The charge that ignited our passion 17 years ago remains unchanged and can best be summed up by a challenge from our founding board member George Stoney: “What will you do when the lights come up?” We ran with this challenge and the privilege of pursuing work we love. Film by film we have forged best practices for linking great nonfiction storytelling to strategic grassroots organizing, while always focusing on the impact on the issues. Over the years our goal has remained the same: leverage the power of story-driven documentary to catalyze social change for equity and justice.


IMPACT: a series of stories about films making change.

How do social issue documentary films do more than just raise awareness? Are you a documentary filmmaker looking for the formula to take your film to the next level? IMPACT is a new series of videos created by Working Films and The Fledgling Fund focused on building film campaigns that ignite social change.

Including Samuel: The Power of Youth

Including Samuel: The Power of Youth brings us behind the scenes of a youth summit, inspired and co-organized by the film Including Samuel, to create an arm of the audience engagement campaign that is teen led and teen focused. What materializes is the “I am Norm” campaign, a youth-led campaign for the full social and educational inclusion of people with disabilities. This national campaign, launched in 2010, has extended the life and reach of the film. The creation of this peer-to-peer campaign demonstrates how to empower youth in a way that is truly participatory and meaningful.

Deep Down: Make it Local

How do you make your documentary film resonate with local audiences and issues? How do you build a bridge between community activist groups and the movements in your film? Watch how Deep Down’s film team are bringing together grassroots leaders from Appalachia with community leaders from across the country engaged in similar struggles.

Deep Down’s protagonist Beverly May, co-director Jen Gilomen, and outreach director Lora Smith traveled to Chicago for an ITVS Community Cinema Screening partnered with members of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO). The group toured the Little Village neighborhood, a community known as “The Midwest Mexico,” to learn about their struggle to fight the abuses of several toxic industries including two massive coal powered power plant that are poisoning their air and people.

No Impact Man: Activating Your Audience

How do you create an audience engagement campaign that is unique, yet has ties to a movement that already exists? Gillian Caldwell, Campaign Director of 1Sky, puts it simply when speaking about their partnership with No Impact Man, “It’s important that the relationship be reciprocal.”

No Impact Man: Activating Your Audience illustrates the benefits of mutually beneficial relationships and demonstrates creating opportunities for participation that extends the story beyond the film. Find out how the film No Impact Man and its partners, like 1Sky, worked together to move participants from individual action to collective action.

Assessing Impact: A Funder’s Perspective

Assessing Impact: A Funder’s Perspective is the first video in our series. It features our partner The Fledgling Fund and gives you an insider’s look at how to assess the impact of a film, its distribution and related campaign. Founder Diana Barrett and Executive Director Shelia Leddy discuss the impact of Born into Brothels and Ghosts of Abu Ghraib. You’ll get a close look at how these films supported the social change goals of their partner organizations and how they were tied to urgent actions. Diana and Sheila also lead you through their foundation’s transformation into one of the leaders in the field of supporting creative media and audience engagement.

Campaign Spotlight: Working Films Impact Stories

As putting films to work for social change catches on, everyone is looking for ways to capture the impact that they are making in communities and on the world. Since 2002, we have partnered with filmmakers and organizers on campaigns focused on championing environmental, economic and racial justice. Read our stories below.


Pray the Devil Back to Hell: Tying a Theatrical Release to On-the-ground Efforts

Working Films partnered with the filmmakers, Gini Reticker and Abigail E. Disney, of Fork Films, and Auburn Media to lead a collective effort during the theatrical release of Pray the Devil Back to Hell. Our commitment began in NYC and was followed with screenings in Washington DC, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle.

Blue Vinyl: Eliminating Poison Plastic

The My House is Your House campaign, directed by Working Films from 2002 to 2008 was aimed at eliminating the production and consumption of PVC plastic through community action initiatives developed around the film Blue Vinyl. The film has become a significant part of a global movement to replace PVC with safer, healthier and more environmentally sustainable alternatives.

Ghosts of Abu Ghraib: A Campaign to Stop Torture

The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib campaign was a national community engagement and action initiative, directed by Working Films from 2007 to 2009, aimed at mobilizing citizens to help stop U.S. sponsored torture.

Everything’s Cool: Building the Movement for a Green and Just Future

The Everything’s Cool campaign was a two-year national campaign aimed at engaging communities to take action on climate change with the goal of building a green and just future. Working Films directed the campaign, from late 2006 through late 2008, in partnership with grassroots organizations at the forefront of the climate action movement – from those coordinating national days of action and putting political leadership on the spot, to those raising young voices against the climate crisis and demanding a green energy economy that will provide jobs and advancement for low-income people.

New Faces Latinos in North Carolina: Challenging Stereotypes in the Classroom and Community

New Faces: Latinos in North Carolina is a curriculum-based media project for classrooms and communities that examines the cultural and economic contributions of Latino workers in North Carolina, as well as the challenges they face. The New Faces curriculum informs and engages youth and adult learners around issues of worker’s rights, economic justice and race and ethnicity.