a guest post by Allie Hoffman of Picture Motion

Two of this years’ biggest film + social action campaigns focused on women’s issues: Half the Sky* and 10×10 (now retitled, ‘Girl Rising’)*.  Both campaigns were conceptualized by media professionals with established reputations; Nick Kristof and Sheryl Wu Dunn launched the movement with their best-selling book; prior to that, Mr Kristof was a 2-time Pulitzer Prize winning NYT columnist. Kristof’s network of leaders – non-profit, country, international NGOs, celebs and change makers – is (likely) one of the largest.

The 10×10 campaign began at the Documentary Group, an offshoot of Peter Jennings’ production company. The Emmy-award winning leadership team had worked for decades within the world of broadcast media, which endowed the project with a devoted network of media, corporate and non-profit contacts.Both projects leveraged their contacts expertly. While we recognize these examples are extraordinary – and most independent documentary filmmakers are significantly less networked –  both campaigns evidence the power of  a diversified partnership strategy.

The table below dissects these partnerships across 6 categories:


Corporate Govt / Federal Funds Private Foundations UN Agencies Intl NGOs Local NGOs
10×10 Intel, google Vulcan UN Foundation (GirlUp) Plan, Global Campaign for Education, Room to Read Afghan Connection, A New Day Cambodia, Pratham,
Half the Sky Ikea, Coca Cola, Vagisil, Goldman Sachs, Nike USAID, National Endowment for the Arts Ford, MacArthur, Gates, Rockefeller UN Foundation World Vision, Save the Children,  CARE Nearly 30: Examples inc Edna Adan Maternity Hospital, GEMS, Umoja Womens’ Village


By targeting many different types of organizations – and creating numerous partnerships within each category – the campaigns were exponentially strengthened.

Getting organizations on board to engage in meaningful partnership with your film can be an epic challenge; the large ones are slow moving, and the small ones are limited in their scope.  All this being true, progress can be expedited by employing these tactics:

Research. Understand the organization’s program areas and its communications infrastructure. Conduct extensive research on relevant, direct contacts. Gather all the info in a spreadsheet. We often find the following helpful:

  • Take a quick glance at any non-profit’s IRS 990 forms to understand size and financial resources
  • Review the facebook page to understand their digital engagement capacity
  • Download Annual Reports to glance programs, and leadership
  • Pull press releases for direct contact info, if you cant find it anywhere else – its almost always there!

Create goals. Create a list of possible areas for collaboration, with the greatest opportunities for the film at the top. Think BIG.

Consider your timing; often organizations are slow-moving when it comes to establishing partnerships like this, and it can take weeks – if not months – to see results. As such, try to avoid approaching potential partners 2 weeks before your launch/premiere, etc. Make it clear to them they’re an integral part of your campaign by approaching them 6-8 weeks before any campaign milestones.

Align interests + communicate your goals. Clearly communicate how the partnership will help you meet your campaign goals, what you need from the partner, and how it’s in their interest to partner with you. Articulate all the ways the partner organization might benefit. Be willing to compromise. Log all these ideas into your spreadsheet.

Make it official. As much as possible, create a simple agreement that outlines what the organization has said they would do, and what your team has committed to doing. Log all these commitments into your spreadsheet.

Track results. Every mention in newsletters, on facebook pages, every time the organization hosts a screening – log it in your spreadsheet. Also record the number of people within the organization’s communications network. In other words, how many people received that newsletter? How many facebook likes? How many people at the screening? All this information quantifies your campaign’s reach, and overall impression.

Learn more

Other film campaigns that created issue-specific, numerous, dynamic and engaged partnerships:




We look forward to feedback below. Email me at allie@picturemotion.com with any direct inquiries.

About the Author

Allie Hoffman is Director of Communications at Picture Motion, where she manages partnership development for the agency’s film + social action campaigns. Current projects include Beauty is Embarrassing and First Generation.

*editors notes

Half the Sky is a landmark transmedia project featuring a four-hour PBS primetime national and international broadcast event, a Facebook-hosted social action game, mobile games, two websites, educational video modules with companion text, a social media campaign supporting over 30 partner NGOs, and an impact assessment plan all inspired by Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, the widely acclaimed book by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

Girl Rising is the feature-length film at the center of 10×10’s global action campaign for girls’ education. The film reveals the extraordinary stories of girls from around the globe, fighting to overcome impossible odds on the road to realizing their dreams of education. Directed by Academy Award nominated documentary director Richard E. Robbins, Girl Rising tells the stories of 10 girls from 10 countries, selected in consultation with 10 acclaimed women writers, working closely with non-profit partners.

December 5th, 2012

Posted In: Community partnership, education, Marketing

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by Sheri Candler

As this is the beginning of a new school year for universities and film schools, it might interest you to know that several film and media courses are opening up their syllabi to the outside world. They aren’t just offering a public facing course description, but actually posting the assignments for their students and the reading materials being used in the class so that all may follow along regardless of where you are. No, isn’t the same thing as receiving one on one attention in class, but then again that’s a reason to pay tuition.

It is also interesting to see what tools instructors are using to communicate with students from wikis to Twitter to LiveJournal and Blogger to something I’d never heard of, Elgg, an open source social networking platform.

The following instructors are all on the cutting edge of the issues facing filmmakers right now; not the cameras or editing equipment or scriptwriting or film history, but the changing landscape of the business of entertainment and what it means to be an artist in the 21st century.




Columbia University Film Program

“Building StoryWorlds: the art, craft and biz of storytelling in 21c” taught by Lance Weiler (@lanceweiler on Twitter)

If you have been keeping up at all with latest trend in entertainment, you have probably heard the term Transmedia Storytelling. It was coined by MIT, now USC, professor Henry Jenkins in 2003 to describe  the technique of telling a single story or story experience across multiple platforms and formats using current digital technologies. Filmmaker Lance Weiler describes himself as a story architect, someone who creates not one linear tale, but an entire world for his characters to live in and for audiences to participate with them.

In his Columbia course, students and global collaborators will work together to  design, build, and produce an immersive storytelling experience. The whole process will be openly documented and released under a creative commons license in an attempt to gain a better understanding of what goes into creating immersive storytelling experiences.

To join in, follow this course curriculum and check his website Building Storyworlds to keep up with the happenings.



University of Central Florida Graduate course “Guerilla Film Marketing” taught by Randy Finch (@randyfinch on Twitter)

This is a graduate seminar about grass roots and non-traditional marketing strategies for film and media products. The emphasis is on unconventional and microbudget interactions with consumers. During the course, students will become familiar with how the new digital economy and social media tools are changing the landscape for filmmakers and other media producers in the twenty-first century. He requires the students to  blog about guerrilla marketing and create materials that they might actually use to market their own films or other media projects.

As Randy told me “I am fascinated by the possibilities for New World film education online. It’s a large part of why I blog. In addition to making my own syllabi and assignments available online, occasionally I even write a post exploring how film education might evolve.”

For a look at the syllabus, use this Google Doc and read Randy’s blog for homework assignments.


Brown University

“Open Source Culture” taught by Mark Tribe (@marktribe on Twitter)

This course utilizes a wiki to disseminate the information. Where do we draw the line between sampling and stealing? What does it mean to call a urinal a work of art? This course explores the tension between artistic appropriation and intellectual property law, and considers recent efforts to use open source software as a model for cultural production. With the advent of digital culture spreading across the world at momentary speed, artists today need to be aware of the changing laws, consumer attitudes and ways in which creativity and communication are happening online. These changes affect business models in many industries, but very much in the entertainment industry where there have been attempts to curb audience access to online content deemed infringing on intellectual property.

For a look at the syllabus, go to this wiki page.


This one was taught in 2010 and I don’t know the status of it now, but the syllabus still lives online…


Georgia Tech

“Digital Media and Participatory Culture” taught by Melanie E.S. Kohnen, Ph.D (@_mesk on Twitter)

The course is an exploration of how digital media is used to participate in various aspects of contemporary culture. Examinations of social networks on the internet specifically matters of privacy, identity, and community formation. Also covered, how digital media is used to participate in culture with a focus on remixing, mash-ups, digital video production, and other forms of transforming existing media texts and how copyright regulations impact remix cultures. 

For a look at the syllabus and reading materials, go to this online pdf. Even if the class isn’t actively being taught, there is so much one can do self directed.

If you like the look of that course, you may be interested in these on fan fiction and remix culture, .

If anyone would like to point out other film and media courses geared toward the 21st century filmmaker/artists being taught in an open method, please leave them and their URLs in the comments section.



September 13th, 2012

Posted In: education

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