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The Fledgling Fund & Social Impact Assessment

Thursday, September 11, 2014


The Fledgling Fund is a private foundation 'driven by the passionate belief that film can inspire a better world'. The list of films it's supported is truly impressive, lots by and about women. Here's just a few– Brave Miss World, Budrus, Girl Rising, Leaving the Life, Miss Representation, Mothers of BedfordSaving Face, The Invisible War, The Light in Her Eyes. Other significant projects include The Mask You Live In and Seed: The Untold Story. And there are many many more.

I love it that each project on the Fledgling Fund site has its own social impact page, powered by Sparkwise. On those pages I can read a synopsis and about the filmmakers, see the trailer, get a snapshot of the project's communities and social media reach, find out who its main supporters are. Learn about how I can become a supporter and/or viewer. There are graphs! There are maps even!

I can't show you a full screenshot of any of the pages, many of them rich and complex. But here's a partial example, from Seed: The Untold Story, chosen because I'm raising bee-loved plants from untreated seeds at the moment and, years ago, I was deeply affected by New Zealander Barry Barclay's The Neglected Miracle (1985), which covers similar themes.



The Fledgling Fund funds only docos, as far as I can see. But there are of course narrative films that aim for social engagement,  Sophie Hyde's wonderful and multi-award-winning narrative feature 52 Tuesdays for instance. Its website has a front page not unlike a Sparkwise page and its 'My 52 Tuesdays' is–
...a worldwide participatory project where people build and share a unique portrait of a year in their lives. Every week, every Tuesday, a question is posed to everyone involved – you answer by writing down your response and taking your photo with it. See answers to the same questions from your closest friends and creative people all over the world. Share your photos or keep them private. It is a project about you, set in time, distinctly personal and lovingly communal – but only if you choose it to be so, because ultimately it is a project about choice. And only on Tuesdays. How much will you share?
Branded entertainment does it too. Miranda July's contribution to Miu Miu's Women's TalesSomebody, has an associated app which seems like a lot of fun. It allows users to send a message to a friend and have it delivered, in person, by a stranger who is geographically near the recipient. I was thinking that it might be problematic to use Somebody in Welly, with its small population but 'The artist advises that Somebody works best with a critical mass of users in a given area; any social gathering can become a Somebody hotspot'. In the Huffington Post, Naz Riahi reported on her experience–
I was one of the first handfuls of people to download and use the app, zealously running all over Brooklyn and Manhattan to act out and deliver messages to strangers. The experience was exhilarating...It was a whole new way of communication and connection.
(Miranda July's website is content rich, too.)

To me, this thoughtful letter from the women at the Fledgling Fund, about whether and how to assess the impact of creative media, is both timely and useful, for all of us.  I like their Crafting An Impact Assessment Plan: Some Questions To Get You Started, too, which follows the letter.

This is also a Happy Birthday post for Ruth Gerzon and for her life's work, making a social impact.

September 2, 2014

To Our Community,


Over the past several months, Fledgling has participated in many discussions with fellow funders, filmmakers, practitioners and others who are all wrestling with the question of whether and how to assess the social impact of creative media, and especially documentary film. Emerging tools and platforms, like The Participant Index (TPI), Harmony Institute’s Story PilotSparkwise and ConTEXT, are attempting to capture social impact in different ways, many using techniques that rely in part on access to big data. We expect others will follow. Like many of you, we have reviewed these platforms and tools as they have evolved and have listened to the robust debate they have sparked, revealing the concerns and push back from many filmmakers and others about this increased focus on 'measurement'.  This came through loud and clear in Aggregate’s survey of True/False filmmakers released in July in which 62% of respondents answered “no” to the question “Do you think there should be metrics to measure the social change created by a film?”  In light of this, we have been thinking a lot about what all of this means for Fledgling, for our grantees, and for the field.

Read more »
 

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