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What Keeps Social Documentaries from Audiences--and How to Fix the Problem

A report and background documents on how to extend the working lives of social documentaries. What happens to U.S. social documentaries after they are first seen at a film festival or on television? Far too little--in spite of evidence of rising interest in the genre. Read the results of research and an expert convening on the topic and find out not only about the problems, but suggested solutions. Funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.


Digital Futures: A Need-to-Know Policy Guide for Independent Filmmakers

Digital FuturesDigital technology is transforming filmmaking. And policymakers are scrambling to catch up with the changes. What policies are good for independent filmmakers? What are the hot issues, and what are the positions that best support the creativity and diversity that independent filmmakers represent? Digital Futures: A Need-to-Know Policy Guide for Independent Filmmakers answers those questions with to-the-point answers.


In the Battle for Reality: Social Documentaries in the U.S.

What difference can a documentary make? This fact-filled report, with many case studies of successful strategic use of social documentaries, answers that question. The report, written by Center director Pat Aufderheide, analyzes conditions of production and use in four contexts: television channels, alternative media, community media, and nonprofit sponsored production. It also discusses current teaching practices about social documentary, and analyzes key policy issues affecting production of social docs.


Go to: In the Battle for Reality (PDF)

"Documentaries: Making an Impact," at the 25th IFP Market in New York City

Read how various organizations are making an "impact," which can mean many things. It is important to think about many channels and diverse audiences, and particularly the networks and infrastructure that exists today, upon which we can continue to build.


Ephemeral for no good reason: the waste of documentary and independent films

The wide availability of inexpensive and user-friendlier production tools has finally brought us closer to the long-deferred dream of mass moving image authorship. But while many (though not all) obstacles to production have crumbled, distribution problems are escalating.


Answers to Common Intellectual Property Questions for the Independent Documentary Filmmaker

Observance of intellectual property rights is necessary because failure to guarantee clearance may compromise the documentary's broadest possible distribution. To help relieve some of the attendant burdens and potential expenses that could incur for failure to comply with intellectual property clearance, the filmmaker should thoroughly and scrupulously explore available clearance alternatives. Three such alternatives, on which this memo focuses, are fair use, the public domain, and the Creative Commons.


Media and Metanoia: Documentary 'Impact' Through the Lens of Conversion

This paper considers case studies of three documentaries in terms of what new insights a conversion perspective brings to an understanding of their immediate and long-term impact. To do so, a range of research methods and data-gathering tools are employed: scholarly publications, memoirs, outreach materials, websites, video records of public events, and personal interviews.



Intellectual Property Issues for the Social-Issue Documentary Filmmaker

Cultural arts journalist Shari Kizirian provides an overview of intellectual rights issues--copyright, trademark, digital rights management--as they affect the creative work of filmmakers.


Collaborative Strategies for Social Action Filmmakers

This op-ed by Center Director Pat Aufderheide discusses the different forms that collaboration can take throughout the filmmaking process to benefit both the film and the community.  


Go to: Collaborative Strategies for Social Action Filmmakers (PDF)