Filmmaker Resources

Explore and enjoy our curated list of resources for environmental and wildlife media makers everywhere.

Filmmaker Resources

Compelling storytelling, films, emerging platforms, and social media are all tools that can engage diverse audiences and have meaningful impact. The materials offered here are for environmental media makers everywhere. We will continue to expand and evolve this curated list of case studies, reports, impact toolkits, and resources. For questions, suggestions, or if you are interested in posting your content here, contact Maggie Burnette Stogner, stogner@american.edu

Case studies

Gasland 

Before Josh Fox's Gasland was released in 2010, the practice of fracking for extracting natural gas, also known as hydraulic fracturing, had escaped scrutiny. This film was a catalyst for raising awareness about the toxic environmental impact of fracking. It is an example of the powerful impact a film can have and was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award. Using an investigative, verité style, Fox traveled to twenty-four states in the U.S. to explore the effects of fracking, and discovered tragic consequences to people, animals, and land. The film was made with a modest budget of around $30,000 dollars but raised over $200,000 towards creating a highly successful impact campaign. Several cities in Pennsylvania and New York banned fracking. Fox screened the film in hundreds of cities in the US and worldwide, intentionally going to dozens of affected communities to empower them to rally support using the film. He provided people the means to engage with the campaign through social media and through the film’s award-winning website. In addition, he screened the film several times with legislators and top governmental agencies like the EPA, to influence policy.

IMPACT FILMMAKERS TOOLKITS

The Center for Environmental Filmmaking strives to facilitate and provide information on how to leverage films for meaningful change. Organizations like the Fledgling Fund and Doc Society (aka BRITDOC) are two organizations that provide excellent tools and materials for increasing impact. Planning impact from the outset with a strategic plan, budgeting, distribution, partnerships, campaigns, audience engagement, and impact assessment are some of the topics explored. 

REPORTS

Overviews and industry reports can be valuable tools for looking at the big picture. Here are a few recent ones of interest, made available by American University’s Center for Media and Social Impact.

2018 State of the Documentary Field Study

A new report by the Center for Media and Social Impact in association with the International Documentary Association and The National Endowment for the Arts investigates what the opportunities and challenges are in today’s documentary field, as well as questions of diversity, access and career sustainability.

When Movies Go to Washington

Written by Caty Borum Chattoo and Will Jenkins

This study examines how documentary films can influence public policy at the federal level. 

Movies and Grassroots Community Engagement

Written by Caty Borum Chattoo and Will Jenkins

This study investigates the role of documentary films in state and local public policy.

Gasland Film Poster