Working Together– “Share” vs “Contribute”

Here are the two most common ways that faith-rooted leaders and filmmakers are connecting.

“Share” a Story (that’s already made)

So far, this guide has focused on what can happen when an independent filmmaker tells a story, and shares it with (among others) faith-rooted leaders and groups. This relationship is often part of a broader Impact campaign that may involve multiple partners, objectives, funders, and other alliances. Examples include The New Black and Feeling of Being Watched. Some activities that filmmakers and faith partners might collaborate on include:

  • Convening a cross-sector “braintrust” or focus group to watch the film and envision how it might be integrated into ongoing work, received by various audiences, etc.
  • Designing film-based events and discussion prompts, drawing on each party’s experiences and expertise.
  • Getting the word out about the events, especially if they’re open to the public and/or the press.

“Contribute” to a Story (that’s in progress)

In this section, we want to address what might happen when an independent filmmaker initiates a film, and wants it to be as authentic and intimate as possible. (This often differentiates an independent film from quick turnaround television or reality fare, wherein the producer has little knowledge of the protagonist’s experience or community.) The filmmaker may approach a faith-rooted leader to help the leader take a nascent idea or work-in-progress to a new level. Then the filmmaker shares the film with audiences, often through a broader impact campaign. Example: The Armor of Light

Actions a faith-rooted leader might take to help contribute to a story might include:

  • Opening up doors for the filmmaker by making introductions to potential subjects, concepts or funders.
  • Appearing in the film as either an interviewee or as a subject or protagonist.
  • Commenting on cuts or otherwise helping to shape the story.

Obviously, “Contribute” is much more complex and nuanced than “Share.” Filmmakers and faith-rooted leaders who are considering the former should also read Prenups for Partners very carefully!

What Faith-Rooted Partners Should Know About Collaborating During Production

  • Collaborating in any form is complicated for all filmmakers, and unfamiliar to many. For those who originated an idea or project, staying at the helm of a project is as important as the artistry.
  • Many filmmakers who are “in progress” with their projects will be reluctant to promise what their work will accomplish, or even what it will look like, before it’s completed.
  • The amount of experience with faith-rooted relationships, strategic planning, will vary from one filmmaker to the next.


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