Working Films builds partnerships between documentary makers and advocates to tackle the biggest issues of our time. We train and work with change leaders to use film to enhance their programs, extend their reach, and move their missions forward. We identify partners’ needs, work with them to select great media, and put it to work through screening tours, trainings, policy briefings, and in other strategic settings. Our approach prioritizes leadership in directly impacted communities and respects the interests of the people most affected by the issues at hand. 

ORGANIZING WITH FILM 

Working Films uses documentaries to increase civic engagement and shift culture at the state and local level. We work where there is tipping point potential for policy and regulatory change; where there is a need to reach beyond “the choir”; and where there are opportunities to set precedents and offer models for use in other states and at the national level. In the last two years alone, we’ve partnered with more than three hundred organizations to develop and launch film-driven organizing campaigns in Alabama, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. These efforts have informed and mobilized residents to address voter suppression and money in politics, fossil fuel and coal ash pollution, and immigrant rights. 

Our work is responsive and timely. As the nation faces rapid fire attacks on our systems of democracy, civil rights, and environmental protection, quick and creative methods are needed to inform and engage residents when sudden policy changes and unexpected events become a threat. Our media organizing initiatives are responsive to the urgent needs of our partners and resource them to employ documentary media quickly and effectively. Interviews and surveys with our partners overwhelmingly indicate that our work has built their constituent base; increased public comments at key regulatory and policy moments; helped grassroots campaigns win; strengthened intersectional coalitions; and forged tighter connections between advocates working in different geographies. 

FUNDING AND TECHNICAL SUPPORT

We offer consultation and technical support to filmmakers. Through Docs In Action, we offer funding and in-kind strategy to underrepresented filmmakers to help ensure media with great promise reaches its full potential. Additionally we offer a package of benefits and services to the filmmakers whose work is featured in our organizing campaigns, providing them consultation on the wider distribution and impact potential of their project. 

FIELD BUILDING

Working Films amplifies our impact by sharing our methodology and learning with change leaders and filmmakers. We showcase our work at film festivals and other documentary convenings and lead generative conversations to further the field of documentary for change. We are working to shift the culture of nonprofits and public institutions, so that nonfiction media is increasingly embraced as a critical resource and a natural component of what they do. We are also working to influence the way that documentary films are created, insisting on deep accountability to the subjects and communities featured, so that the media is best positioned to build power and incite change from the ground up.