Connecting a new generation of UK Impact Producers

By Maria Thomas on

Doc Society is a non-profit foundation headquartered in London and New York, committed to enabling great documentary films and connecting them to audiences globally. Written by Beadie Finzi for Doc Society. Supported by Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy’s Funding Network Projects 2017.

As part of our field building activities, we have been heavily involved in training and mentoring a new generation of global Impact Producers. Impact Producers are a new professional class of strategists, fundraisers, project managers who are working with documentary film to reach the audiences that matter. The role was really only defined around 6 years ago but since then freelance consultants and small businesses have sprung up across Europe, the US and beyond.

This new professional class is also growing in the UK and after conducting a survey of the field back in the spring of this year, we heard back loud and clear that the community wanted and needed to meet up. To identify new colleagues, to network and learn more about each others specialisms, to discuss the state of the field in the UK and the capacity building that is needed to create a sustainable environment for this work.

Just as films have producers to manage the creative and financial process from script to screen, documentary films also need Impact Producers to take the film from completion to impact. An Impact Producer delivers a film impact campaign. They devise strategy, they fundraise for the campaign work, they secure key partners, they execute or oversee the delivery of the campaign and they evaluate the campaign. What we have seen are Impact Producers emerging from a variety of professions. Some come directly out of working in film, many have come from marketing and PR, some from distribution or a campaigning background. The group that assembled in London at Esmee Fairbairn Foundation on August 31st were just such a mix of backgrounds and interests.

One of the results of the survey and reinforced in conversations throughout the day, was that individuals are looking for ongoing professional development and there was an appetite to organise smaller working groups around a single topic, to share resources and learning. Secondly, we established that many Impact Producers find themselves working in isolation on single projects and the need for more structured networking feels evident and easily remedied. Where beyond providing professional support for one another, we were struck by the evident potential for greater collaboration between teams on films and across campaigns and even regions of the country.

Meanwhile in the room we began an exercise on a shared google doc of mapping all the UK civil society organisations which different Impact Producers have partnered with over the past few years. To give a more comprehensive  overview of the variety of organisations from NGO’s, foundations, media partners, technology companies and brands who are partnering with films. The idea is that this will form the core of a new shared resource for the whole community going forward. As well as triggering a strategic conversation for  identifying potential major partners in the UK who could provide structural support and funds that the field urgently needs.

Attendees of the UK Impact Producers convening on 31st August 2017 included: Paula Vaccaro, Jo-Jo Ellison, Anna Sowa, Louise Orton, Elhum Shakerifar, Iris Andrews, Ben Kampas, Natasha Coleman, Rebecca Ashdown, Nicola Cutcher, Cathy Mahoney, Karen Guthrie, Lucy Wilson, Kate Nash, Fleur Nieddu, Sarah Mosses, Isy Barr, Esperanza Moreno, Dionne Walker, Eleanor Mortimer and Khaled Gad.

“So great to see old and new faces around the table yesterday and get into some discussions about helping each others work.” Sarah Mosses

“Stimulating and exciting to meet so many ace people doing such an array of incredible jobs. It was a real pleasure to meet you all. I’m definitely committed to help keeping the good Impact Producer ship afloat into the future!”  Cathy Mahoney

Find out more about Doc Society via their website.

Posted by Maria Thomas

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