For a documentary film to make a difference, a solid strategy for audience engagement and strong partnerships are key. Filmmakers often lack time to do this work themselves or the expertise and the funds to pay for it. Emerging filmmakers, creators of color, and underrepresented artists can face the biggest hurdles, despite the potential of their projects. Working Films’ response to this challenge is Impact Kickstart, a program offering in-kind partnership and strategy development to underrepresented documentary directors with feature films in progress that hold great promise to catalyze action to address critical issues of our time.
Now in its fourth year, the Impact Kickstart program has helped underrepresented filmmakers create strategic goals for impact and specific plans to engage future partners, funders, and audiences in meaningful ways. Impact Kickstart was created to fill a gap in support for the impact campaigns of underrepresented filmmakers, including directors who identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or people of color (BIPOC), undocumented, LGBQ+, nonbinary, disabled, and female directors with a majority female and/or underrepresented film team.
Two films will be selected for Impact Kickstart in 2021. Each selected filmmaker will receive an Impact Kickstart from Working Films this year. This includes the planning, facilitation and reporting out from a day-long strategy summit with potential partners and funders. This summit will leave filmmakers well positioned to carry out an impact campaign with a clear strategy, goals, partners and a report that can be used for engaging supporters. Impact Kickstart recipients will also receive impact campaign funding of at least $25,000.
The deadline for Impact Kickstart 2021 is Monday, March 22 at 11:59pm EST. To apply, complete our online application using Submittable. You’ll create a quick login so that you can work on your application and have your information saved. Applicants will be notified as to the outcome of the selection process in mid-May 2021. Before you get started you can find a preview of the application questions in this PDF. Please also check out this document of frequently asked questions. If you have any additional questions, join us for a webinar Q&A on Tuesday, February 23, 2 – 3 pm ET. Register for that here! If you can’t attend, we will be recording it and posting it to this page. If you have any additional questions in the meantime, please email Gerry Leonard at firstname.lastname@example.org
Working Films strives to make all of our events and programs accessible, including our application processes. To request an accessibility accommodation or adjustment, please email email@example.com, or call us at 910-342-9000.
About Impact Kickstart
For nearly two decades, Working Films has planned and led strategy summits to inform the plans for impact campaigns and solidify partner commitments. Our team works in collaboration with filmmakers to outline priorities including: vision, outcomes, potential partners, priority audiences, strategic screening locations, and opportunities for meaningful action. From there, we work with filmmakers to create an invite list of aligned organizations, build out an agenda, and coordinate the logistics of the strategy summit. Both the film team and attendees will walk away from the summit with a clear sense of each other’s goals, current and future opportunities to leverage the film, and commitments to move the impact campaign forward in priority locations and in front of key audiences.
- Film directors must identify as an underrepresented artist. We define “underrepresented” as directors who identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or people of color (BIPOC), undocumented, LGBQ+, nonbinary, disabled, and female directors with a majority female and/or underrepresented film team.
- This opportunity is open to filmmakers with feature length documentaries or multi-part series in late production, post-production, or recently completed (within the last year) that address issues of social or environmental justice.
- We will accept film projects completed within the last year as we take into account the impact of COVID-19 and filmmakers’ abilities to carry out their impact campaigns. We will accept films that were completed from January 2020 to now.
- Films may feature stories from anywhere in the world, but the applicant must be living in the United States and planning an impact campaign to be carried out in the U.S.
- Filmmakers must be prepared for the preparation, planning, and implementation of the impact strategy summit to take place between June and September 2021. This does not mean that your film must be complete in this time period, but that you are willing to engage in impact campaign strategy development.
The selection for Impact Kickstart will based on:
- The catalytic potential of the story to address the biggest issues of our time.
- The clarity of the film’s vision and goals towards its impact.
- The strength of the film’s plan to engage organizations and other allies working on issues connected to your project (current partners and/or prospective partners).
- The timeliness of the topic.
- The filmmaker’s personal connection to the story and the level of accountability to the people and communities featured in the film.
- The need for Impact Kickstart. We prioritize under-resourced projects.
In all of our work, we prioritize amplifying and increasing support for underrepresented artists, as well as those who work in deep accountability with the individuals and communities featured in their films. We recognize that being accountable includes the work of dismantling the dominant culture and approach within documentary filmmaking and storytelling. As part of Impact Kickstart 2021, we will consider the following as part of our selection process:
- Film projects that address a wide range of issues and themes, but have a social justice focus as part of the film’s vision and goals.
- Films that have various ways to describe what “impact” means for the individuals and communities that are featured.
- Films that highlight different strategies and tactics to leverage the power of documentary film and storytelling, that includes policy advocacy, grassroots organizing, healing justice, transformative justice, etc.
- Films that are nonlinear and abstract that do not follow traditional storytelling methodologies.
- Films at different points of their strategy for the film’s impact campaign.
- Films with different levels of goals and outcomes they hope to accomplish with their impact campaign.
- Films that address issues at the local, state or national level.
The selection process will transpire through a panel process that includes Working Films staff and board members who reflect the eligibility section of this award, as well as previous Impact Kickstart award recipients. We commit to acknowledging our power and privilege throughout this process, as well as our own subjectivity and biases when reviewing projects. We recognize that this kind of decision-making is never completely objective and we will challenge and examine our own perspectives in the selection process.
The deadline for Impact Kickstart 2021 is Monday, March 22 at 11:59pm EST. To apply, complete our online application using Submittable. You’ll create a quick login so that you can work on your application and have your information saved. Applicants will be notified as to the outcome of the selection process in mid-May 2021. Before you get started you can find a preview of the application questions in this PDF. Please also check out this document of frequently asked questions. We also held a webinar about the program and application, that you can watch below. If you have any additional questions in the meantime, please email Gerry Leonard at firstname.lastname@example.org
Otherwise, click APPLY NOW to submit your application!
To read highlights of our work with past Impact Kickstart recipients click the link below, and visit our main Impact Kickstart page to see a list of all of our past Impact Kickstart recipients.