The 10 week long Impact Lab is a hybrid of both in person and virtual events. The Opening Summit and Retreat will be held in person on the Haverford campus in June and August as bookends to the lab. The rest of the week. The remainder of the Lab will consist of (1) weekly virtual workshops focused on deepening shared understandings of impact producing models, strategies and skills, led by experts in the field of impact producing and (2) hands on project-based work with each film team, including a weekly remote report-back session for each team to highlight what they are working on, and any challenges they would like feedback on from the other teams.
Workshop topics will cover four major curricular areas: (A) Impact producing (B) Distribution (C) Cultural strategy, and (D) Social change strategies. Workshops will be led by experts in the field of documentary, impact producing, and social change.
Virtual workshops take place once a week and run for two hours. The first half of each workshop will consist of a presentation and Q&A, with an emphasis on case studies of Asian-American directed films. In the second half, participants will begin applying the principles and lessons they have learned to their own film impact work.
Virtual workshops will include Film Teams (including student fellows) and a wider cohort of A-Doc members including emerging impact producers and filmmakers with works-in-progress. Participation is required for all 8 weeks.
Week 1 – Impact 101 with Cecilia Mejia
Thursday May 26th, 2022
Impact Producing is an emerging field in the film industry that uses issue-driven films as catalysts to create social, political, or cultural change through advocacy and engagement. Just as films have producers to manage the creative and financial process from script to screen, they also increasingly need Impact Producers to take the film campaign from production to impact.
This comprehensive 101 will provide an overview on the essentials on impact producing for documentary films. The session will discuss best practices in impact producing by identifying key skills, goals, and understanding best theories and practices. Participants will learn the scope of work necessary for building allies and strong partnerships, creating and measuring successful campaigns, and transforming passion for social change into a viable career path. Participants will also learn different dynamics of change through structure and public policy practices.
Cecilia R. Mejia was born and raised in Brooklyn, a first-generation Filipino-American. She has worked in development for several non-profit organizations, including NGOs affiliated with the United Nations. She attended the State University of New York at Buffalo. She has a master’s degree in Public Administration and Affairs; and also completed the Columbia Business School’s Emerging Non-Profit Leaders Program. She’s worked with several grassroots organizations focusing on underrepresented communities, which lead to her working on a short documentary about the struggles of detained undocumented families, which jumpstarted her film career. She has produced a number of short films focusing on critical social impact issues like mental health and gender inequality. She’s won several awards as the lead producer of the upcoming Yellow Rose and Social Impact Producer of the award-winning doc Call Her Ganda. She serves as the creative lead on several other projects working on the creative, funding and social impact components of films. Cecilia is combining her love of film with the goal of focusing on social impact stories that inspire change, most specifically with under-resourced youth through her non-profit organization Art of Me as the Creative Director, helping students turn their stories into high- quality short films. She was recently featured in Forbes Magazine for her work.
Week 2 Impact Lab Summit
In person event
June 3-5, 2022
3-day intensive summit at Haverford that brings together 3 A-Doc film teams, students, community partners, and impact experts to support the creation of a robust impact strategy. Friday will entail a reception dinner, Saturday’s focus will be a Brain Trust, and Sunday will bring all of the information back together as guiding steps for the rest of the summer for film teams.
A key component of the summit is holding Brain Trusts for each film, an established strategy that brings together selected stakeholders such as issue experts and members of the affected community to watch film excerpts and offer important insights through discussion on the key issues, story, scenes, messaging, framing, and other aspects to inform impact strategy development for the film.
Week 3 – Activating Audiences with Megha Agrawal Sood
Thursday, June 16, 2022
This interactive session will dive into understanding who your audience is and exploring strategies to activate them. Throughout the group discussion we will review a few case studies, in addition to chatting through ways to identify and prioritize audience engagement based on insights from community partners and available resources.
Megha believes in the power of sharing stories and building unexpected collaborations to inspire action. She is a Director at Doc Society and leads the Climate Story Unit, a new initiative to support productions and impact campaigns of climate-themed stories across the globe. Megha’s previous work experience includes leading impact programming at the film company, Exposure Labs (Chasing Ice, Chasing Coral, The Social Dilemma), and helping purpose-driven organizations grow at the innovation firm, IDEO. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, and is based in Boulder, Colorado.
Learning Outcome: After this workshop participants will be able to have more clarity on who their target audiences are, and how that might influence their editorial decisions, partnerships and distribution terms
Breakout Format: 30 min film team based group discussion of questions and 30 min report back and discussion
Week 4 – Distribution Fundamentals with Karin Chien
Thursday, June 23, 2022
In this session, we will review specific items on the Distribution Advocates cheat sheet. This session will give filmmakers the space to consider sales and distribution priorities and to reach a realistic understanding of distribution and exhibition landscapes. Distribution Advocates works to collectively reclaim power for independent storytellers in the current systems of distribution and exhibition. We fight for radical transparency, rebalancing entrenched inequities and blazing a new, more interesting, accessible and inclusive way forward.
Karin Chien is an independent producer and distributor committed to bold voices and innovative forms that help build radical practices of ethical filmmaking. In 2022, Karin joined Louverture Films as a Partner and EVP and is working on a diversified slate in film, series, games and art installations. Karin is the recipient of the inaugural Cinereach Producing Award and the Piaget Independent Spirit Producers Award. She is a four-time nominee of the Independent Spirit Awards. Karin has produced 10 features starring women and people of color, including CIRCUMSTANCE (Sundance 2011 Audience Award), THE EXPLODING GIRL (Berlinale 2009) and THE MOTEL (Sundance 2005). Karin is the president and co-founder of Art & Action, a global production company specializing in shoots in Europe and Asia. Karin is the founder and president of dGenerate Films, the leading distributor of independent, contemporary Chinese cinema. Karin is the residency director of the Nevada City Film Festival Filmmaker Residency program, the only artist residency to focus on creative producers in film.
Week 5 – Distribution & Impact with Mia Bruno
Wednesday June 29, 2022
This class will go through the logistics of distribution and marketing, as they currently exist and how they are changing rapidly. This course will address the descriptions and nuances of an often difficult and evolving system, identify the various distribution and marketing players and their roles, and identify new opportunities that are arising in the distribution space. The course will be both informational and interactive, and filmmakers will have the opportunity to address their own specific goals, and the ways they can maintain control and shape a distribution plan that will be most effective for their individual films.
Mia Bruno is a distribution strategist, sales rep, and impact producer. Combining an expansive knowledge of film distribution with a unique skill for innovative marketing strategies, Mia thinks comprehensively about distribution and creates campaigns designed to elevate films in the marketplace and connect with audiences meaningfully. Mia provides transparency, education, and analysis on what is working so that filmmakers are equipped to make the best decisions for their films in pursuit of goals both financial and impact-based. Some of her recent clients include BEBA (NEON), AILEY (NEON), CODED BIAS (Netflix), and THE GAME CHANGERS (Netflix).
Week 6 – Impact Strategy & Case Study with PJ Raval
Thursday July 7, 2022
How does one build a tailored impact strategy to an individual film? What key factors and variables are needed when thinking about this plan as well as the longevity and practicality of a campaign. PJ Raval shares his past experience with Call Her Ganda, from the inception to completion.
Named one of Out Magazine’s “Out 100”, PJ Raval is a queer, first generation Filipino American filmmaker whose credits include TRINIDAD (Showtime), BEFORE YOU KNOW IT (American ReFramed, WORLD Channel), and CALL HER GANDA which broadcast on POV (PBS) in 2019 and won the 2020 NLGJA Association of LGBTQ Journalists “Excellence in Documentary Award” and was nominated for a Philippines Academy Award for Best Documentary and a GLAAD Media Award. PJ is the director behind the community video series Stories Within, a recent Gold House Gold Futures Challenge Award recipient, is a co-founder and board president of the queer transmedia arts organization OUTsider, and is an Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin. He serves on the leadership team of the Asian American Documentary Network (A-Doc) and is a Soros Justice Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, a member of the Producers Guild of America and Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.
Week 7 – Cultural Strategy with Sonya Childress
July 14th 2022
What role does culture play in shifting political and material conditions? What is the difference between culture change and narrative change? How does impact production fit within the longstanding field of cultural strategy? In this session, we will define key terms around cultural strategy, explore the vital role of culture in organizing efforts, and discuss case studies that illustrate the transformative power of documentary films. Film teams will have a chance to consider how their impact strategies can bolster culture, narrative, political or economic change efforts.
Sonya Childress co-directs the Color Congress, a national collective of majority people of color-led and serving organizations with programming aimed at centering and strengthening nonfiction storytelling by, for and about people of color across the United States and territories, with Sahar Driver. In her former role as Senior Fellow with the Perspective Fund she conducted initiatives that moved the documentary field towards equity, transparency and impact. Sonya spent twenty years leading high-profile impact and release campaigns at Firelight Media and Active Voice, training impact producers and advising countless filmmakers on their impact strategies. She is a board member of the Center for Cultural Power, a member of the Documentary Accountability Working Group, and was a 2015 JustFilms/Rockwood Fellow. Her writing has been commissioned for Documentary Magazine, SEEN Journal, Ford Foundation & MacArthur Foundation. Sonya is from Los Angeles (Tongva land), of Puerto Rican & African American descent, and a proud mother of two.
Week 8 – Impact Fundraising with Chi-Hui Yang
Thursday July 28, 2022
This session will explore best practices on how to define your impact plans and theory of change, and communicate these to funders. How a film makes impact or influence is not one size fits all – it is shaped by the context it is released in (political, cultural, fellow films), its form and analysis, and what the particular goals are of the filmmaker in relation to these factors. Defining and getting specific on what you want your film to do, and how you believe it will do this, is key to a successful campaign and to raising resources for it. This session will draw upon Ford Foundation’s granting work, and also workshop the projects participants are working on. Please come prepared to discuss what you hope your film will do, and how you believe it will do this.
Chi-hui Yang is a curator based in New York. He is currently Senior Program Officer for Ford Foundation’s JustFilms initiative. As a curator, he has presented programs such as: MoMA’s Documentary Fortnight, “Lines and Nodes: Media, Infrastructure, and Aesthetics” (2014, Anthology Film Archives) and “The Age of Migration” (2008, Flaherty Film Seminar). From 2000-2010 he was director of the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival.
Week 9 – Social Change and Organizing with Bianca Nozaki Nasser of 18Million Rising
Tuesday August 2, 2022
A large part of impact producing involves community organizing through different mediums. Media-based organizing is a collaborative process that utilizes media, art, and technology in creative ways to center community issues and create opportunities for individuals, communities, and groups to engage in solutions and actions. We organize to change the world and imagine new ones–transforming culture through creative media also reframes political education, engagement, and action. Media-based organizing has moved thousands of young people to take action together. In today’s digitally driven landscape, communities of color are using media-based organizing to build communities online and off, shift narratives and disrupt structures of power. In this session Bianca Nozaki-Nasser, Strategy & Creative Directory of 18 Million Rising, will discuss their successes and failures with utilizing media ecosystems, art and design, storytelling, and creative technologies to fuel community organizing, rapid response interventions, and political education.
Bianca Nozaki-Nasser is a Los Angeles (Tongva land) based multimedia artist, strategy & creative director, organizer, and educator. Bianca is the Strategy & Creative Director at 18MR, a national digital-first Asian American advocacy organization where she works on campaigns to mobilize over 170,000 members around social issues. She is a cofounder of the Antiracist Classroom (antiracistclassroom.com), Rad Organizing (radorganizing.com), and former core organizer at amwa (amwa.work). She has participated in several artist residencies including Activation Residency in New York and Level Ground in Los Angeles. Born and raised in Southern California to a Syrian-Lebanese father and Japanese American mother, her work has always been rooted in a social practice. Bianca uses visual and interactive media to understand, interrogate, and critique the ways gender, race, and culture are embedded into material objects, systems, and relationships.
Week 10 – Impact Lab Retreat + BlackStar Film Festival
In Person Event
Two day in-person retreat for film teams, student fellows, and mentors to come together in utilizing the knowledge they’ve gained over the summer to create a Report Out or Impact deck. This will coincide with the BlackStar Film Festival, where attendees will participate in Festival screenings and talks, followed by discussions amongst Lab participants.