The Hartley Media Impact Initiative at Auburn equips faith leaders and communities with media tools to amplify their prophetic witness and advance their justice work. Hartley Impact broadens the network of faith communities committed to leveraging the power of story for social good.
At a time of extreme division, it is our intention to gather together spiritually-rooted activists, organizers, and leaders who are eager to build the capacity to work with beautiful and challenging films to foster more loving, holistic and harmonious communities.
We believe in the power of film, documentary especially, to strengthen the social movements we care about. But we also know that to do that effectively requires deliberate and intentional practice. In addition, people don’t always know where to begin. The film world can seem opaque to faith-rooted communities who may not be sure where to turn to find vetted films, filmmakers, or related resources. Filmmakers don’t always know how best to connect or partner with faith communities as thought partners or generally.
Hartley Media Impact Initiative has designed FaithDoc Impact Labs to fill this gap. These labs came about through hosting a series of private and public meetings that aimed to understand why the film and faith communities we are connected to do not work together as often or as powerfully as they might. We hope to cultivate a root system of partners and collaborators across the country with the interest and capacity to work creatively with us, and with film, to advance movements we are a part of.
The FaithDoc Impact Labs are designed primarily for faith-rooted organizers, volunteers, events coordinators, seminary students, outreach persons, and religious leaders (pastors, priests, rabbis, imams, teachers, etc.). Our aim is to:
Inspire participants, illustrating what’s possible through case studies of film initiatives that have advanced movements for social and climate justice.
Build the capacity of participants to strengthen their own efforts with film by deepening understanding about how film campaigns work; the ins and outs of distribution; where the film-impact conversation is today, industry variables to consider, and more.
Introduce resources and tools to support these efforts. The Prenups for Filmmakers and Faith-Rooted Partners, for example, is a tool that Hartley Media Impact Initiative commissioned from Ellen Schneider that is modeled after Active Voice’s Prenups for Partners, to support the cultivation of more informed and accountable partnerships. Hartley Impact has also developed a content pipeline of documentaries that both surfaces issues we need to address in these troubled times and provides spiritual meditations to foster resilience.
Hartley Media Impact Initiative is also partnering with PBS’S POV programmers and with David Wilson, director of the Alethea Project, which works to ensure documentary film access to Evangelical spaces, in collaborative media training of film protagonists. Documentary film protagonists, many with difficult stories to tell, will receive training in handling audience questions during film festival Q & As and as part of national film impact campaigns in order to bring justice issues to audiences around the country. We ask these film protagonists what they want out of participating in these events in order to set a new industry standard.
In 2019, the Hartley Initiative also hosted a convening of the first in a series of Climate Story Labs, and plans to host another Lab in 2021. These gatherings bring together creative and campaigning expertise and a laser determination to accelerate climate communication. The genesis of and agendas for these Labs are created by Exposure Labs and Doc Society with the best of Good Pitch Impact Labs.
Macky Alston, a former Senior Vice President of Auburn, described at a March, 2020, London summit of these Climate Story Labs how documentaries and other media platforms can strengthen climate movements among communities of faith. Here’s a link to his talk: vimeo.com/407917042
Finally, the Hartley Media Impact Initiative oversees a fiscal sponsorship program for documentaries that focus on the impact of religions on current global issues. If a film below has a Donate button, that film is fiscally sponsored by Auburn Seminary. Please give!
For more information, contact Sarah Masters at [email protected].