Of course, this film has “impact.” 

Oh, wait. What?

Whatever we call it — impact, social action, engagement, etc.– many independent creatives are taking a rigorous look at how their films are influencing people and movements in these uncertain times. Of course, there’s a wide spectrum of perspectives, roughly ranging from “I deliberately make films to spark social change” to “Art has personal but incalculable impact; that’s the change I care about.”  Some, but not all funders expect and encourage formal “impact campaigns,” along with measurable outcomes.

As equity and ethics are centered, as financing and philanthropy shift, as social movements face new threats, and as distribution is increasingly perceived as streamer-dominated, questions are mounting. Even the definition of film “impact” is up for grabs. It’s time to take a clear look at the range of practices (especially promising new approaches), to advance peer learning, and to educate/engage funders and other partners. 

For many reasons, this inquiry is complicated by power dynamics and other transactions, which is why we hope to lift up key findings that are often difficult to talk about publicly. With this in mind, Active Voice Lab is launching ImpactE><plored. Using the highly anonymized conversations with makers, funders, and other allies that led to Prenups for Partners and How Do We Know, we’re inviting established and new leaders in the field to one-on-one conversations and small group discussions to interrogate the current state and future of “impact.” With your help throughout 2024-25, we’ll analyze, share, and ideally elevate this crucial discussion. 

To learn more, participate in a focus group or anonymized conversation, or share related resources, please contact info@activevoice.net.