Our general guideline is: only add the best of the best, and filter out the rest.
We want Films For Action to be a clearinghouse for the ideas, information and perspectives essential to creating a more just and sustainable world.
Before posting something, do a search for the content you want to add to make sure someone hasn't already added it.
A Few Quick Tips
We look for content that:
Is in English or has English sub-titles
Has been ignored, censored, misrepresented, or under-covered by the mainstream media
Feature stories covering the progress of social & environmental movements
Is of national and general interest, regardless of where the person lives.
Has the potential to go viral with a large audience - if you can't see lots of people wanting to share it, it's probably not up to snuff
Focus on the root problems that affect social progress and the main bottlenecks impeding change
Focus on the root solutions that will break the bottlenecks, getting right to the root problems
Cover stories of people living and building the world they want, now
Are fairly non-partisan and avoids unnecessary antagonism, divisionary rhetoric, fear-mongering, hype, etc
Expands our ability to experience universal empathy and compassion for all people and the planet, and avoids appeals that reinforce artificial divisions (including nationality, political affiliation, race, culture, religion, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, immigrant status, etc)
Offers a fresh or alternative perspective that steps outside of the established "frame" of debate
Has a long "shelf-life," containing information and ideas that will remain relevant and useful for people browsing the archives of the subject tag(s) that the content was filed under
Is incredibly well made or well written - If the ideas are great but the presentation is poor, find the content in a form that makes the same points but with a more polished, engaging and entertaining presentation
Hazards to be Mindful of: Disinformation and Propaganda
There is a high volume of unreliable information on the internet, from both mainstream and alternative sources. It takes time to research and discern what is accurate and what isn't, but the quality and usefulness of our website depends on keeping the erroneous opinions and false-statements to a strict minimum. Our recommended news links on the left column of our Independent News page provides a good starting point for reliable information.
Here are a few examples of films that contain mis- or disinformation, and which use classic propaganda techniques to establish their conclusions:
Please take the time to research issues with a fair, critical, but open-minded attitude, and do your best to avoid adding content that contains misinformation, disinformation, or is otherwise misleading.
Distinguishing the gold from the mud can be difficult, of course, and takes time, especially when diving into this information for the first time. If you're interested in improving your media-literacy skills, we encourage you to check out these resources:
Tips On Adding Articles
Articles are original pieces written by you. Articles should follow the format of a typical news story or op-ed, the type of content you will see reproduced as headlines. Please see our general content guidelines; the same apply here. In contrast, please do not add personal blogs (which are more informal, loosely structured, and usually less relevant to a general audience).
Here are some more general tips:
Make sure to cover all the basics; give readers the who, what, where, why, and when. Giving readers all the relevant context is one of the main elements that distinguish news and op-ed articles from more personal blogs, which usually assume the reader already knows many things about the blog's subject.
Add some impartial distance between you and the subject matter. Even if the story is about you, the emphasis should be on the value of the content for readers
Avoid self-promotion. Articles can contain a discrete level of self-promotion, but the majority of the article should be about the issues, taking yourself out of the picture. Two good examples would be this and this.
Be selective about what you publish. If you have 10 great articles from your "back catalog" that you want to publish, make the tough call and only publish the best 2 or 3 of them.
Only post one per day. Let people savor and digest what you just published before adding anything new. It's a basic psychological fact that if you forward your friend five articles in a single email, they're not likely to read any of them because the sheer bulk is a turn-off. However, if you pick just one of those to share, the one they just HAVE to read, they'll be much more likely to read it.
Play editor for a moment and ask yourself if the article is ready to be published, or if it needs a little more work. Could you see the article being published by your favorite independent news publication? We're obviously not all professional writers, and we certainly don't expect everyone who publishes on our site to be one. On the contrary, we encourage new writers to publish their works and to make this a place where everyone can "become the media," a place where we can all become more experienced writers. That said, could you imagine your piece being able to hold its own and fit in with the other content on the site?
Tips on Adding Videos:
So, what makes a film a Films For Action film? In addition to our general tips above, we encourage adding videos that:
Cover issues that people can take action on (issues that are timely, relevant to the current situation, and tangible)
Do not rely on over-the-top, in-your-face emotional appeals or hyperbolic presentation to make thier points.
Are intellectually honest
A Note about the Medium
Documentaries, like all media, are inherently persuasive. The goal of the medium at its highest ideal is to document reality in an honest, un-biased, informative and entertaining way. But of course, realizing this ideal is not an easy task, and it's certainly prone to abuse. Film-makers can easily use the various story-telling techniques at their disposal to appear impartial, while in reality they distort the truth by omission, by unfair emotional appeals, dramatic music, slanted language or other trickery. Even given the best intentions, to put the whole sum of an infinitely complex world into the span of a feature length film is a task for the impossible.
Given a limited time frame, you have to put emphasis on some parts of the story and downplay others, which inevitably creates a point of view. You want the audience to feel emotional resonance with an issue, but you don't want to unfairly manipulate their emotions. All this brings up a debate about whether all documentaries are propaganda in some form, and especially this new generation of activist documentaries, which don't try to hide the fact that they're advocating a point of view.
So, what's our litmus test for deciding whether a documentary succeeds at realizing the ideal of the medium or is simply propaganda for the film-maker's personal agenda?
Here it is: if you researched the issue yourself for a hundred hours, would you still come to roughly the same conclusion? If the emotional resonance and intellectual understanding that you gained from watching this 90 minute film is roughly the same as if you had researched the issue for dozens of hours, then the film has done its job. Of course, in due diligence, this means doing some research on the films we watch, and A/B testing our impressions.
So, if a film cuts a few corners to get us to that emotional/intellectual epiphany by the end of the film, we think it's an acceptable tradeoff so long as the core foundations of their conclusions are solid.
Tips On Adding Actions
The Take Action section is about DOING.
Actions are specific actions that anyone can do, either individually or as a group.
All actions should be non-local. That is, regardless of where someone lives, they should be able to participate in a meaningful way.
Because our site is geared primarily to people living in the United States, please only add actions that would be relevant to a U.S. audience. If an action is international in scope, great!
For more advice, check out our F.A.Q. on adding actions.