adjective; "of or relating to the method used by Socrates of eliciting knowledge in the mind of a person by interrogation and insistence on close and logical reasoning";
from Greek maieutikós, "skilled in midwifery"
"The less we know, the more we believe in science," says Paolo Quattrone, Professor of Accounting, Governance and Social Innovation in Edinburgh.
As an accountant, you'd think he'd be into numbers and science. But as I wrote in part 1 of this Blog series - Numbers Don't Speak for Themselves, he believes numbers need to be injected and interrogated with doubt: through words, pictures, moving image, music. Paolo is searching for a new way to represent the Annual Accounts, the grand narrative of the corporate world.Read more
Journeying into ideas about accounting and governance
"The unknown and the unknowable" — sounds like documentary making. But I'm talking about accounting.
Last year, almost by fluke, but not by coincidence, I joined the Human Business Group at University of Edinburgh, established by Professor Paolo Quattrone (@PaoloQuattrone) - the University's new Chair in Accounting, Governance and Social Innovation. After spending five years on the production of Future My Love, I'd become very interested in the junction of humanity and business: how we govern our affairs, how we count things, and how we represent them outside monetary terms. Paolo is a prolific scholar, originally from Palermo, who has studied and taught worldwide, including at Oxford and Madrid, before joining Edinburgh.Read more
We launched the pay-it-forward concept with FUTURE MY LOVE at IDFA in Amsterdam a few months ago. This blog post about the thinking behind it was first published on the Huffington Post blog. We're republishing it here on the occasion of I AM BREATHING now also being available as pay-it-forward.
"To challenge economy is to challenge ourselves," says filmmaker Maja Borg. "It is far harder than complaining about the banking system." Maja's debut feature Future My Love tells a story of idealism and failure, looking at concepts for both our personal lives and society as whole. "Economy is a human relationship," states the film's tag line.
Contemplating the ideal of a world without money (or, respectively, a relationship without possessiveness), the film focuses on Jacque Fresco's ideas for an economic system in which goods, services and information would be freely available. Fresco's Venus Project (Wikipedia) and the related Zeitgeist Movement have hundreds of thousands followers worldwide. In charge of audience relations for Future My Love, I could possibly tap into a large existing community.
With a thought-provoking Scottish-Swedish co-production that has been critically acclaimed, toured international festivals for more than a year, and won a Green documentary award, what could possibly go wrong?Read more
Michael Franklin is a doctoral researcher at the Institute for Capitalising on Creativity and an industry consultant at Film Business Research. He wrote this response to Sonja Henrici's proposal of a 'Triple Bottom Line in Film?'
Sonja Henrici started a really interesting debate proposing a Triple Bottom Line in Film (TBL). The concept as I understand it involves adding social and environmental concerns, “people and planet”, to the profit bottom line. Sonja suggests the need for a template, or standard accounting practice that measures “actual cultural value”. One purpose of demonstrating “positive social action” or “positive audience engagement” is the gaining of rewards like “future investment, funding or sponsorship”. Reflection of a film’s impact additional to financial measurement is proposed as a potential avenue to satisfy funders and investors in the independent film business.
As Ben Kempas points out in comments on the post, the debate is timely given the attention on film funding in Scotland at the moment. Any institutional funding or investment for film must have a strategy behind it and underpinning such a strategy must be the intelligent use of data. As a consultant on the Virtuous Circle initiative of the Scottish Documentary Institute and an academic researcher dealing with this topic, I was kindly invited to contribute some thoughts. I am particularly focused on how the film market becomes digitally mediated through various metrics.
Amazing data visualisation of traditional metrics for film evaluation by Tom Evans (atacatcalledfrank) – could we do the same for social impact?
Clarity of Objective
There is great merit in exploring non-financial valuation frameworks for creative works. Documentary film is a perfect example and many fiction features could also claim similar worth. However, this is an area fraught with complexities and enticing tangential asides. A great deal of policy literature on public funding investigates attempts to capture the non-financial returns on cultural or creative investment. This is a broad topic that falls in and out of fashion, but is yet to define stable results. The BFI reported on cultural value of film in 2011 and the general topic continues to attract attention of institutions like the RSA. But if the aim of this initiative is a practical outcome, these wide debates are diversions and crucial distinctions need to be made to define a goal more narrowly.Read more
Duncan Cowles, currently a volunteer in our team at Scottish Documentary Institute, made a video that, within 24 hours, had more than 350,000 views on YouTube. Can he teach us how to make things go viral?
Let me start off by saying that The Lady with the Lamp was a complete accident. It has been however, my most successful accident to date.
For those of you who haven’t seen the film here it is. (It’s only 3 minutes 49 seconds so if you don’t like it, you've not wasted too much time.)
On what was probably the only day I hadn't washed my hair in the entire year of 2010, my mum came into my bedroom to inform me that my bedside lamp was not quite up to house standards, and that I should invest in a new one. Unbeknown to her I’d been in the middle of filming what was (from what I remember) a really exciting video blog for my second year film at Edinburgh College of Art, Pooling Together.
Anyway, I more or less forgot about the whole experience until editing where I re-discovered my mum’s interruption. I called my brother through to my room to show him. His reaction told me that at least those who knew my mum would appreciate the footage. So I took the film, at the time creatively named LAMP and showed my classmates and lecturer David Cairns alongside my hand-in piece.
“Should I bother putting effort into a film ever again?”
The general consensus was that it was miles better and more entertaining than the film I’d spent eight months making. “Should I bother putting effort into a film ever again?” I asked myself.
Showing my mum and some visiting family members was the next step. Safe to say they all (Mum included) got a good laugh out of it, and my Grandma suggested a new title, The Lady with the Lamp, named after Florence Nightingale. I was all set to attempt submitting to film festivals.Read more
So here's an idea.
Last week I attended the Global Entrepreneurial Leaders conference, in short GEL, organised by the Scottish charity WildHearts and hosted by RBS in its campus-like headquarters in Edinburgh. As a filmmaker, it is rare to find yourself in the presence of politicians, billionaires, bankers, accountants, school kids, teachers, the third sector as well as an inspiring businesswoman from Uganda – at the same time. At the core of the conference was the idea of compassion in business and celebrating 'entrepreneurial spirit' in Scotland and beyond as a way out of economic and emotional poverty.
How did I find myself there? A free ticket. Why I got that is less interesting than how GEL made me think and feel. Listening to WildHearts' thought leader and founder Mick Jackson (a former musician), to big-name representatives from RBS (Chris Sullivan), to the Scottish Government (John Swinney) and to Tom Hunter (pictured), digesting the discussion of entrepreneurship and values among business leaders, I got a sense that perhaps the film industry has a way to go itself, implementing 'compassion' in its processes.
Even I catch myself thinking, well, "I work in documentary, aren't we contributing enough 'compassion' or social impact, by just doing what we're doing?"Read more
Ben Kempas, SDI's Producer of Marketing and Distribution (PMD), shares his Top Ten Tips on how to get the most out of Distrify, a key tool for "selling movies socially" across the web.
At the Scottish Documentary Institute, we've been using Distrify for over a year now as part of our Virtuous Circle initiative, testing it thoroughly and creating innovative connections with other tools.
First and foremost, it's important to understand that Distrify are not here to go out and sell your film for you. That's still your job. They're just providing you with one of the best tools to do so. Distrify is used by self-distributors and distributors alike, and its effectiveness is determined by the overall effort you're putting into a campaign around your film.
1. It's about engagement, not just sales
Start using Distrify for initial audience engagement while you have nothing to sell yet, as it will allow people to sign up for your email updates.
Make sure all your allies and outreach contacts will embed the Distrify player rather than a YouTube trailer. I find it debatable whether you really need a trailer on YouTube or Vimeo to begin with. These may reach more people – but they only allow for simple likes or comments. You won't ever be able to contact those people directly later on.
Launching Future My Love at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, we were pushing hard for everybody to embed our Distrify player, and it ended up being the most-watched of all EIFF trailers hosted by Distrify. Between the programme launch and the end of the festival, our player counted six times as many previews as the next best trailer.
2. Use the player to announce screenings
List your upcoming festival, cinema, or community screenings in the player. Not only will it draw attention to those events, more importantly, it will make potential audience members elsewhere want to know when they can see it where they are. The "I want to see this!" button is invaluable for gathering email signups.
3. Connect it to your database of followers
We tend to get more signups through a film's Distrify player embedded in various places than through a form on the respective website for that film. Make sure to export lists of your Distrify followers and import them into the general database you're using to reach out to your audience. It's absolutely crucial to have such a central place, as you can't rely on social media alone to gather your followers (remember how restricted and expensive it has become to actually reach all your Facebook fans).
In our case, the central platform is a NationBuilder community organising system. Upon import, we automatically tag people with the film they signed up for and any products they accessed. The file from Distrify will tell you who agreed to receiving email blasts and who didn't. It is paramount to respect these choices.
But don't just think about mass blasts. The more individual your emails are the better. For example, you could contact people just after they've seen your film on Distrify and ask them for their thoughts, and maybe to share their feedback on your website?
4. Connect it to automated DVD fulfilment
Distrify does not only sell streaming rentals (TVOD) or downloads-to-own (DTO). You can offer any product through their store, be it a DVD or merchandise such as posters or T-shirts. Up to now, this meant the order was processed by Distrify but it was up to you to fulfil it and send out that DVD in reasonable time.Read more
As part of our Virtuous Circle initiative, we've partnered with Moving Targets, a Scottish-based knowledge exchange project exploring new media audiences. We recently tested Visual Engagement, a tool for developing innovative approaches and strategies for audience engagement. The tool has been developed by Angela Fernandez Orviz.
So what's this tool good for?
Visual Engagement is a brainstorming and planning tool to be used at the beginning of a project. Supported by the visual representation of a variety of engagement forms, it helps creators to map out their audience engagement strategy while keeping the big picture in mind and aiding formulation of an action plan.
With the aid of the visual cards we brainstormed how different groups of audiences could be involved at various stages in the creative and production process.Read more
Editor's note: 'The Nightshift' in this article refers to Carol Cooke's interactive documentary series The Nightshift, not to be confused with the Bridging the Gap short documentary Night Shift.
Arriving at Crossover Lab 2 in Antwerp, I felt like a definite contender for Channel 4's hit series Faking It. Targeted at “creative professionals with a unique crossmedial concept” and billed as “the answer to all your questions”, it seemed like the perfect course for me and my latest project. The Nightshift originally began life as a photo documentary on prostitution which I had developed for the BBC's Why Poverty pitch. However, having spent the summer on ESo Doc learning all about the wonders of multi-platforming from the likes of IDFA's Caspar Sonnen and Katerina Cizek from the National Film Board of Canada, I was beginning to get a wee bitty overexcited about The Nightshift's cross-media potential and had a lot of questions that needed answering. So Crossover couldn't have come at a better time and I was delighted when I found out I'd been accepted.
What I'd failed to realise however was that by the end of this five day workshop, I would be doing a live pitch at the 2011 European Games Summit in front of a panel of award winning 'Games Masters' and some of the biggest names in the industry. It was at this point total panic set in and my Faking It journey began because, what I'd failed to mention in my application, was that I hadn't actually played a computer game since I was 12 so my last experience of gaming was as a skateboarding Bart Simpson on my big brother's Amiga. And now, 16 years on I had just 5 days to develop my very own game and convince some of the biggest players in the industry that it could be a hit. Cue Faking It titles and an utterly exhausting but totally inspiring following five days...Read more
Although this headline may sound like it, this is not really a post about the independence debate in Scotland. It's more about what independent filmmakers can learn from politicians when it comes to nation-building.
I explained in my previous post about the Virtuous Circle why it's particularly important for documentary producers to take their audience with them across projects, rather than starting from scratch with every film.
In tech speak, we want a toolkit that combines Customer Relationship Management (i.e. your audience) with a Content Management System (i.e. your films, each on a dedicated website) – and fully integrates with event management, fundraising and social media.
It was during last year's election campaign of the pro-independence Scottish National Party that I first came across powerful software called NationBuilder, geared towards political use but flexible enough to be used for all sorts of campaigns, including outreach to those niche audiences of documentary films...Read more