Film as an Organizing Tool
BY: LISA SMITHLINE, Outreach Producer
How often have organizations focused on social change complained that the media is ignoring their story? In a media age dominated by celebrity trials and missing children, it is a constant battle to break through the noise. Brave New Films targets under-reported issues that are ripe for a larger audience with a simple model:
Make a film that can win people's hearts and minds.
Build a broad alliance in support of a worldwide grassroots film release.
Use media buzz, a multi-platform distribution plan and guerilla media strategy to reach as many people as possible with the film.
Activate the inspired and motivated to take action, strengthening our allies with an infusion of new energy to support each organization's long-term goals.
Film holds a unique and special place in American culture, and as such, provides the perfect tool to organizations looking to build popular support for social change.
Film breaks the ice, reaching people with a message in a non-threatening way. Inviting a co-worker to a screening, or mailing a DVD to a family member is something just about everyone is comfortable doing. Holding a protest sign comes later. Film educates by exposing complex issues in an entertaining and accessible way. This isn't homework. Film inspires and motivates people, turning emotions into action. Film galvanizes people and organizations with scattered messages by providing a cohesive, compelling narrative.
By spotlighting powerful and emotional personal stories seldom tackled by the media, film offers a much-needed outlet for people to listen up, speak out, and take the initiative for positive change. Organizations can host screenings and events, partner with other organizations, draw in larger audiences, broaden their reach, grow their organization and expand their work.
While would-be Hollywood blockbusters book thousands of theaters months ahead of time jockeying for the best opening weekend, we're booking thousands of churches, family businesses, schools, living rooms, community centers, and parking lots in a grassroots, guerilla-style film opening – supported by a national grassroots campaign demanding Wal-Mart become a responsible corporate citizen. "Premiere Week" will take place November 13-19th, 2005.
This is only possible with the incredible support of 150 grassroots organizations representing civil rights, social and economic justice, the environment, media fairness, civic groups, small business, labor, religious communities, and teacher and student groups. The goal is to create the narrative thread that ties these groups together – a bold and inspiring story that will motivate everyone to work together toward solutions – and we're making great progress.
Our organizing methods borrow from the old and new, utilizing both internet and traditional grassroots techniques. We reach out online, and we form and strengthen face-to-face relationships, giving legs to the online community and expanding and deepening our movement.
Since the film's announcement on June 1st, tens of thousands from all over the world have signed up here to help make the film, host screenings, donate money, or do a combination of these things. Thousands of screenings are in the works representing all 50 states and 19 different countries (and the list keeps growing), all of which will be unique local events including everything from potluck dinners to “drive-in” style screenings in local business parking lots. With the organizing help of our allies, we expect to have 7,000 screenings -- 1,000 each day of premiere week – creating one of the largest and most widespread organizing events in recent history.