what carrying our documentary into the world may be like. The workshop made our abstract idea of audience engagement and outreach become a more tangible plan.

Molly Murphy of Working Films led the daylong workshop. Molly did a great job introducing the methodology Working Films uses to help documentary filmmakers move their audiences from passive viewing to meaningful involvement with the issues of concern. We started by first recognizing the PURPOSE and VISION for our film. We explored this by asking: Why did I make the film? How is the story relevant? Where do I want the film to end up?

The next step, we identified potential partners. Our outreach and audience engagement should be a collaborative effort with allies. These allies can be organizations, associations and networks addressing related issues with the same target audience. We assessed our potential partners by looking at their FOCUS and tactics. Are they lobbyists? Researchers? What do they do to address the issues?

The most challenging step was to develop our film’s pitch.  The pitch should be 30 seconds of articulating the purpose and vision of your film’s engagement effort and how partnership could advance both the film’s impact and the organizations work. Once partnership is established be sure to make a friendly written agreement that will clearly show what each organization is committed to do for the film’s community engagement campaign.

During the afternoon session, Rose Poston of KNME guided us through a PBS learning website for educators. It was interesting to see the resources available for classrooms. Today children are growing up in an extremely media saturated world, so it is very important to encourage kids to question and reflect on all media from commercials to documentaries. As a filmmaker and mother of two young children, I hope more media will be made to broaden perspectives and make viewers young and old become more socially and environmentally responsible.

Afterwards, we were given the time to network and start a dialogue with educators and other media makers. The dialogues exchanged were very interesting and inspiring and I only hope that the conversations will continue. I was happy to hear the teachers in our group say personal narratives are what move their students the most. The idea of our documentary being shared in classrooms with a curriculum guide makes the struggle of filmmaking all worth it.

The next day Monique and I drove around the desert making our plans for a 2012-community engagement/outreach tour with My Louisiana Love.  Much thanks to Vision Maker Media for giving us this opportunity!