“If we’re able to invest in our youth now and give them alternatives to these negative pathways, our whole society benefits.” ––Robin Galas, Garden Program Director, Gateway Community School
Each year GlobalGiving
, the online marketplace that connects funders with lesser known purposeful organizations and projects, hosts a video contest
among those nonprofits who have posted a funding opportunity on the GlobalGiving site.
This year more than 65 organizations entered films into the competition, and we were proud to learn this week that Hidden Villa
was named one of the five winners. Hidden Villa is an educational organization set on one of the prettiest pieces of land you’ll ever see—a 1600-acre sweep of open space in the foothills of California’s Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco. Here disadvantaged, delinquent, or at-risk youth can come and learn about the environment, stewardship, and social justice while participating in sustainable farming and other activities meant to promote self-confidence and healthy lifestyles.
We send a hearty congratulations to the folks at Hidden Villa and to their partners at Microsoft, who sponsored the microdoc.
We also encourage you to consider similar opportunities for your organization’s short films. Contests like the GlobalGiving Video Contest provide a great forum to increase viewership and circulation. One of the perks of winning the contest is that Hidden Villa’s microdoc gets circulated on GlobalGiving’s Facebook page
and Twitter feed
, which have 41,000 Likes and 58,000 Followers respectively. That’s a lot of additional audience for your cause.
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If you work in the non-profit world, odds are that you already know of TechSoup
for the donated or discounted hardware and software that it distributes to purposeful organizations. You may even be reading this post on one of its refurbished computers.
This month TechSoup is hosting the 2013 Digital Storytelling Challenge
, which encourages nonprofits to submit short films for consideration by a panel of digital storytelling savants. There are prizes on the line, but the real goal is to help organizations hone their messages and share digital storytelling tips with other contestants.
We encourage you to participate. You have until midnight April 30th to submit your microdoc. The entry form is here
We also encourage you to attend a series of webinars that TechSoup is hosting alongside the digital storytelling competition. This Thursday, April 11, is the webinar Your Digital Story from Creation to Consumption
, which focuses on maximizing the reach and impact of your digital story.
On Thursday, April 18, comes a second webinar Menu of Storytelling Options and Services from Small to Large
, which will explore the skills that purposeful organizations need to tell their stories in a compelling fashion, no matter their size or budget. I’ll be one of the presenters. I look forward to seeing you online!
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Driving my daughter to ballet the other day, I passed a billboard advertising the new and improved Microsoft Outlook. “Get a better view,” the billboard said. “Watch videos directly from your inbox.”
It turns out that the new Outlook.com
includes a feature called “Active Views
” that allows users to view videos directly in their inbox rather than going to an external site like YouTube. If you’re a Gmail user, you’ll be familiar with these capabilities, as Gmail currently allows users to watch video at the bottom of each email. Active Views takes it one step further, with videos popping up to fill the screen of the inbox at the user’s command.
This is another example of how it’s becoming easier and easier for our audiences to watch short films and for us to distribute them. Given how pervasive Outlook
is, one can only imagine that the majority of email users will soon be watching videos directly from their inboxes. Every time you hit “send” you can now increase the distribution of a short film and thus further your impact.
Posted by Natasha Deganello Giraudie, CEO
Waiting for my flight this morning at Paris CDG airport, I noticed a large advertising monitor. A track and field athlete was crouched at the center of it, ready to surge off the starting block. What caught my attention wasn’t the athlete herself; after all, we’re days away from the start of the Olympics, and all of Europe is abuzz with heroic stories and imagery of athletes. No, what grabbed my eye was the fact that the athlete actually sprung into motion on the screen, and I was treated to a short clip of her rifling down the track.
Turns out this was a trailer for Believe in Yourself
, a series of micro-documentaries featuring paralympic athletes. Passengers waiting for their flights could aim their smartphones at the monitor and pull up the full micro-documentaries on their screens thanks to QR technology. The films are from Allianz
, the German insurance provider and the primary sponsor of the Paralympic Games
, which take place in London after the Olympic Games conclude. Clever, I thought, to integrate these dynamic micro-documentary trailers into a venue that typically shows standard perfume print ads and items from the duty-free shop.
The Allianz micro-documentaries
succeeded on 3 fronts: good placement, good timing, and good content. The placement is creative and effective, as passengers can easily watch the films while waiting at their gates. The timing makes sense, too, since most people are aware that the Olympics are just around the corner, even if they don’t plan to watch. And the content is strong. Allianz may have produced the films, but they’re not promotional pieces all about the company and how great it is. Indeed, the company doesn’t mention itself until the very end of the film as a publisher of the Believe in Yourself
series. The bulk of each piece is original editorial content about athletes, which is more appealing to watch and a more powerful way to connect with the audience.
Short films are one of the most effective ways to grab media attention these days. The stories editors and journalists create, in turn, result in ever-wider distribution for the short film. That’s the kind of positive feedback loop we all want to be part of.
Becoming part of this cycle and grabbing the attention of your favorite magazines or online sites starts with the quality of your short films themselves. Let’s look at the success of ReadyForZero
's microdoc, which recently landed in Fast Company
magazine, for some key takeaways.
1) Get yourself out of the way
: One of the principles we use to evaluate the quality of a micro-documentary is to determine whether it leads to
the solution rather than leads with
the solution. Short films that lead with the solution often feel overly promotional. The reason for this is that they tend to put the audience on guard - what are they trying to sell me? What do they want to get me to do?
Instead, keep your featured solution for last and use it as an example to reinforce the education and inspiration you offer your audience. In ReadyForZero’s video, rather than lead with their product, they start with the widespread problem of debt in today’s society and how anyone, including the co-founder of the company, can get overwhelmed by the challenge of climbing out.
When clients ask me for tips to increase viewership of their short films, I often say, “Don’t forget about print.” With so much excitement around online channels these days, it’s easy to focus squarely on distributing your film through your website, blog, on YouTube, Facebook, etc.
However, good old-fashion print materials can be leveraged very nicely to showcase your short films. Just think about all the different printed pieces that you create: newsletters, brochures, business cards, signage, posters, acknowledgement letters to donors and annual reports that capture the impact you are creating.
All of these materials are a great place to make reference to your short films. And your short films, in turn, can enhance the impact of your print materials.
Recently I was reminded of this when I picked up last month’s issue of Stanford’s Alumni Magazine. The Stanford Travel/Study program
had smartly embedded QR codes
on the printed page, so that readers could scan the codes on their mobile phones and watch related short films
, which we produced with them.
Stanford is usually at the vanguard of innovation, but if you look around, you’ll start to spot QR codes all over the place—on newsstands and in store windows, on posters at conferences and in promotional materials that show up in your mailbox. I especially like QR codes because they’re easy to get and getting easier to use and they do a great job connecting the print world to the digital.
When inserting a QR Code, it’s best to include the URL spelled out on the page. That way non-smartphone owners (the number is shrinking each day!) can still access the video on their computers. In terms of other best practices, be sure to provide readers with simple instructions on how to use the QR code, as the Stanford Travel/Study did in the magazine, thus increasing the chance that readers will actually end up watching your short film.
With these tips in mind, QR codes can enhance your next batch of print materials and ensure that your film finds the audience it deserves. Don’t forget about print!
The momentous release of the 30-minute online documentary KONY 2012 has been an exciting one for changemakers and documentary filmmakers alike. Its unprecedented reach, its astonishing conversion of inspiration to action, and the global conversation it has sparked all highlight the power of short film. Here, our head of Narrative Guardians, Preeti Deb, explores what we can take away from KONY 2012 from a storytelling perspective for short films:
It’s been less than two weeks since the San Diego advocacy group, Invisible Children
, released their KONY 2012 video
. Already the 29-minute documentary has had a staggering 84.5 million hits on YouTube
. It’s been hailed the most viral video of our time. It was most liked, viewed by and shared by people aged 18 to 29 years old.
Critics and humanitarian workers have criticized it for using outdated information and creating an over-simplified depiction of the current threat of Joseph Kony. And to make things worse, filmmaker Jason Russel made national headlines
last week for what seems to be a nervous breakdown from the intense attention of praise and critique after the film was launched.
And though I see many problems with the content of the video, I’d like to put the backlash aside for a few moments and use this opportunity to comment on what we can learn from KONY 2012.
The video has done some things very right. It’s made people feel empowered. It’s mobilized a generation that may otherwise feel disconnected from many world issues by focusing on the power of YOU. It’s given viewers a clear pathway to become part of the solution. It’s taken a complex issue and broken it down into a way that can offer a taste of the situation, so that anyone who watches the video feels like they should and can do something to stop the injustice.
Let’s see how filmmaker and co-founder of Invisible Children, Jason Russell, has done this:
by Ben Henretig, Creative Director, founder, Micro-Documentaries
Facebook can be a very powerful channel for distributing your videos - particularly if you craft your post carefully and make use of features like tagging.
To make your Facebook posts more successful, consider these 5 tips which I explore in greater detail below:
1. Tag 6 friends or influencers
2. Make it seem easy to participate
3. Choose a target behavior (comment/like) and ask!
4. Connect the post to a larger goal
5. Constrain the time horizon for action
YouTube is continually modifying its look and formatting protocol for both viewers and those posting videos.
With the most recent update, it’s all the more important that you place your links (to your website, donation page, twitter page) as the first item in the video’s description.
"The Startup Visa videos that Micro-Documentaries did for our GeeksOnaPlane trip to Washington DC were brilliant -- and they were game-changers for innovation and job creation in America. In less than 48 hours, we were able to shoot, produce, and deliver a high-quality video documentaries on how citizen-led, grassroots legislation can empower startup entrepreneurs to change the world, create jobs, and make our lives better."
Dave McClure, Co-Founder/Organizer at StartupVisa.com