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5th Annual Making Your Media Matter Conference 2009

Contact: Maggie Barrett, AU Media Relations, barrett@american.edu or 202-885-5951

WASHINGTON, D.C.(January 15, 2009)—Filmmakers, nonprofit communication leaders, new media developers, foundation executives, game developers, and other media makers will share their trade secrets for making media that matters during the Center for Social Media’s Making Your Media Matter 09’ conference.

What exactly is media that matters? According to Patricia Aufderheide, director of the Center for Social Media, media that matters is media designed to engage the public and create a social impact.
"Making media that matters means finding an interested audience, engaging its members, and encouraging them to take action on a given social issue," Aufderheide said. "Community and audience engagement has become a critical creative practice."

This is the fifth year that the center, part of American University’s School of Communication, has held the conference, which is for established and aspiring filmmakers, nonprofit communication leaders, funders, and students. It will be held Thursday, February 12 and Friday, February 13 in the Abramson Family Recital Hall in AU’s Katzen Arts Center.

Registration is $100 for nonstudents, $50 for students. To register or for more information, email the Center for Social Media at socialmedia (at) american.edu.

Conference speakers include a variety of filmmakers, activists, outreach specialists and media pioneers. Panel discussions address the latest tools and trends in creating and distributing social issue media. The list of speakers and schedule of events for 2009 is as follows:

Thursday, February 12

5:30 p.m. Introduction by Larry Kirkman, dean of AU’s School of Communication

5:50 p.m. Mini-keynote address: George Stoney on ethics in social-issue film

6:15 p.m. Keynote address: Gordon Quinn on the ethics of Cinema Verite

7:30 p.m. Reception

Friday, February 13

9:00 a.m. Registration and demos

10:00 a.m. Welcome and logistics

10:15 a.m. Panel discussion: Money and Mission

An in-depth look at the issue of funding social issue media and how to meet the demands of funders while also fulfilling the ethical needs of your mission.


• Danny Alpert, Executive Producer of See3 and Kindling Group

• Julie Goldman, founder of Cactus Three Films

• Alyce Myatt, Executive Director of Grantmakers in Film + Electronic Media

• Diana Barrett, founder of the Fledgling Fund

11:45 a.m. Announcements

11:50 a.m. "Birds of a Feather" lunch

"Birds of a Feather" lunch is a way to sign up for a theme or issue you would like to discuss before the conference, network online with people with similar interests, and meet for lunch to discuss that topic. You can sign up for your BOF group or create a new one on our networking site.

1:15 p.m. Raffle

1:30 p.m. Panel: Outreach and Connection

This panel will focus on the various ways that outreach and audience connection can be incorporated into social-issue media, and provide new approaches in measuring impact. Featuring:

• Andrew Mer of Snagfilms

• Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar, film makers of Made in LA

• Scott Kirsner, author of CinemaTech

• Wendy Levy, Director of Creative Programming of the Bay Area Video Coalition

3:00 p.m. Networking break

3:30 p.m. Panel: Art, Ethics, and Mission

What happens when you make a beautiful film about a dark subject? This panel will take a look at how to marry the ethics of media making with the aesthetic choices required to make powerful art. Featuring:

• Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine, film makers of War Dance

• Cara Mertes, Director of the Sundance Documentary Film Program

• Thomas Allen Harris, Director of Chimpanzee Productions

• Sky Sitney, Programming Director of SILVERDOCS

5:00 p.m. Reception

Until 2008, the conference was called Making Your Documentary Matter. Organizers decided to change the title to represent the intersection and collaboration of media makers in the expanding digital media landscape.
"Gaming, new media, and documentaries no longer stand as completely separate entities," Aufderheide said.

The change is happening quickly, but it is one that filmmakers and nonprofits should embrace, Aufderheide emphasized. Interactive media can serve to reach new audiences for filmmakers and enhance viewer participation–an outcome that will ultimately serve social causes and the public good.
"There is no easy map for the digital landscape but as new forms of technology emerge and mutate, we have to create a shared vision of a vigorous and inclusive public culture," said Larry Kirkman, dean of the School of Communication, during his opening remarks at the 2008 conference.

Making Your Media Matter reflects the focus on interactive and converged media and the commitment to public service and public affairs advocated by AU’s School of Communication. The school is a laboratory for professional education, communication research, and innovative production across the fields of journalism, film and media arts, and public communication. It is home to the Center for Social Media, as well as J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism, the Center for Environmental Filmmaking, and the Investigative Reporting Workshop.

Sponsors for the 2009 conference are as follows:
• Active Voice
• Arts Engine
• International Documentary Association
• Kartemquin Films
• Orphan Film Symposium
• See 3 Communications
• Women in Film and Video, Washington, D.C.
• Working Films