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On March, 2010

Browsing all posts on March, 2010

Documentary Objective

The core objective of a social justice documentary is not a distribution deal, money, or notoriety. The objective is your audience. Does the audience engage, learn and grow with your characters so that they are ready to make a difference when the lights come up? As a filmmaker, how can you ensure that your story makes a difference in the life of an audience member, who will then influence their own community?

ARTICULATING THE OBJECTIVE:

Even before crafting the fundraising strategy for the documentary Sin By Silence, the Quiet Little Place team developed one crucial objective - we must inspire our audience to DO Something! The completion of the film, and the structure of an ongoing campaign, was continually influenced by this core objective. Every time we discussed campaign possibilities, or the film's outreach, we were able to simplify the process by asking ourselves - does this help inspire our audience to do something? Future decisions then became simple.

In order to engage the audience throughout the film, and inspire them to make a difference after viewing, we had to be aware of our audience's first perceptions. Where were they coming from? What would be the stereotypes that we would have to break down in order to inspire the need for change? To begin to articulate this cultural environment, we created a bullet point list to analyze the world we were trying to change. What exactly did a world filled with the tragedies of domestic violence look like?

SITUATION ANALYSIS:

  • Every nine seconds a woman is abused.
  • One in three women experience some type of personal violence such as rape, domestic violence, or stalking.
  • Intimate partners have assaulted approximately 1.5 million women each year in the USA.
  • Shelters are at capacity throughout the country.
  • Thinking that domestic violence is a private family matter is an outdated belief.
  • Women are frequently embarrassed or ashamed to speak about violence experienced in their homes.
  • Women lack resources and support systems for escaping domestic violence situations safely.
  • Law enforcement, social service personnel and clergy generally lack in-depth training regarding the dynamics and trajectory of violent relationships.
  • The public needs to be educated about the far-reaching effects of domestic violence.
  • Occurrence rates will decrease as more people are educated and become advocates against domestic violence.

UNIVERSAL CONNECTION:

It is impossible to engage an audience with cold hard facts. The biggest challenge became informing the audience, while universally connecting them to the issue - feed their heads, as well as their hearts. The QLP team knew that the best way to connect our audience to the subject was through transference. The powerful stories of the women that had experienced horrific violence, the women of Convicted Women Against Abuse, could be any one of us. These women, who are the true experts on the topic of domestic violence, provide the reality of abusive relationships. They are everyday women that did not experience something that only happens to certain people. The statistics show that domestic violence happens more than we care to admit or realize. This became our key element and focus...this could happen to you! When watching the film, audience members put themselves in the shoes of women with whom they would never normally relate - women in prison for 15 years to life.

WHAT CAN WE DO?:

As audience members begin to connect to the women's journeys, they become overwhelmed with the need to do something. So, the QLP team created actionable ways for an audience to engage so that no one left the film empty-handed. Creating these action steps to engage can be difficult, especially when dealing with a difficult topic like domestic violence. Domestic violence is a massive cultural problem fraught with state and federal legality issues. Just inspiring our audience to just do something about the issue of domestic violence was too broad. We decided that we needed to develop our audience into "stewards of change" by starting simple.

STEWARDS OF CHANGE:

In the editing room of Sin By Silence, as we crafted the story, we also developed the idea of working with our audience to become stewards of change. Once you become aware of the problem by watching the film, we wanted to inspire our audience to take on domestic violence as "their issue." As a part of this strategy session, we developed three points to develop these stewards -- connect, engage, influence.

First, audience members needed to take the first step, something simple, like just watching the film. This initial connection helps them understand that they need to do more to help the very prevalent issue of domestic violence. Secondly, it was important to create opportunities to engage with local organizations to volunteer and help with local initiatives in the audience member's own community. Thirdly, we wanted our stewards of change to influence others to join them, to do something to help change the tragedy of domestic violence.

 

Impact Assessment

Many films measure their success by box office numbers, while social issue documentary films must measure impact by their ability to create social change. With the box offices focusing on dollars and cents, how do you grasp the seemingly immeasurable impact of social change?

By tallying the number of web hits, screenings, attendance, social engagement and DVD sales, a picture of the film's impact begins to emerge. Hitting big numbers can seem like big impact, but it really doesn't matter unless you are building audience investment into the cause. Your viewers are a treasure trove of change that are capable of things beyond even your own hopes for your film. You just have to create the strategy to light the spark.

connect

CONNECT:


Con·nect: to join, link, or fasten together; unite or bind

In order to connect to the audience, a film must have a strong story experience and meld it with the immediate need to do something. Sin by Silence utilizes the personal stories of the women of Convicted Women Against Abuse as a universal connection to the notion that these women represent every woman. They could be your grandmother, your mother...or even you! To achieve such an emotional response, we had to reach beyond festival screenings and develop more advocacy oriented screenings through a grassroots tour that would connect the film directly with local communities. This is the first step to connecting with the viewer on a more intimate level that then empowers them with the need to do more.

ConnectGraph3Discover more about how we created connections by viewing...

Film Festival Strategy
Community Outreach
What's Your Red Flag?

ENGAGE:


En·gage: to occupy the attention or efforts; entangle or involve

Engagement begins when the lights come back up at a screening event. A small and simple opportunity must be given to the viewer to take the first step towards involvement in the cause. To begin this phase, we start with the simple availability of postcards to take home and write to the women of CWAA. This step wasn't scary or disheartening. It was something everyone could do. Write a letter of support. Of Love. Of encouragement. Once an audience member receives a letter back from the women in CWAA, many will feel compelled to do more to help a real person that represents thousands of others.

To continue engagement after a screening, we encourage audience members to stay connected and share their own stories on the film's website, Facebook, Twitter and Network. Using social media, to develop a portal of vital information, requires utilizing the right tools for specific demographics that will transform our audience members from simple viewers into advocates.

AssessGraphDiscover more about Sin By Silence's strategy of engagement by viewing...

Postcards to the Edge
Audience Investment
Inbox Connections
DVD Strategy

INFLUENCE:


In·flu·ence: to exercise influence on; affect, sway, to move or impel (a person) to some action

The QLP team has a life-changing task ahead of us as we enter into our last phase of inciting further action. The crisis of domestic violence is unfortunately not going to go away. While the unbearable heartbreak happens behind closed doors, there is an opportunity to still shine a light. We are excited to continue changing hearts and minds so that the statistics of domestic violence will begin to decrease and communities will realize that the keys to that success lies in their own hands. Sin by Silence has come a long way, but there is so much more to do. When we act, lives will change, women’s roles will transform, and the next generation will be different.

Discover more about how we are starting to influence by viewing...

Strategic Partnerships
Legislative Action
Action Kits

Film Festival Strategy

The film festival environment has changed! What used to be a huge platform for independent films, is now bringing fewer picture "deals" and even less of an opportunity to connect with an audience. Of course getting into Sundance is a great accomplishment, but when a filmmaker's focus is only on top tier festivals it can be detrimental to the message of the film.

Choosing the festival circuit in which a film will play should not be determined solely by chance or acceptance, but by a strategic path for exposure and credibility that generates buzz and potential outreach partners. The QLP team created a different strategy that opted for a grassroots approach, in order to maximize the message of Sin by Silence.

GOAL:

Screen Sin by Silence in smaller and regional festivals that can garner larger audiences and create communities of support that prove to be more valuable to the film and campaign.

STRATEGY:

  1. Identify festivals that mirror the message and activism of Sin by Silence - human rights, women's issues, community based, etc.
  2. Partner with each festival area's local domestic violence organizations to maximize exposure to a niche audience.
  3. Debut in a place that is meaningful, relevant and engaged in the topic.

OUTCOMES:

Sin by Silence debuted at the Cleveland International Film Festival in 2009 to great success. In 1990, Ohio was the first state to grant clemency to 25 battered women convicted of killing their abusive husbands and became the catalyst for the movement the Convicted Women Against Abuse group started in California. So, it was only fitting that the Sin by Silence campaign start in the state that brought our movement and message to life. Having our debut at this mid-tiered festival with meaning, gave the film more press opportunities than might be available at larger festivals.

Our next step on the film festival route was another strategic opportunity, at the Sacramento Film and Music Festival, on the night Governor Schwarzenegger was to sign the state's budget. The QLP team joined protesters and advocates to help ensure that the message of domestic violence agencies funding was vital to the state of California. Even though the next day the Governor vetoed the budget, we knew we had an impact with our efforts by being receiving the Audience Award for Best Documentary.

FESTIVAL SCREENINGS:

2009

  • Sacramento Film and Music Festival, Audience Award for Best Documentary
  • Cleveland International Film Festival, Audience Award for Best Film/2nd Runner-Up
  • United Nations Association Film Festival
  • Starz Denver International Film Festival
  • Female Eye Film Festival
  • Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival
  • Women of Color Film Festival

2010

  • San Francisco International Documentary Festival
  • Portland Women's Film Festival
  • Women's Film Festival

 

Community Outreach Tour

A grassroots movement starts with a call for change from everyday people challenging an imperfect world. The civil right's movement and women’s right to vote both started with concerned citizens organizing and taking a stand. The fight against domestic abuse started small, but is currently addressed through government programs and private institutions instead of grassroots engagement. So, how could a film step in to help create momentum?

With Sin by Silence, we knew creating a film wasn't enough. Our vision was to help inspire individuals truly understand what's at stake - by connecting real stories, about real women, to the tragedy of domestic violence. To achieve this, we needed to take the film directly into communities who needed to hear the message and create change by leveraging the passions and power of PEOPLE.


GOAL:

Develop a grassroots campaign to screen the film in the top 10 states with the worst domestic violence statistics in order to...

  1. Create awareness and conversations about the silent tragedy of domestic violence.
  2. Build connections and mobilize passionate individuals who have interest in getting involved in the domestic abuse prevention movement with local resources for continued involvement.
  3. Educate communities about the urgency of involvement in the issues and lives affected in order to create prevention and help shape realistic change.
  4. Help influence others to join the movement.


RESEARCH:

To begin the process of developing the Stop the Violence tour we had to identify the state's with the worst domestic violence statistics. With ever worsening statistics, time was of the essence. By utilizing the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence statistic reports we were able to review statistics and formulate a plan resulting in the need to travel to Arizona, California, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, Washington.

PARTNERSHIPS:

We connected with each state's domestic violence coalition to develop a plan of action in envisioning where a screening might best be utilized within their network. The QLP team was then able to identify and connect with various organizations, non-profits, universities and churches that would benefit from a screening of the film and discussion.

TIMING:

In order to maximize the effectiveness and reach of the film, it was important to schedule the tour around Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October 2009. By utilizing this timing, we were able to expand upon the outreach efforts already in place through community partners.

IMPACT:

 

TourGraph2


TANGIBLE OUTCOMES:

We helped create safe places for audience members to share their own personal stories of tragedy. We helped connect organizations with new advocates who were ready to join the cause and begin working together. We helped ignite change...

  • Petition to free Margaret Moore - a petition was signed at various screenings to help free one of the original CWAA memebers, and then current chairperson, with her campaign to freedom. Over 2000 signatures were collected and Margaret was released from prison on January 8, 2010 after spending 31 years behind bars.
  • Process to begin Convicted Women Against Abuse at Indianapolis women's prison is initiated after screening the film for inmates on October 22, 2009.
  • Ollie Johnson shared her testimony after film screens with organizations partner Free Battered Women in San Francisco. She was released from prison on 2008 after serving 22 years, and continues to search for a home and job. Ollie's life changed after the screening as one audience member offers her a place to live and help with finding a job.
  • Welcome Home Hampers - donation by NewportWomen of Newport Beach, CA for supplies (beauty products, clothing, necessities and giftcards) for the Convicted Women Against Abuse members when they are released from prison.
  • Stamp Drive - Girl Scout Troop of Ruidoso, NM starts a community wide donation drive to send mailing supplies and stamps to the women of Convicted Women Against Abuse.
  • Shelter Art Class - local artist starts a monthly art class for the children staying at the Family Violence Center shelter in Springfield, MO.
  • Family Portraits - local photographer donates time and supplies to take personal portraits for the families seeking safety at Lydia's House in St. Louis, MO.
  • Pro Bono Legal Services - 10 Berkeley Law students sign up with the Habeas Project to begin providing legal services for the women of Convicted Women Against Abuse.
  • Court Watch Group - the discussion after the film included one woman's plea for help through the legal case she was facing trying to protect her kids from abusive husband. As a result, The Center for Nonviolence of Fort Wayne, IN started a small action group to begin a court watch for the various local cases of violence against women and to keep judges and media accountable of what was happening in the local courtrooms.

TESTIMONIALS:

"People were energized and excited about the possibilities of getting involved in raising awareness about domestic violence. Our community was inspired to take action."
- New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence

"One could not attend this presentation and walk away feeling not profoundly impacted by the message."
- YWCA Lafayette, IN

"It uplifted all present to remember that there are those in our community who need help and understanding. It uplifted the empowerment and the hope of the women who attended, to remind them of how much power there is in solidarity. Even our own staff members were inspired."
- Center for NonViolence / Fort Wayne, IN

"Very powerful and dynamic presentation to help understand the ultimate consequence of domestic violence. All victims and batterers need to see this documentary!"
- Domestic Violence Council of Kern County

"It was one of the best educational presentations on domestic violence we had ever offered."
- YWCA Director / Topeka, Kansas

"For the first time, I saw that I could of ended up just like these women. I have been in an abusive relationship and finally learned so much about my own silence."
- Audience Member

"My daughter went with me and for the first time we talked about her father and the abuse we both endured. I have never been able to reconnect with her about our past and am so thankful that this event created that opportunity."
- Audience Member

What’s your Red Flag?

Newspapers were cluttered with headlines of the very public act of violence against Rihanna in 2009. Overnight, Rihanna's private nightmare became a public debate. "She deserved it." "She is trying to get attention." "She started it." These kinds of comments revealed a startling response to teen dating violence and the statistics prove it - 1 in 3 teens experience abuse, 2 out of 3 teens who experience abuse never report it.

With these pervasive comments and brutal statistics, the QLP team knew it was crucial to reach a younger generation with the message of Sin by Silence. By utilizing the stories of the CWAA women, who met their abusive partners in their teenage years, we were determined to help prevent a young generation of women from following in their footsteps. Helping youth understand the future impact on their present decisions, can help create steps toward making better decisions now for the quality of their relationships and independence.

GOAL:

While on the Stop the Violence tour, schedule events that take the message of Sin by Silence to the college age level. Build young knowledge to understand the violence that surrounds youth in their homes, in their relationships, and on their campuses. Build young action to start to making better decisions for their own personal safety.

STRATEGY:

  1. Utilize screening events on university and college campuses to inspire a younger generation to create change.
  2. Create a tangible reminder that helps each and every member of the audience connect the stories they see onscreen with their own relationships.

OUTCOMES:

RedFlag

IMPACT:

As the data shows, the Red Flag events were by far the most successful events on the Stop the Violence tour. The greatest amount of attendees. The greatest amount of connections. The greatest amount of impact in touching the lives of a younger generation. But, how would the impact be continued after the students went back to their dorm rooms? By creating red flags to remind them of the warning signs in potentially abusive relationships!

Thousands of red flags were passed out as students and community members walk into the screening. In the interactive discussion with students after screening the film, students were encouraged to write the warning sign on their red flag to remind them to be aware of their relationship boundaries.


EVENT SPOTLIGHT:

Vanguard University of Southern California
September 2, 2009 - Costa Mesa, CA

"Sin by Silence grips every man and woman with the knowledge that this could happen in my own community. Then it takes the next step and the viewer understands that it IS happening on our own campus. We have to break the silence." - Center for Women's Studies

Attendance: 475

Panel Discussion Participants:

Denise Ballester- Executive Director, Nicole Brown Foundation
Dr. Elizabeth Leonard - Author of Convicted Survivors
Brenda Clubine - Founder of Convicted Women Against Abuse
Ann-Caryn Cleveland - Co-Producer/Editor
Olivia Klaus - Director/Producer

Impact of Event:

"Over four hundred and fifty, mostly students, packed in to to see Sin by Silence. The moderate roar turned to stunned silence once the video began. No one moved. The mood intensified as the team that brought it all together took their places on the Q&A Panel. The message was clear - our students need to be aware of the violence they will face in their relationships. The impact was made - many students are now volunteering at the local shelter that helped sponsor the event. The following morning there was a field of red flags, planted by students multiplying the message, being a voice, and making a difference."
- Sandie Morgan, Panel Discussion Moderator

TESTIMONIALS:

"The Sin by Silence event brought life to an issue that is too often ignored. Our community and campus was moved and inspired because any of the women in the film could have been one of our students."
University of San Francisco, Gender, Sexuality & Women's Student Resource Center

"Sin by Silence has inspired my students to take action in our own community to ensure that survivors of domestic violence are not victimized by the criminal justice system."
Arizona State University, Women's Study Center

"Sin by Silence is a film that should be shown on every college campus. In less than an hour students learn about the signs of abuse, the long-term consequences of abuse, and that there is hope for a world free of abuse. By the end of the event, students realize this is an issue that matters to them."
Pacific Lutheran University, Sociology Department

"The response was simply amazing. From students who now feel "called" to work in this specific field, to women seeking help, to community members wanting to mobilize. I think the ripples from the film and Brenda's dynamic and moving presentation will be felt for some time."
Evangel University, Sociology Department