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Feb 16, 2017 at 7:08 pm

Your Audience Loves You: A Seminar on The Art of Audience-Driven Funding, Outreach and Distribution

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An intensive 1-day seminar.
Immerse yourself in the art of audience-driven distribution, the tactics of audience outreach,
and the power of documentary audiences to effect change through film .

Documentary producers now work in a world that makes their films increasingly accessible to audiences. Where once cinema programmers and broadcasters–both gatekeepers for content–controlled the distribution and positioning of documentary, film exhibitors are now as many and as diverse as the films they program, and documentary is now as accessible as a wireless connection.

With this changing landscape has come a new role for both filmmakers and film audiences. Makers are increasingly tasked with distributing their own films, connecting directly with audiences, and marketing and booking their own distribution campaigns. Likewise, audiences have become increasingly active–not passive watchers in a darkened cinema, but impassioned megaphones for films and their causes. 

In this seminar we explore this changing landscape and assist documentary makers with the tasks essential to envisioning and executing an audience-driven distribution and impact campaign for their films. Where to begin? How to identify–and nurture–an audience for your film? How to tap into the power of community activism, grassroots organizers, and crowd-generated publicity to sustain an audience for your documentary? And once done, how to best leverage the energy and enthusiasm of that audience to attract both revenue and impact?

Produced by UnionDocs in partnership with Caitlin Boyle, founder and Executive Director of New York-based documentary distribution firm Film Sprout, this seminar will encourage documentary makers to broaden their definition of “audience” while simultaneously focusing their sights on the strategies and tactics that give their films their best, most remunerative, and most impactful public life.

In one intensive Saturday seminar, 20 participants will learn from a team of seasoned guest speakers and filmmakers. Presentations, discussions, and a live strategy critique will help put this new knowledge into practice.

Caitlin Boyle will lead the seminar as the main instructor.


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When: Saturday, July 11, 2015 // 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Where: UnionDocs, 322 Union Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211[su_spacer size=”10″]
Who is eligible?
Open to everyone.

Documentary students, seasoned filmmakers and outreach and engagement coordinators are all encouraged to register.

Please give us an idea of who you are and why you are coming. When you register, you will be asked for a short statement of interest that should briefly describe your experience in documentary and your current project (either your own film or a film project on which you’re doing audience outreach or engagement work),  and a project idea (if you have one), plus a bio. There’s a spot for a link to a work sample and CV, which would also be nice, but is not required.
Please note: Participants are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Focus is on discussions, interaction among participations, and troubleshooting real-life problems in grassroots documentary distribution, positioning and audience outreach. The goal is to prepare filmmakers at every stage of practice for the modern and fast-evolving distribution landscape into which their projects will launch.

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$300 early bird registration by June 16
$350 regular
Please note that the service charge is waived if payment is made via check.
Checks can be made out to UnionDocs and mailed to 322 Union Ave, Brooklyn NY 11211.

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Technology Requirements:

In order to keep costs down, this workshop is a b-y-o-m, bring your own material (laptop, notebooks, writing utensils). Students must be fully proficient using and operating their computers.

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(subject to change)

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10:00 am “Your Audience Loves You (And How to Love Them Back)”
Film Sprout Founder Caitlin Boyle leads a fast-paced presentation on how to create an audience-driven distribution strategy for your film, pinpointing the most important strategic decisions filmmakers can make to create a grassroots groundswell around their projects. The one-hour presentation will be followed by a 30-minute Q&A. Instructor: Caitlin Boyle

11:30 am “Steering a Grassroots-Driven Campaign: Lessons from Vessel
Filmmaker Diana Whitten discusses the lessons learned from the distribution of her feature documentary Vessel, from festival-circuit engagement to fundraising to community screenings and digital release. The 30-minute talk will be followed by a 30-minute Q&A. Instructor: Diana Whitten

12:30 pm Lunch

1:30 pm  “Going From Audience to Impact”
Picture Motion’s Senior Director of Campaign Strategy, Darcy Heusel, identifies the tried-and-tested ways that filmmakers and their distribution teams can drive not just viewership, but social impact for their films. The 45-minute presentation will be followed by a 15-minute Q&A. Instructor: Darcy Heusel

2:30 pm  “Crowfunding from the Ground Up”
Film Presence Founder Sara Kiener uses case studies to articulate the best-practices around growing a successful crowdfunding effort from the ground-up. The 45-minute presentation will be followed by a 15-minute Q&A. Instructor: Sara Kiener


4:00 pm  10-Minute Strategy Critiques
Six workshop participants are invited to pitch their crowdfunding, community distribution, theatrical outreach or engagement strategies to the group, and to receive live feedback on how their plans can best engage audiences. Each participant will have 4 minutes to pitch their idea, and will receive 6 minutes of feedback from the instructors and their peers.

5:00 pm   Reception
Mingle with the instructors and your peers, trade business cards, and compare notes!

6:00 pm      End

CB Wide Head Shot 2012CAITLIN BOYLE (EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FILM SPROUT) A pioneer of grassroots distribution for independent films, Caitlin began her career as a journalist, working on staff at NPR affiliates WFIU and WFUV and at New York’s flagship PBS station, WNET. She graduated summa cum laude from Columbia University in 2003, with a degree in American history, and completed a Master’s in journalism from the Indiana University Graduate School of Journalism in 2005. After founding Film Sprout in 2009, she became a leading voice for the nontraditional distribution of documentary films in community settings, and a champion of films’ power to effect grassroots social change.

Her presentations on grassroots film distribution have rallied filmmakers at SXSW, Hot Docs, IFP, Sheffield Doc/Fest, RIDM, Los Angeles Film Festival, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and The New York Foundation for the Arts, among others. Through Film Sprout, she has been the architect of high-profile community screening campaigns for dozens of films, including Pray the Devil Back to Hell, The End of the Line, A Small ActThe Invisible War, Vessel and The Hunting Ground. She serves on the board of UnionDocs, and has participated in the advisory board of NYU’s Cinema Research Institute and the documentary advisory committee of the Paley Center for Media.

Whitten_DianaDiana Whitten (FILMMAKER)
Diana Whitten has a decade of professional film/TV direction, production and design experience. She founded Sovereignty Productions in 2008, following a Fulbright Fellowship to Indonesia, and was the Director of Communications at Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program. Vessel, her first feature film, was released to global audiences in 2014.  Awards include the SXSW Audience Award, the SXSW Special Jury Award for Political Courage, the inaugural Peter Wintonick Award from Sheffield DocFest, the Moving Mountains Honorable Mention from Mountainfilm in Telluride, the Adrienne Shelly Excellence in Filmmaking Award, and the SIMA Lens to Action Jury Award.

Darcy’s expertise in impact film stretches from social media and online engagement to film marketing and distribution. Her projects at Picture Motion include Fed Up, American Promise, Bully, The Crash Reel, and Herman’s House. Previously, Darcy was the Director of Programming and Marketing at Constellation.tv where she oversaw business development, client relations, social media and digital strategy. While there, she also directed new media events for The Vow, Magic Mike, and films from the Criterion Collection. Prior to Constellation, Darcy was Director of Acquisitions and Marketing at Screen Media Films, where she acquired and oversaw distribution (Theatrical, DVD, VOD, Digital and more) and marketing for over 50 films. Darcy serves on the advisory board for the Minority Independent Producers summit and volunteers in her free time with Ghetto Film School NYC. Darcy graduated with a BA in political science and writing from Washington University in St. Louis.

Sara Kiener began implementing outreach and audience engagement campaigns in 2009 with the theatrical release of Frederick Wiseman’s La Danse and Nicole Opper’s Off and Running before joining forces with Merrill Sterritt in early 2010 to create Film Presence. At Film Presence, Sara recently oversaw the crowdfunding campaign for Don Cheadle’s forthcoming directorial debut: Miles Ahead which raised over $340,000. Sara has participated in labs, panels and juries at Sundance, SXSW Film Festival, True/False, DCTV and Chicken & Egg. She is a member of the IFP Advisory Board and is a marketing mentor in their yearlong lab workshops for emerging filmmakers. Prior to working at Film Presence, Sara was the Exhibitor Relations Manager at Magnolia Pictures.

Workshop Policies:
Registration & Cancellation: To register for a workshop, students must pay in full via PayPal. After the registration deadline of June 16th, course fees are not refundable or transferable and any withdrawals or deadlines will result in the full cost of the class being forfeit. There will be no exceptions. To withdraw from a course please email info-at-uniondocs.org.

In the event that a workshop does not receive sufficient enrollment, it may be canceled. Students will be notified at least 48 hours prior to the start of a cancelled workshop and will be refunded within 5 business days. If we reschedule a workshop to another date, students are also entitled to a full refund. UnionDocs reserves the right to change instructors without prior notification, and to change class location and meeting times by up to an hour with 48 hours prior notice.


Feb 16, 2017
7:08 pm

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