Want to Start a Films For Action chapter in Your City? Join us!
Our city chapter platform provides a growing suite of free technical tools and resources to make creating your own robust, independent media hub for your city as easy as possible.
Our City Chapters lie at the heart of our mission to provide independent and alternative media for local communities. By networking these chapters via a single international hub, our ultimate vision is to see thousands of city chapters springing up across the world, providing a people-powered media that exists explicitly to support the movements working to change the world.
At the city scale, through a combination of public documentary film screenings, the chapter's city website, local campaigns, and other uses you can think up, our chapters aim to side-step our dependence on corporate media and correct the frequent local deficiencies in coverage of local activism efforts. By creating our own media channels, we won't have to rely on the local or national media to cover our stories. We can tell these stories ourselves -- providing a direct-access medium for people in our cities to stay informed, get involved and organize with others.
To accomplish this, our chapter websites feature:
- Decentralized and community-powered content: anyone can add local content like events, groups, or republished and original writings for the local news feed.
- A calendar of events focused on promoting all of the allied activist events happening in the city at any given time.
- A directory of local activist groups, united by our common vision for a better future.
- A local news feed featuring local news and articles written or submitted by you and other chapter members.
- A unqiue domain url (filmsforaction.org/cityname) to give your chapter a dedicated web space to post your events, news and updates.
- Film screening tool-kits for twenty of the best documentaries we've previously screened, including flyer templates with original artwork, sample press releases, and sample action guides.
- Local chapters are connected to an international social change network and information library full of online films, articles and take action ideas contributed by the community.
Sounds awesome! So what's involved in forming a chapter?
The Films For Action chapter model is a highly flexible platform that allows you to choose how much time you'd like to spend on it, how you'd like to use your chapter, and what you want to focus on.
We're big fans of decentralized organization, which means that we're happy to offer advice, answer questions you have and provide other forms of support, but how you and your team decide to run your chapter is all up to you.
Here's a general run-down of the most common chapter activities:
- Gather your initial team. Seek out enthusiastic friends or people you know in the activist community that are interested in media issues. Keep an eye out for individuals with specific skills or experience that will be helpful, including writing, public speaking, graphic design, and social media knowledge. But as long as you have enthusiasm and at least one friend to do this with, you can do anything! (Films For Action originally got started by just a few friends in 2006.)
- Organize a certain number of public film screening events per year. We would encourage six to nine as the ideal to strive for, but it's really up to you.
- Post your events to the event calendar on the website and post events from other activist groups if you'd like to use your chapter as a local activist event hub.
- Republish articles and videos to your "Local News" section regularly if you wish to use your chapter as a news hub.
- Network with all of the progressive/radical activist groups in your city and encourage them to regularly post their events and news updates on the city site, as well as add their group to the group directory.
- Create a Facebook page or group for your chapter.
The point of all of these activities is to create a strong independent media center for your city - a place people can trust to stay informed on the things that matter, to connect and organize with others in the community, and to build the foundation upon which a movement for change can truly flourish.
Breaking our dependence on the corporate media and informing ourselves via our own media channels is the key to breaking the stalemate that keeps our social change progress slowed to a crawl. Once this bottleneck is broken, we'll be able to rapidly accelerate our efforts for positive change in virtually every other area of the social change puzzle. From true sustainability to social justice to direct democracy - we believe a vibrant independent media is the healthy soil from which all of these aspirations can grow.
This sounds like a project I can get behind! Anything else I need to know?
Just a few more things.
- Films For Action doesn't officially support, fund, or endorse political parties or candidates. We decided that Films For Action can best serve our mission as a non-partisan organization. You're free to support specific legislation, campaigns or ideas, just not politicians or political parties.
- Creating a chapter is free and you keep all of the proceeds made from your chapter's film screenings. What you decide to do with the proceeds is up to you, though we expect most chapters will use their funds to support and grow their chapter - to buy new films to screen, mainly, and to cover other local FFA expenses. Charging a low admission fee for the screenings or accepting donations is one of the primary ways you can generate funds to buy more films and keep the project self-sustaining. If all the other members of your chapter are okay with paying you or another member for doing a larger portion of the work, or you'd like to try to make this a potental part-time job, you're certainly welcome to give it a try.
- You are welcome to accept sponsorships from like-minded businesses that are inline with our values (we'll trust your judgement on this). For instance, some of our Lawrence, KS chapter events that had to do with food were sponsored by a local organic food restaurant and a community grocery co-op. We used the funds ($150 in each case) to cover the cost of renting the venue or purchasing the rights to a film.
- These city chapters are really a big experiment to see what is possible. We have a general guide for what we envision for the chapters (outlined above), but we're excited to see what other people will bring to the project. We hope you'll take the basic premise of it and run with it, expand on it, and make your city chapter unique to the needs of your city and the passions of the members involved.
The basic framework is: decentralized, but cooperative - sharing the same basic goals and values, but each chapter is autonomous and free to grow and become what it wants to become.
- We also recommend checking out our guide to hosting film screenings for more specific info on that.
If everything sounds great and you're ready to dive in...