Transmedia -- Making Change Across Mediums

by Daniel Alpert,
Executive Director, Kindling Group,
Executive Producer, See3 Communications
Guest Columnist,
Beth's Blog

I became a documentary filmmaker to tell meaningful stories that explore social issues and inspire change. When I started out, the “broadcast, festival, and screenings” model of distribution dictated community engagement strategies that were more linear, and limited. We knew that if our film was compelling, we could break through to the people in the audience — and maybe they would help get the word out about the film and the issues it explored.

Today, it’s a whole new ballgame. The digital tools we have at our disposal are limitless — allowing great stories to reach more and more people, and providing new opportunities for recruiting advocates, changing policy, public education, and creating real change on the ground. Knowing your audience remains essential, because each platform is a new arena for expression, and a new avenue to engage different targets and users. But simply put, cross-platform campaigns are the future of documentary film, and issue advocacy.

My latest project is called @home, which explores homelessness in America through the story of Mark Horvath (aka @hardlynormal on Twitter). Mark is an e-activist who interviews homeless men and women, and shares their stories across every digital medium he can find — YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Google +, you name it. Just like Mark, @home is moving beyond the old models of documentary film, using social media, web video, and a smartphone “game for change” to to spark a conversation about homelessness, and how we can solve it.

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