Making My Media Matter!

Yesterday, I attended the Making Your Media Matter conference at American University. This is a gathering of filmmakers and nonprofit communications leaders who are in the business of producing social issue media.

Like journalists, documentary filmmakers are also seeing their industry being put to a challenge by Web 2.0. In fact, this conference was originally named Making Your Documentary Matter apparently, but it was changed to reflect the evolving multimedia landscape documentarians are faced with. But unlike some in the traditional journalism world, the folks attending this conference are actually embracing their inner new media evangelists.

Convergence was the word of the day.

Of course, getting funding to make a film is almost a full-time job in itself for documentarians. In a panel discussion on funding issues, Alice Myatt of the Grantmakers in Film and Electronic Media said that the organization has now simplified the money seeking process with an online media database where filmmakers can post clips of their unfinished project as a way to solicit funders to see their work and possibly give them money to complete the project.

Also, social media has provided new opportunities for films that would otherwise not get seen because their subject matters are deemed to be too controversial by funders and broadcasters.

On another panel, filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris said that he had a hard time getting out his first film, Vintage - Families of Value, which is about LGBT siblings in black families.

"It was rejected by black film festivals for being too gay and gay film festivals for being too black," he said.

Now his film will have a second life in the near future, both in the virtual movie theatre, SnagFilms, and on the Internet TV network Free Speech TV.

The filmmakers behind the acclaimed film, Made in LA, also gave examples of online grassroots organizing that contributed to the film's success.

Syndicated tech columnist Scott Kirsner as well as other filmmakers at the conference gave some great examples of how filmmakers can use new media for their projects.

Posterous – post anything online via email

Eventful – online marketing/fan targeting

Foneshow – subscribe to podcasts on your phone

Media That Matters - online film festival for social justice documentaries

Prx - online marketplace for distribution, review, and licensing of public radio programming

Mojoco - NBPC's latest outlet for mobile journalists to showcase their work

J-Lab - helps journalists and citizens use digital technologies to develop new ways for people to participate in public life

New Media Women Entrepreneurs - entrepreneurial opportunities for women new media pioneers

Witness/The Hub - uses video and online technologies to open the world's eyes to human-rights violations

Blogtalkradio - put on a free radio show to promote your film

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