Having done our homework in the pre-production phase, learning about the issue, interviewing stakeholders, and developing a strategy that draws on the stories we’re trying to tell, it’s time to get our hands dirty.
Enter “engagement production” phase! This is when we can actually get the wheels turning on all the tasks that go into building an audience for a film online and offline. Building an audience should run parallel to the production of the feature film or video campaign at hand and could mean a few months — or maybe even a few years — of outreach before the project actually premieres.
Since every project we take on is unique, what we can build and accomplish in the production phase depends on a number of factors.
FUNDING: Do we have robust funding for engagement right out the gate? Or is it a more difficult project to raise money for? Funding drives the scale of the work on the engagement side, as well as our timeline
FORMAT: Is the project centered around a feature film, a short film or a digital video campaign? The kind of content we release online before the project’s official premiere may depend on where the “main attraction” will primarily be viewed — on a television, a film screen, or on Facebook or YouTube.
FUNCTION: In pre-production, we outline a strategy and goals for the project. How does this method of building an audience and partnerships get us closer to those goals? For example, if we want to drive conversation, we can produce content focused on engagement on social media. However, if we are seeking to build a coalition of grassroots organizations that are ready to take action, then we could focus our attention on one-on-one conversations and collaborations with partners.
Next step! We have to ask, what kinds of activities will drive our engagement production? These ideas can vary greatly, but we see the following list as core, essential aspects to successfully getting an impact campaign off the ground:
Collecting Signups: Using online ads, social media, and an SEO-optimized website, we collect email signups for folks who will remain loyal followers and endorsers of each project. Having their contact information will not only allow us to follow up for the project’s premiere, but also let’s us send ongoing information about ways to get involved and take action around the project’s core issues.
Building Conversation: Kindling Group takes a platform-agnostic approach to all of our projects — so even for a feature film, there’s no reason why the associated videos, blog posts, and other content we share during the film’s production can’t have an impact. Every story we tell online should not only grow an audience for the film, but should also move us closer to our project goals.
Nurturing Partnerships: Having networked partners with wide reach online and in the field helps our story get in front of more people — and helps us better reach the people who will most connect with the issue. We begin building these partnerships during production by connecting over the phone or in person, learning more about their work and opportunities for collaboration, and when appropriate, by sharing video or blog content about their work with our own audience.
Testing and Iteration: Beginning to grow our list, share stories, and drive engagement in the production phase allows us to begin testing what our audience responds well to — allowing us to better hone our message and optimize our reach. By testing and growing our audience long before a project’s premiere date, we can lay a solid foundation for a more impactful launch.
VCH Partner Video Collaboration with We Are the Mighty and the Armed Services Arts Partnership
These activities will carry us right up to that all important moment of setting our core media live, or the dimming of the lights at our festival premiere.
Are you an impact producer or filmmaker? Let us know in the comments your feedback on the KG approach or differences with how you might approach your work. We’re always hungry to collaborate and learn more.