What Are Your Tips for Partnering with Creative Artists and Filmmakers?

This month we are delighted to feature a question recently asked in our March webinar, Funding film to educate, engage and achieve social change. This webinar took a fascinating look at family foundations investing in films and social action campaigns to advance their mission and create positive social change.

Our webinar participant inquired about the following:

“What is the difference between working with creative artists and filmmakers, compared to other non-profits and other grant relationships?”

Responses from our March webinar panelists included:

I think it is different in that we look for people who are thinking in new and creative ways about how to lift up the key issues that we’re dealing with. What I find in working in this space, and certainly in all of our courageous storytelling work, is that creative artists and filmmakers are looking at how to get out of the box, and how to tell a story in multiple different ways that can impact the issue. Nonprofit leaders – who are often fabulous and inspiring individuals – have their particular strategy and also for very good reasons must be advocates for the overall health of their organizations.

Filmmakers and artists don’t look at these issues in quite the same way. They have an artistic vision, certainly, but they can provide opportunities for new ways of thinking about old and intractable problems.

— Ellen Friedman, Compton Foundation


I would say that really powerful results can be achieved when you get all of the key players together early in the process. For example, bring the CEOs or the communications directors of your nonprofit partners together to meet with the filmmaker. It’s a really great kind of creative tension that can emerge if you get together at the early stages, which is what we’re trying to do with our investments in film. You want to try and inspire those little bits of spark at the beginning of the process and also to figure out where you’ve tried things that didn’t work. We try not to impose on the nonprofit leader, but start that conversation early. And when both parties are flexible, this really raises the boat for all of us that really care about the issue and helps us work to find solutions together.

— Liz Jaguzny, Campion Foundation


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