Identify & Approach Partners
This is a very interesting and sort of evolving area of this overarching idea of how do you make a short documentary film. Again, we come out of the world of the editorial world, of magazines and so forth. And what's happened is, and I've touched on this already, but it's really critical to understand this because this is most likely where you can not only get your funding, but you can get your partners to distribute the work and in some cases, help you accomplish the field work as well. So we're talking about NGOs and foundations and non-profits. So that could be anything from Human Rights Watch, or International Medical Corps, to foundations like the James Irvine Foundation, or Encore, another San Francisco-based organization. We've done a lot of work with the Ford Foundation. There's so many out there. Very high level, Ford, Rockefeller, Bill and Melinda Gates, so forth. And then you go down to the sort of, Medecins Sans Frontieres, International Medical Corps, Human Rights Watch, A...
mnesty International, and then you sort of drill down to maybe organizations that are not, or UNICEF is another one, the big one. The thing that's amazing is it's almost endless. This potential, this group of potential partners is virtually endless right now. And again, as Julie has so correctly pointed out, there might be an organization out there that we have never heard of, but the idea you're interested in is exactly what they need. And it's exactly the sort of film that they could use. So again, this comes down to figuring out alignment. But again, where does it all start with? Your idea. What are you passionate about? Let's come back full circle, what are you passionate about? What do you care about? What do you think you can conceivably pull off, given your whatever, you know all the different factors that go into creating a short film. And then where are the funding partners? Where are the distribution partners that this will be right for? And it might be Time magazine or National Geographic and also be foundation XYZ, based in whatever city or town that's nearby you because it connects to the issue you're interested in working on.
It's important when you approach partners not to just ask them for what you need. It's really important that you approach them with what you can offer to them. So you really need to go in in that spirit. It's not a one-way relationship. And a lot of it is saying to them, I would love to produce a film that you could use for fundraising or a membership drive. How do you present this particular branch of what you do? Have you captured it as a story, and would that be valuable to you? And it's asking the question, like I raised before, it's that idea of what is valuable to you? What piece of the story do you feel people don't understand? What would help you communicate your work better? So I think it's really important that you walk into those kinds of meetings, or you make that initial phone call, talking to them for A, asking questions about what do they need. Like if I were to make a film, what would be valuable to you? As opposed to going in with your agenda. I'm planning on making this film about X, Y, and Z, and I figured you guys could use it. And sometimes that'll work, but a lot of the time it's almost like, I'm busy, I got so much on my plate. I can't, you know whatever, that's great. Why don't you tell us when it's done. And you can't really ask for support unless somebody feels like they're gonna get something out of it. So you have to play it more strategically. It's the kinda thing too where like if you know that you, and especially if travel is involved, 'cause it's pretty hard to get an organization to send you somewhere, which is also why in the early stages, you should capitalize on where you are. You might be appealing here to somebody who runs a foundation in New York because you're located here. So be strategic about these relationships. If there is a story you wanna tell and it's somewhere else, you might even walk in to that introduction by saying, well, I plan to be in Mexico in March, because you know you're gonna tell this story, and you're very appealing if you're gonna be there anyway. Thought it might be valuable to you since I'm gonna be there anyway to team up so that I could actually produce something that's of value to you. So be strategic about these things. Why would they want to work with you? Now, anybody in here who also shoots stills? It's a big selling point. So if you shoot stills too, and it's a huge selling point for Talking Eyes, has been all these years, when you talk to a foundation and you say, well, one of the things we can offer is that we're gonna make that short film for you, but we could also do stills. So we'll come back with stills that you'll be able to use online, on your website, in any printed materials. So you're getting like twice the bang for the buck because a lot of the times those stills are what they can use in perpetuity. The film has a limited lifespan. So again, strategic. What makes you unique?
And think about that kind of media NGO combo. And by NGO I mean foundations, non-profits, and NGOs. But think about that, that's certainly something we've had some good fortune with. I hope we get some more in the future where one or the other, 'cause they're very distinct, and there are actually some media organizations that will not publish things that have been funded by an NGO. But that's a whole 'nother issue, but that is something to pay attention to.