Cinema For Change: How Filmmakers Can Make A Difference With Their Films

Cinema for Change

When it comes to film I can honestly say I have a great love of documentaries. There’s something so magical about a filmmaker being able to show lives through a lens and present the viewer with unique true stories.

Recently, I watched the documentary I Am Jane Doe.  Written and directed by filmmaker Mary Mazzio (who also serves as producer with Alec Sokolow), I Am Jane Doe is the powerful story of American mothers waging a war against online sex trafficking on behalf of their daughters who were trafficked. The film is narrated by Jessica Chastain (who is also an executive producer).  I highly suggest looking at the film’s synopsis page to find out even more about this incredible documentary.

As the credits rolled on I Am Jane Doe, I was in pieces. I wanted to do something about this. I didn’t just want to be a passive viewer. What sprung to mind was the famous quote by Aung San Suu Kyi: “if you’re feeling helpless, help someone.” Making my way to the film’s website, I was pleased to see a section dedicated to actions that viewers can take themselves: actions like signing petitions, donating to organizations listed on the page, right through to spreading the world via social media.

The reason I wanted to talk about I Am Jane Doe is twofold: firstly, because it impacted upon me so profoundly, I knew I wanted to spread the word. The second reason is that I Am Jane Doe highlights the fact that filmmakers can make a significant social impact. I Am Jane Doe goes beyond just being a documentary- it is a call to action.

Does that mean that only documentary material can make a social impact and create a movement outside the cinema? Not at all. Over the years of running Film Sprites PR we’ve seen films from filmmakers who have chosen to create a narrative around an issue they are passionate about. For instance, filmmaker Evan Kidd’s short film Displacement Welcomed talked about the reality of homelessness using a fictional scenario. If you’re passionate about an issue/cause and it is weaved into your story you have the ability to not only raise public awareness about the film itself, but about the issue/cause in your film’s narrative.

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So, what are some ways to achieve awareness of your film as well as the issue or cause you are championing?

Firstly, if you’re crowdfunding it’s a great idea to let people into your ‘why’. What drew you to this issue or cause in the first place? What do you hope your film will achieve in terms of public awareness around the issue? Is it something you have personal experience with? People who are passionate about the issue or concern your film talks about are likely to want to support your crowdfunding efforts, be it pre-production or post-production. On the I Am Jane Doe website’s press page, filmmaker Mary Mazzio has provided a powerful and honest director’s statement that is well worth reading.

You might also want to team up with charities, organizations and community groups that are relevant to your film. This could mean collaborating with an organization, charity or community group to organize special screening events, and finding out relevant statistics and information regarding your cause or issue that can be used in your press release and/or with social media posts.

Nowadays there are film festivals that cater to specialist subjects as well. From sustainability and architecture through to festivals that highlight feminist films and filmmakers, it’s worth doing your homework and seeing if there are specialist film festivals that would be ideal for your film.

If you’re looking for media coverage, don’t forget to take the ‘grassroots’ approach while sourcing media outlets to cover your film. Sometimes people forget that Facebook groups, newsletters and specialist blogs and podcasts are ideal for spreading the word. Have a film that would appeal to people who live an environmentally-conscious, sustainable lifestyle? See if you can have posters displayed for VOD or cinematic releases (and/or special screenings) in stores, cafes and restaurants that cater to sustainability, environmental consciousness and organic products/food.

When it comes to social media, think about creating a Street Team to help spread the word. You can set up a special private Facebook group and provide your Street Team with sample social media posts and graphics that can be used on their social media accounts. If possible, make sure you credit them in the film as a way of giving thanks.

There are so many ways to make a difference with your filmmaking, and the film itself is just the beginning. Happy filmmaking!

I Am Jane Doe is available via Netflix. ITunes, Vimeo, Google Play, Amazon and on DVD. Visit the website for more details.

 

Film Sprites PR: 2016 In Review

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It’s been a whirlwind of a year here at Film Sprites PR and we’ve had the pleasure of assisting so many wonderful filmmakers with publicity and digital marketing of their films at various stages of production. That being said, we want to take a look back at what the year was like for us. Grab a cuppa, sit back and find out what we got up to in 2016.

The year started for us with Life Off Grid, a Canadian documentary which explored the lives of Canadians who had chosen to build their lives around renewable energy. The film had a very special advanced screening at Academy Cinemas in Auckland, followed by a Q&A session with producer Phillip Vannini. Prior to the film we held a press junket so media could have a chat with Phillip.  You can read a great review of the film over at Cinemaddicts NZ.

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In February we rolled up our sleeves to assist with the Kickstarter for D.R Hood’s feature film THIS FAMILY. THIS FAMILY is the second feature film for writer/director D.R Hood, whose first feature Wreckers made its UK debut at the BFI London International Film Festival 2011, where it was nominated for best British debut. It would go on to win the Perspectives award at Moscow IFF 2012. Wreckers starred Shaun Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy. THIS FAMILY is currently in post-production and we’re tremendously excited about the future of the film. You can read an interview with D.R Hood over at the Turnabout Media website.

Speaking of crowdfunding campaigns, we also assisted Fall of the House Productions with their IndieGoGo campaign for Medusa’s Kitchen, the fourth short film in their Northern Line Series. The series is based around modern re-tellings of Greek myths and legends set along London’s Northern Line stations. It’s such a tremendously fun series and it was a delight to be able to help the team raise 101% at their crowdfunding campaign! You can see the first three films in the series here.

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Still from Into The Labyrinth from The Northern Line Series

Very recently we also had the great privilege of assisting young filmmaker Daphne Fischer with the Kickstarter for her short film Enough. We began providing digital marketing assistance for the campaign only 5 days away from the end of the campaign and by the end of the campaign the target of $6000 had not only been reached but a further $945 was raised. Enough aims to shed a light on the issues women face in regards to eating disorders and body image, so we were pleased to be able to assist a young female filmmaker to gain the funds she needed to make this story come to life.

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We have also had the great privilege of working with filmmakers we’ve worked with previously, continuing a great ongoing relationship where we could provide them with publicity and digital marketing of their films. We assisted Mad Shelley Films with the freeview month of their award-winning short film The Halloween Girl, and we are currently working on publicity and digital marketing for their up-coming limited series, Under The Flowers, which will debut January 15, 2017.

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We’ve also continued providing ongoing digital marketing and publicity for writer/filmmaker Oliver Park. His first short film, Vicious, continues to be a fan favourite and was even featured in this Buzzfeed article, 16 Terrifying Horror Movies You Can Watch in 20 Minutes or Less. His second short, STILL, has been on the film festival circuit this year, so watch this space for its public release in 2017!

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It was also great to provide digital marketing assistance to Adam Nelson’s short film Emotional Motor Unit. The film has been doing wonderfully at film festivals and has received glowing reviews.

Sometimes when it came to liaising with the media, it was us on the receiving end of interviews! This year Head Sprite Lynnaire was interviewed by Cinemaddicts NZ, Write Out of LA and the Young Women Entrepreneur’s Club. There are two new podcast interviews in the pipeline coming very soon.

2017 is going to be our third year of operation, and our biggest year yet. You can read about how we’re working to assist even more filmmakers in 2017 here.

A massive thank you to the media we connect with, the filmmakers we have the privilege of working with and supporting, as well as friends, family and supporters. We absolutely couldn’t do this without any of you and for that we’re grateful!

Film Sprites PR will be on summer vacation from December 14 2016 until January 14 2017.