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Media That Matters 2015: Agenda

Tools of the Trade

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Online registration is now closed, but onsite registration will be available both days. 

American University is committed to providing accessible programs and services.

For accommodations, contact asac@american.edu.


Community Partners
Public TV Panel



IDA      WIFV       

Active Voice     

Indie Caucus   NBPC       


Independent Lens      POV

Interested in becoming a sponsor? Download our Sponsorship & Marketing Opportunities booklet and choose the package that best suits your needs. 


Community Partners

AIR @AIRMedia - A vibrant production network of media makers from across the US and the world.

BAVC @BAVC - Inspiring social change by empowering media makers to develop & share diverse stories.

Docs in Progress @docsinprogress - Non-profit org which empowers and connects independent documentary filmmakers.

George Mason University Film and Video Studies @FAVS_GMU - Film and Video Studies (FAVS) at George Mason University is a multidisciplinary program emphasizing personal growth within a vibrant cinema culture.

Meridian Hill Pictures @meridianhillpix - An innovative production company dedicated to producing, teaching, and sharing documentary films that inspire meaningful community participation and engagement.

Media Rise @MediaRiseNow Elevating media for social good.

Producers Guild of America - National Capital @PGAonthehill - The Producers Guild of America represents, protects and promotes the interests of all members of the producing team in film, tv & new media.

Stone Soup Films @stonesoupdc - Helping non-profits tell better stories through film.

Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program @sundancelabs - We are a hard working nonprofit organization dedicated to the development of new artists and audiences.

Working Films @workingfilms - Linking nonfiction film with cutting-edge activism


THURSDAY, FEB. 19, 2015 

ParkingPay-by-the-hour self-parking is available in the garage beneath the SIS building, located on Nebraska Ave NW. The garage can be accessed from the intersection of Nebraska Avenue NW and New Mexico Avenue NW. Parking is limited so plan to arrive early. Parking is free after 5pm.


1:30 - 2:30PM

American University
4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW 
Washington, DC 20016

ParkingPay-by-the-hour self-parking is available in the garage beneath the SIS building, located on Nebraska Ave NW. The garage can be accessed from the intersection of Nebraska Avenue NW and New Mexico Avenue NW. Parking is limited so plan to arrive early. Parking is free after 5pm.

Choose 1 of 2 (both last the full hour):

Measuring the Impact of Social Cause Advertising

LOCATION: School of International Service Building, Room 300


Social Cause advertising sometimes is described as working for the "light side". As social cause advertisers, we get to promote positive, healthful, and sustainable behavior change and advocate for causes that change the world. But, how do we know if our behavior change public communications work is actually making a difference? This panel will discuss measuring the impact of social cause advertising. Participants will take on perspectives from the professional and the academic world to understand the current trends in social cause advertising measurement. The moderated discussion will reflect on the history of measurement in the area, what is cutting edge, and how it works in practice. 

Moderator: Pilar McKay, Ph.D., Professor of Public Communication, American University School of Communication


Dangerous Docs: How to Lower Your Risk Making High-Impact Documentary 

LOCATION: Mary Graydon Center Building, Room 247


What kinds of risks do filmmakers and journalists face when they tell truth to power? How can they protect themselves from smear campaigns, surveillance, lawsuits, and harassment from big government or big money? What should funders and organizations do to support them better? Be the first to get a copy of the latest report from the Center for Media & Social Impact, the MacArthur-Foundation-funded "Dangerous Docs: Lowering Risk when Telling Truth to Power." Meet some of the smart people who contributed to it, learn the main points, and share your own experience.

Moderator: Pat Aufderheide, Director, Center for Media & Social Impact


Media Impact Tools Showcase: Meet the Experts

3:00 - 5:00pm
Mary Graydon Center Room 200

The Impact Tools Showcase is one stop shopping for the media maker who wants real, practical information on available tools and services. Hear what a distinguished line-up of media impact strategists has to offer independent media makers. A lightening round of presentations will be followed by the chance to mix and mingle and gather details on what you find most useful. Find the expert who meets your needs, get the specifics and schedule follow ups. Stick around to celebrate your newfound knowledge at our reception immediately following.


Jessica Clark, Dot Connector Studio

Laura Lo Forti, Harvis / A Fourth Act

Jennifer MacArthur, Impact ProducersBorderline Media

Molly Murphy, Working Films

Ellen Schneider, Active Voice

Linnea Hartsuyker, StoryPilot / Harmony Institute

Sharan Sklar, OVEE / ITVS

Emily Verellen, Fledgling Fund



4:30 - 6:00pm
Mary Graydon Center Room 200


Public TV and Independent, Point-of-View Documentary

Malsi Doyle & Michael Forman Theater, 2nd Floor,
McKinley Building, American University

Parking: Parking is free after 5pm. If you arrive before 5pm, Pay-by-the-hour self-parking is available in the garage beneath the SIS building, located on Nebraska Ave NW. The garage can be accessed from the intersection of Nebraska Avenue NW and New Mexico Avenue NW. Parking is limited so plan to arrive early. 

In partnership with WIFV, Docs in Progress, The D-Word, International Documentary Association, CINE, Indie Caucus, TIVA-DC, Film and Video Studies George Mason University, Georgetown University Film and Media Studies Program, The Documentary Center GWU, West End Cinema, Investigative Reporting Workshop, Howard University School of Communications, National Black Programming Consortium & Center for Asian American Media 

6:30 - 8:00pm
Malsi Doyle & Michael Forman Theater
2nd Floor, McKinley Building

Does public TV need independent and underrepresented voices? Do independent and underrepresented voices need public TV? When WNET contemplated moving Independent Lens and POV off the prime-time schedule in December, it triggered a nation-wide protest. WNET and PBS restored the series to the schedule until May, and promised to hold a listening tour. At this public hearing, viewers, organization heads, and filmmakers talk with public TV executives. Join them!


Moderator: Melissa Houghton, WIFV
Kevin Harris, WETA
Byron Hurt, Indie Caucus
Simon Kilmurry, POV
Ivana Jackson, WHUT
Marie Nelson, PBS
Lesley Norman, WNET
Rick Schneider, WETA
Andy Shallal, Busboys and Poets
Joseph Tovares, CPB
Noland Walker, ITVS


FRIDAY, FEB. 20, 2015

Conference: Tools of the Trade

Abramson Family Recital Hall
Katzen Arts Center
American University

4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW 
Washington, DC 20016

ParkingPay-by-the-hour self-parking is available in the garage beneath Katzen Arts Center, located on Massachusetts Ave. Parking is free after 5pm. Parking is limited so plan to arrive early.


Check-In + Bagel Breakfast

Welcome & Announcements


Engaging Hearts, Minds and Actions: Exploring the Foundation & Future of Storytelling for Social Change

Over the past decades, documentary and entertainment storytelling have been used to compel attitude and behavior change in crucial social issues, from human rights to global poverty and other public health issues. And for these particular projects – “designed” for social change – ideas of strategic design and evaluation matter alongside the storytelling itself, even though the narrative reigns supreme. From a 1960s soap opera in Peru that may have started it all, to a new documentary that leverages stand-up comedy to wake people up to global poverty, social-change-designed stories may differ in their exact narrative approaches, but they share common blueprints. Involving elements of strategic design, storytelling that sparks empathy, and the appropriate evaluation strategies that can “tell the story” about social impact, Caty Borum Chattoo brings in the many traditions of this work to break it down: Entertainment-education and narrative persuasion, a close look at how audiences are mentally transported into stories (and why it matters for social change), and telling stories about the stories that have worked to change hearts and minds. Her talk will establish the foundation of this tradition, which connects to the evaluation strategies that work, culminating with a look toward the future of storytelling and documentaries for social change. 

SPEAKER: Caty Borum Chattoo, Center for Media & Social Impact

Impact Design: From Production to Measurement

How do we make impact design and assessment an integral part of the production process? Filmmaker and professor Brigid Maher discusses the role of impact design in her upcoming feature documentary "Mama Sherpas," and introduces us to leaders in social impact through journalism, interactive media and public purpose gaming. Learn from a diverse group of media makers what they recommend for incorporating impact design into cutting edge productions and paving the way for successful impact assessment.

MODERATOR: Brigid Maher, Associate Professor, School of Communication; Director, "Mama Sherpas"


Dana Chinn, Media Impact Project

Luisa Dantas, Land of Opportunity

Benjamin Stokes, Games for Change

Shout Outs

Introduce yourself! 

Networking Lunch

The Fair Use Transformation

Stories of Impact

All star producers share their stories of success, heartache and impact in a conversation led by longtime documentary producer and strategist Caty Borum Chattoo (Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, The After Party, Stand Up Planet). Our guests have worked on some of the most influential social impact documentaries of late including Girl RisingAmerican Promise and Cesar's Last Fast. Find out what went wrong, what went right, what were the goals and what were the results. Commiserate with fellow filmmakers who have been in the trenches and get inspired by stories of empowerment and change.

MODERATOR: Caty Borum Chattoo, Executive in Residence, School of Communication; Executive Producer, "Stand Up Planet;" Creative Director, CMSI


Joe Brewster, "American Promise"

Jody Gottlieb, Vulcan Productions

Richard Ray Perez, "Cesar's Last Fast" & Sundance Institute

Networking Break

Media Impact as a Fundraising Tool

Without funding social impact media would never get off the ground, but where's the intersection between impact design and your fundraising strategy? Pat Aufderheide, fearless leader of CMSI for 14 years, brings us perspectives from funder and producer alike. Learn how social impact strategy can enhance your fundraising technique. What do major funders look for? What are are your fundraising strategies outside of foundation grants?

MODERATOR: Pat Aufderheide, University Professor, School of Communication; Director, CMSI


Jennifer MacArthurImpact ProducersBorderline Media

Lauren Pabst, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Emily Verellen, Fledgling Fund


Closing Reception