Media for Change

Media for Change

Melissa Henry is an artist and filmmaker.

Date Posted: 
2011-09-28 14:25

Blog Series:


I received valuable professional information about working as a documentary producer during the Media for Change workshop with Molly Murphy from Working Films on August 19 of this year.

I am fundamentally a writer, director, cinematographer and editor, but I will be making my first foray into documentary producing for an upcoming project in my company, Red Ant Films.

At the workshop I learned the different stages of how a documentary film is born. It is a similar process to what I’ve followed to make fiction films, so it is a skill I already have, and I can just apply it to a new format.

We also discussed how to get the audience meaningfully involved with the issues presented in our documentaries. Molly offered real life examples from a recent project.

She also discussed online fundraising strategies through websites like Kickstarster and Facebook.

Returning to the theme of involving the audience, we discussed the producer’s motivation for doing a project. Why do we do it, why do we care, where are we going with it? We also connected those questions with the search for allies during the fundraising phase of our projects.

We then discussed pitching, and the format for a good pitch, and the need to make an impact in a short time.

Back to the subject of allies, we talked about choosing partners carefully so that we can have shared goals and focus our research.

Molly shared the fact that Working Films offers consulting on proposals for a fee that starts at $250 for 4 hours and can reach up to five figures. However, some colleagues and I felt that we often don’t have the funds to make these sorts of investments. Here is an issue where assistance could be critical for Native filmmakers.

Perhaps some of us could benefit from a workshop on how to conduct fundraising and parlaying seed funds into larger projects. This would be crucial, as most of us are already have access to get small grants.

Molly also discussed the use of sample footage and a clear timetable when pitching to funders.

She then briefly discussed online marketing strategies.

At the end of the session we were tasked with practicing our pitches in groups. In my case it was more of a brainstorming, as I did not have a pitch ready.

It was very good to be able to work with other filmmakers and see their ideas at work. Unfortunately we ran out of time and only one person was able to pitch their project to the rest of the audience.

I would welcome the opportunity to continue this process. I would love the chance to practice my pitch and watch my colleagues do the same. I would participate in such a workshop if it were offered.

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