Impact 101 with Cecilia Mejia

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.

Impact Strategy Summit

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. 

Virtual Workshops

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.

Impact Lab Retreat + BlackStar Film Festival

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.