Meaningful Media Now

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Meaningful Media Now: September

As an organization interested in media impact, our “water cooler” chatter around the office often includes TV series and movies that moved us, music we’re addicted to, and media trends that affect us. Read on to see the meaningful media and cultural phenomenons HI staff has been talking about in September:

  1. Featuring: The Blackfish Effect
  2. Speechless
  3. Hell or High Water
  4. Green Day: Revolution Radio 

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Social Issue Networks and Film Festivals: Media Makers Analysis

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In our final installment in this series on film festivals and social networks, we’ll look at what insights a media maker can learn from our analysis in order to further optimize their festival application strategy as they answer the big question:

What festivals could introduce my film to topic-relevant social issue influencers?

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Social Issue Networks and Film Festivals: Festival Analysis

Figure 1: Top 15 film festivals by number of social issue influencers in each of the 16 social issue networks. The blue color indicates a top-tier festival (as identified by POV), and green reflects a non-top-tier festival. X-axis normalized across all issues.

This is the third of four posts mapping online social networks; today we’ll be focusing on film festival organizations and their reach within these networks. (If you’re just joining us, you can read more about the series here and here.)  Specifically, we’ll be addressing the following questions, as posed by a hypothetical festival organizer:

Which festivals reach social issue influencers? Where does my film festival rank among film festivals’ social issue engagement as a whole? What social issue network(s) have I attracted attention from in the past and which should I target in the future?

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Social Issue Networks and Film Festivals: Issue Advocates

Figure 4: Breakdown of four Human Rights network sub-groups by the film festival accounts with the four highest network followers.

We’ll begin our multi-part analysis of social networks from the perspective of an issue advocate asking the following questions:

Who is talking about my issue online? Do these individuals cluster around specific topics? How do the various issue networks compare in size and structure? Which, if any, are connected to (or likely to be influenced by) film festivals?

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Social Issue Networks and Film Festivals: Our Method

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There are many reasons to participate in a film festival. For documentary filmmakers in search of an audience, festivals provide access to communities of interest and practice, and hold promise for distribution deals and broader public exposure. From the largest and best-known—think Sundance, Tribeca, and South by Southwest—to smaller, themed events like the Green Film Fest, there are many festivals to choose from; by some counts, this number is well in the thousands. Criteria such as reputation and popularity steer filmmakers and attendees toward the most prominent among them. But no two audiences are alike; the extent to which a film may or may not resonate with its viewers is, for many hopefuls, a great unknown.

It’s certainly not an easy nut to crack. Luckily, emerging methods from computational social science can help us begin to distinguish among festival audiences—and provide concrete information to help guide participants to those events most appropriate for their particular project.

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Meaningful Media Now

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As an organization interested in media impact, our “water cooler” chatter around the office often includes TV Series and Documentaries that mirror past and present, sentimental TV specials, and media trends that affect us. Read on to see the meaningful media and cultural phenomenons HI staff has been talking about in June:

  1. Featured Analysis: The People vs. O.J. Simpson and O.J.: Made in America 
  2. Zika Virus, the Olympics and Agenda Setting
  3. Shark Week
  4. The Evolution of Broadcast Censorship

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HI Investigates the Impact of POV Documentaries, Part 2: TV Broadcast Time

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In the previous post, we discussed analysis of POV’s screenings, surveys, and web analytics. In this post, we will discuss the effects of TV airtime and channels on viewers’ behavior. For background on the partnership, please see the previous post.

With the recent spotlight on the effects of television airtime on audience size and engagement, Harmony Institute and POV wanted to know how a primetime broadcast affects the film’s impact, specifically how it affects the information-seeking behavior of visiting the films’ web pages to learn more about the film and the issues it covers. We cannot know for sure what motivates someone to visit a documentary’s POV page, but there is a well known relationship between the buzz that results from one set of people hearing about something, enjoying it, and telling their friends, and those people being motivated to learn more.

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HI Investigates the Impact of POV Documentaries, Part 1: Screening Events

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In the summer of 2015, Harmony Institute (HI) kicked off its partnership with POV (a production of American Documentary Inc.) to perform research into the impact of the organization and their lineup of films. Since 1988, POV has brought unique perspectives to the American public through independent documentaries. The program supports national television broadcasts through PBS, digital distribution of films through an online viewing platform, as well as educational and community screenings.

In this post, we will discuss how HI used POV’s screening event survey data to examine how different activities at screening events affects the impact those events have on participants. In part 2 we will discuss the effect of TV airtime and channels on viewers’ behavior.

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