New kinds of collaborations are experimenting with ways to achieve greater, longer-lasting media impact. With today’s artistic talent, passion for equitable change, and new media technologies, there is an opportunity for all voices to be heard, to build capacity that ensures a multiplicity of perspectives, and to distribute media to the farthest corners of our planet.
At the 2019 Jackson Wild Summit, a session on impact models addressed different models for alliances. Exposure Labs presented an end-to-end approach to building impact where the film process and impact process are developed hand-in-hand from the inception of the project. Both parallel and interwoven, this “film + impact” model builds momentum in tandem, creating a stronger vision and result.
BBC presented a sweeping, macro-to-micro approach conceptualized at the outset of development for Blue Planet II. It was far more extensive than anything they had tried before and included new kinds of alliances to connect with different audiences. Reaching far beyond TV ratings and film festivals, they created strategies for policy/government, societal, and charitable impact; formed media partnerships with news outlets that could reach beyond the BBC audiences; and created spin-out content strands for educational and social media outlets. The combined global reach before, during and after the series was over 181 million, according to BBC producer Orla Doherty (as of September 2019).
The massive campaign of Blue Planet II is a blueprint for the many ways impact can be expanded through partnerships. Though few teams have the resources to orchestrate such a whale of an effort, it is possible to create significant impact with clear goals and strategic precision. Bag It, for example, has had over a decade of phenomenal success with a very small outreach team. Through grassroots and educational outreach, this film continues to be a catalyst for plastic bag reduction across the U.S. and elsewhere.
The complexity of the media landscape and increased opportunities to strategically target certain audiences have given rise to an impact media industry. In fact, the idea of dedicated impact producers is relatively new. It wasn’t until 2018 that the US Doc Producers Alliance created this official “Impact Producer” description in its crediting guidelines:
“We don’t want to be ‘extractivist’ filmmakers, but rather ones who work hand-in-hand with communities.”
–Director Clement Guerra, The Condor and the Eagle