Empowering Media That Matters


Honest Truths: Documentary Filmmakers on Ethical Challenges in Their Work


Honest TruthsThis study provides a map of perceived ethical challenges that documentary filmmakers—directors and producer-directors—in the United States identify in the practice of their craft. It summarizes the results of 45 long-form interviews in which filmmakers were asked simply to describe recent ethical challenges that surfaced in their work. This baseline research is necessary to begin any inquiry into ethical standards because the field has not yet articulated ethical standards specific to documentary.


Go to: Honest Truths (PDF)

Code of Best Practices for Sustainable Filmmaking

Welcome to the Code of Best Practices in Sustainable Filmmaking. This site currently contains the Code’s Principles (see below) as well as its checklists, carbon trackers, and Web resources. These may be downloaded from the Code. We are working to create an independent website for this project, where we will provide comprehensive and interactive resources for those interested in sustainable filmmaking. 


The View from the Top: P.O.V. Leaders on the Struggle to Create Truly Public Media

POVOn the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the groundbreaking PBS documentary series P.O.V., the Center for Social Media interviewed several of those who have led the project through its last two decades on the goals, challenges, and the vision for one of television's most productive sites for imagining and innovating the future of public media.


The New Deal: Version 1.5, Monetizing and Mission

The Center's annual report on the nuts and bolts of digital distribution deal-making. Curious about who's making these deals? Average percentages for independent filmmakers? Average license periods? All of this and more in this highly-anticipated new publication.


Documentaries on a Mission: How Nonprofits Are Making Movies for Public Engagement

How should we measure the “social impact” of a documentary film? This essay reviews several ways to conceptualize and evaluate “impact,” drawing on previous research in communication, sociology, and political science, as well as case studies. Read about how the Sierra Club, The American Civil Liberties Union and local environmental groups use documentaries for high-impact action.


Go to: Documentaries on a Mission (PDF)