SilverDocs Conference – Day 1

I have really been looking forward to the conference. I think it’s such a great offering and the line-up is fabulous! Today, I managed to check out three sessions:

It Is a Small World After All: Bringing International Programming to the US
“The Way We Get By” Funding Case Study
Extreme Approaches to Reaching New Audiences

Some key takeaways? Filmmakers today need to be creative about finding funding and distribution. I think Gita Pullapilly, producer of THE WAY WE GET BY said it best when she explained that her trick was to think of her film like a small business. This mindset really forced her and director Aron Gaudet to prioritize and to make goals. Their other secret? Rather than go right for the national release, use small wins (like reaching a niche audience) to propel greater awareness regarding your film.

The “Small World” panel was a great resource for filmmakers who are working on projects in other countries. The filmmakers on the panel talked about their tricks to get funding – travel grants, the Fulbright, the expat community in the country where you’re filming. It was also great to hear from folks from Al Jazeera, MHz Networks, and Sundance who were encouraging the international content.

“Extreme Approaches” was extremely fascinating. I walked into this session a little late, but here’s what I got: The two filmmakers of A Powerful Noise arranged for a one-night-only screening through Fathom Events (have you ever seen the commercials for the Metropolitan Opera screenings at the theater? That’s Fathom’s signature event). The one-night-only screening got a lot of national buzz. This event, along with their close ties to organizations like CARE and The One Campaign resulted in a number of other partnerships with companies like Wal-Mart and Starbucks. Through these partnerships, the film has generated a lot of awareness about international women’s issues.

Awareness was, naturally, a key goal for both A POWERFUL NOISE and THE WAY WE GET BY. In today’s web-oriented world, both films’ websites have played a big role in spreading the word about the film. I encourage you to take a look at both films’ websites. Also, I look forward to the full launch of THE WAY WE GET BY’s new accompanying site the “Returning Home Project.” The filmmakers are hoping its up by August 3rd (when their film will be re-broadcast on POV).

I, unfortunately, didn’t get any photos today. I will definitely do that tomorrow. Looking forward to the Good Pitch and the other exciting conference sessions SilverDocs has in store!

— Preeti Balakrishnan

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