Field Building

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Fledgling is committed to strengthening the social issue documentary field and to sharing what we have learned from our grantees, our partners and our work. Our goal is to build the capacity of our grantees and social issue documentary filmmakers working on projects designed to educate, engage and achieve positive social change. We believe it is important to:

    • Raise the profile of social issue documentary film
    • Provide platforms to test and deepen audience engagement ideas
    • Foster connections among diverse stakeholders
    • Build outreach and audience engagement skills among our grantees and others interested in using film to advance change
    • Assess and communicate documentary film’s impact on individuals, communities, corporations and policymakers


The Fledgling Engagement Lab

In Spring 2014, Fledgling launched The Fledgling Engagement Lab with support from The Ford Foundation. The Lab is an incubator for documentary film projects with the potential to inspire and catalyze social change. The intensive 18-month program, which includes a residency followed by ongoing mentorship and on- and off-line programming, is designed to support participants who are focused on maximizing the impact of their projects. The Lab's goals are to lay the important groundwork for strategic audience engagement campaigns, foster key relationships among participants, build skills and expertise, and facilitate new opportunities and methodologies to achieve impact. Participating films have the potential to inform the field and showcase the power of film.

Film Festivals, Programs and Other Events

We have supported a number of festivals, programs and events, such as Good Pitch, Rooftop Films, True/False Film Festival, Environmental Film Festival and AFI DOCS, all of which provide strong platforms for social issue documentaries. Our funding has supported panels and discussions, created space for cross-sector convening, as well as tested new approaches to audience engagement.


Thematic Residencies

In partnership with Chicken and Egg Pictures and Working Films, we have supported a number of thematic grantee residencies: 
Reel Girls, Reel Power, Reel Education, Reel Food, Reel Economy. Each residency brought together a group of filmmakers all working around a similar issue and provided opportunities for them to strengthen their audience engagement plans and learn from others and share their projects with nonprofits, activists and funders.

Documenting and Communicating Impact

We believe that it is critical to track and share the impact of social issue documentary film. We support our grantees in their efforts to document and assess the impact of their projects. We also provide support for the development of tools, like Sparkwise, that we believe can strengthen efforts to capture and share the film’s impact.

Research Papers and Case Studies

We are committed to sharing what we have learned with our grantees and with the field. We have authored papers and also share case studies that focus on the work of our grantees and what they have learned. Check out our Resources page for more information.