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A Recipe for Films with Measurable Impact

Guest Post: Kristina Robbins and Marjan Safinia, Department of Expansion

So often we talk to organizations that are frustrated about spending money on films that haven’t achieved the results they wanted. These organizations are doing amazing work, they are solving complex problems but their films have lacked punch, longevity and returns.


Films about your work should be emotional and inspire action, not repeat facts that can be gleaned from your website or annual report. Films should act as a portal to draw audiences into your organization to learn more. Films should surprise you, make you laugh, make you cry, and most importantly, make you click “share”. They should feature real people that give an authentic voice to your issue, not rehearsed talking points. They should feel immersive. And they don’t need to be under three minutes.

Films should also set out with specific goals in mind, using the filmmaker’s toolbox of character, story, and stakes to drive audiences towards an intended result. Here are two of our films that successfully engaged their target audiences and achieved their specific goals.

For this one, the objective was to get out in front of the world press and steer a public conversation:

Sergey Brin and Cultured Beef:

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This next film was produced to help an organization transform its funding model from government grants to private donors while increasing giving at the same time:

Fresh Lifelines for Youth:
[youtube url=”GZWBI9q7dvY” autoplay=”0″ fs=”1″ hd=”1″ showsearch=”0″]

The organizations featured in the two examples were disciplined in their approach. They started with film strategies that clearly identified organizational hurdles, target audiences and desired results. Story development engaged the tools of character, structure and stakes to create an intended audience response. Finally a focused distribution strategy defined how the films would be used and where they would find their audiences.

Organizations that follow this three-part approach will succeed in making films that are worthy of their mission.

Kristina Robbins, director/producer, and Marjan Safinia, director/producer, Department of Expansion, will lead a discussion at the Fall Communications Network Fall Conference, in New Orleans in October, along with Christa Gannon, executive director, Fresh Lifelines for Youth, on the topic: Does Your Video Content Live Up to the Power of Your Story and Deepen Audience Engagement?


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