This year's Making Media Now was held on Friday, May 6th at Bentley University. The theme for the conference was "Re-defining Collaboration in a Fractured Media World." Beyond just focusing on "new trends," the organizers and speakers did a wonderful job exploring the experimentation, the confusion, the inspiration, and the challenges of this current moment in media making.
There are a number of panels and addresses I could point to that made this day a good opportunity for thinking about what's now and what's next. But the one I'd like to call out is an outreach campaign case study looking at the "open source documentary" project Lunch Love Community.
The panel included filmmaker Helen De Michiel (who is collaborating with Sophie Constantinou on this project) and Sheila Leddy from the Fledgling Foundation, a project funder.
The Lunch Love Community Documentary Project explores a
community-based school lunch reform movement in Berkeley, CA. On their website, they offer a mosaic of short films on the movement and the people who make it go; that audiences can look at, learn from, and use for free. In fact, they encourage you to take the material, spread the word, and help the engagement campaign grow.
The project is designed to be a long-form feature film, an educational/engagement website, and a series of short films. Helen spoke about this approach on the panel and she said that "the story was moving faster than the long form film." For Helen and her team, the webisodes were a solution that advanced their social media campaign goals more efficiently and more quickly than their feature doc could.
With so much focus on outreach, the website and the short films, it's no surprise that the feature doc is still in the works. But through this campaign, they are creatively merging documentary methods with the strengths of the web and are able to both get their message out more quickly and build an audience (and anticipation) for the feature. And in the end, I think the feature will end up being not only an engagement tool of its own, but a way to draw attention to all they have going on online.
Helen mentioned that they are still looking for funding to finish the long-form piece, while the online campaign has been easier to find funding for. This too says a lot about our current moment.
Helen is blogging about this experience on the Lunch Love Community website. I encourage you to check it out. With so many experiments in media making and distribution happening right now, it's wonderful that Helen is providing this level of transparency about their process for us all to learn from!