Story Leads to Action presented the final installment of the 2011-2012 screening season on May 17th . The screening consisted of two films from TheStory of Stuff Project: The Story of Stuff and The Story of Broke and sought to uncover what it takes to create a viral campaign that packs a punch!
The Story of Stuff, "is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world." (x)
The Story of Broke "calls for a shift in government spending toward investments in clean, green solutions—renewable energy, safer chemicals and materials, zero waste and more—that can deliver jobs AND a healthier environment." (x)
Christina Samala and Alison Cook from The Story of Broke spoke about the “best practices” for developing and expanding the online presence of a social campaign, from the grassroots to full-fledge viral presence. The wonderful director and producer Mona Nicoara led and moderated an enlightening discussion throughout the evening.
This last installment of Story Leads to Action 2011-2012 d allowed for an interesting shift in perspective, as the panelists were strictly activists and did not initially come from a filmmaking background. Stated best by Christina, “We are not movie makers, we happen to make movies. We are first and foremost activists.” This comment framed the evening’s discussion, allowing for an understanding of a different perspective when it comes to the combination of social activism and filmmaking.
When The Story of Stuff was launched in 2008, the initial benchmark was to reach 50,000 people. As of 2012, it has reached 15 million views, has been viewed in every country at least once, and translated in 23 languages. Surprisingly, that number reached into the millions. The common demographics are faith communities and teachers within all levels of education.
The initial success of The Story of Stuff led to the successful development of seven more stories – with an eighth story to be released in July 2012.
The goal of the project was to create conversations and keep them going through online content. In the early stages of creating The Story of Stuff, Annie Leonard used the brown-bag lunch discussion format, speaking in front authorities on the various topics included. A frequent consideration was to distill the message into comprehensible segments without dumbing down the content.
Social media has helped others take ownership of the content and be empowered to share with others. –This is what has led to the most impactful social outcome. Because of social media and the accessibility of the series, people are able to insert themselves into the narrative of such an influential social change story. People need to be reminded of their powerful potential.
The best way to develop the social media movement for a project is to tap into the network of information and activists that already exists. Women are the base of the community and not all generations have access to online outlets in order to develop mobilizations. As Alison stated, “You preach to the choir so they keep coming to church, and then you deploy your choir to the world.”
Other issues that are important to consider when launching a viral campaign include:
1. Know the outreach. -- Who is your most receptive audience? Where can you mobilize the most people into action, and how will that action trickle down to those on the fence about your topic?
2. Show your appreciation. -- Anything you can give to those who have trumpted your story and made a difference will make your audience and demographic feel special and emotionally invested in your project.
3. Teasers. -- Post teaser footage if you can. This will also help develop audience investment.
4. Go to the Grassroots! -- Grassroot organizations LOVE new films on their specializations or topics of interest. It gives them new texts to use to empower and mobilize people interested in their subject areas. New fuel lights fresh fires!
For more information on the impact of The Story of Stuff, how you can get involved in making a change, and where to see the shorts check out The Story of Stuff Project.
Thank you to all who came out and supported Story Leads to Action during the 2011-2012 season! What a great year of powerful screenings and discussions!