FILMS FOR ACTION
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F.A.Q.
Patreon Questions

Contact us and we'll get it sorted out.

To quickly troubleshoot the issue:

Did you try signing in to Films For Action and it said that the email you entered isn't found?

In that case, you may still need to sign up for a Films For Action account.

If you already have an account and it uses the same email address you used when creating your Patreon account, we'll have to dig a little deeper.

Yes, after you've signed in:

Hover over your profile icon in the top right (or click on mobile devices) and select Patron Films.

You can also bookmark this link or search for a particular film in the search box above.

Go to https://www.patreon.com/pledges and click "edit" next to your Films For Action pledge. On the next page, you'll see an option to "Edit or Cancel Membership" under the update button. 

 

Here is Patreon's help page: 

Cancel my membership – Patreon Help Center

#1 HDMI Cable ($0-10)

One simple, surefire way would be to connect an HDMI cord from a laptop or desktop computer to the TV. This will let you display what's on your computer on the TV. If you don't have a spare cable lying around, they cost about $10.

 

#2 Cast websites from your laptop using the Chrome browser ($0)

If you have a newer TV, you may be able to use the "Cast" feature on the Chrome browser from your computer. 

  1. Open the Chrome browser on your computer.
  2. Add the Cast extension from the Chrome Web Store.
  3. Visit any website in Chrome.
  4. Click the Cast button in the Chrome browser and select your TV.

 

#3 Cast websites from your laptop using Chromecast ($30)

If your TV isn't natively compatible with Chromecast, you can purchase a $30 Chromecast device (available online and at many stores) that plugs into your TV to easily cast any webpage to your laptop (videos can display in fullscreen).

 

#4 Mirror your Android phone or tablet screen to the TV

See exactly what’s on your Android device by casting your screen to the TV.

  1. From your Android phone or tablet, open the Google Home app.
  2. Tap the left-hand navigation to open the menu.
  3. Tap Cast screen / audio and select your TV.


#5 Mirror your Apple phone or tablet with Apple Airplay 

Visit Apple's support page for details.

 

#6 In the future...

We'd like to make an FFA mobile app that has the cast feature built-in, but we're still in the research phase. Until then, casting with Chrome or using an HDMI cable are our 2 favorite options.

I have a question about hosting film screening events

The short answer is, it depends.

In the vast majority of cases, the feature-length documentaries on our site are considered for "Home Use Only." This means you can stream them to a group of friends in your own private residence but you'll need to get permission for anything beyond this, such as public settings, with or without an admission cost.

However, the videos and trailers on our site do not have the restrictions that feature-length documentaries have and are okay to be streamed. 

To find out if you need to pay a "public performance" fee (PPR), go to the film's official website to find out. There is usually a 'host a film screening' section that will tell you or a contact page where you can ask directly.

If you have a unique situation or are unable to pay the fee they're asking for, we highly recommend you email the filmmakers and tell them your situation (venue, audience size, low personal funds, the admission cost, etc).

It's really simple, and they will likely offer to lower the fee or waive it entirely.

The fee will be anything from $20 for the cost of the DVD to $100 - 150 for community screenings. 

Yes.

In most cases, you need to get permission from the filmmakers and buy the DVD at whatever rate they've set for community screenings.

Getting permission is also called getting the Public Performance Rights, or PPR's. This is something we get asked about a lot but it's actually pretty easy.

You can do this by going to the film's official website. There may be a "Host a Film Screening" option where you can go through a process they've set up, or you can find a contact email address and send them an email asking for permission and explaining your situation.

Here is a sample email:

Hello. I'm the main organizer for a small non-profit group that screens progressive documentaries at our local theater in Lawrence, KS, and we'd be interested in getting permission to screen the DVD of the film at an up-coming (one time) screening. We charge a low $3 admission to cover the $150 cost of renting the theater and other related costs. Any proceeds that are left over after go towards building a better independent media in our local town (see more at www.filmsforaction.org).

If this is possible let us know. Because the last several screenings we've done have brought in an average of 50 to 70 people (just enough to cover our expenses) we have very meager funds, but we'd love to show the film! :) 

Thanks so much for your time. Though we are low on funds we are happy to work on promoting the film through our website and newsletter, Facebook page etc. 

Thanks again, Your name

Your Organization Name
Your city

 

The cost of the PPR's will be different for each film. Just released, larger budget or studio pictures will often charge a fee, often in the $100 - 150 range, so be prepared.  This fee may be reduced if your event is free, but usually, it will be the same.

Indie filmmakers will sometimes let you screen the film for free (besides the cost of the DVD) but to find out you'll always want to get permission first.

If the cost is an issue early on, there are plenty of excellent "low-hanging" films to choose from. For many older films, or less known documentaries, the filmmakers will often waive the PPR fee for you simply because they'd like to see the film shown and are no longer concerned about recouping their costs.

Also, many filmmakers openly encourage screening their films without seeking permission at all. This can almost always be determined by going to the film's website.

Although the first place to look would be the film's official website, the screening rights for most documentaries are sold through larger distribution sites.

Here are the main sites we recommend:

Media Education Foundation (You will need to email them to get a discount)

Bullfrog Films (You will need to email them to get a discount)

Green Planet Films 

Video Project 

Collective Eye Films

California Newsreel

Icarus Films

Here are 3 frequently asked questions answered via Green Planet Films.

When do I need PPRs? Examples? 

How many times have you seen the phrase "For Home Use Only" on a videotape and wondered if it was really OK to show the program to students in a classroom or a library setting? While there has been a lot of confusion in this area, the U.S. copyright laws are quite clear in offering guidance on this question. The question can easily be answered by examining the context in which the video is being shown.

First, you'll need some background. The "public performance" of an audio-visual work is the exclusive right of the copyright holder to show their audio-visual work in public and charge for that performance. However, the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, Section 110 (1) provides an exemption for certain performances of videos in the United States. This law has come to be known as the "classroom exemption" and provides the basis for responsible and legal use of videos in an educational setting, provided certain criteria are met.

There are four main criteria that must be met before an educator should feel comfortable in showing a videotape or DVD in their classroom. The Copyright Act states that the performance of an audio-visual work “by instructors or pupils” in the course of “face-to-face teaching activities” of a “non-profit educational institution” in a “classroom or similar place devoted to instruction” is exempt from the copyright holder's exclusive right to perform an audio-visual work.

The Report of the House Committee on the Judiciary, Report No 94-1476, which accompanied the passage of the Act in 1976, provides assistance in interpreting the four requirements of the classroom exemption.

1) The term "instructors" is defined as the designated teacher of a class and may also include a guest lecturer or substitute teacher. "Pupils" are members of the enrolled class.

2) A performance is only exempt if it occurs during "face-to-face" teaching activities. According to the House Report, instructors and pupils need to be in the same general place, but don't necessarily need to be able to see one another or be in the same room. Excluded from the exemption is broadcasting or other transmissions from a location into the classroom, whether by means of radio or television or open or closed circuit. (In a future article, we will address the various types of technological devices used to play video in schools and what is commonly considered to be an acceptable use.)

The “teaching activities” requirement is explained by the House Report to encompass systematic instruction of a wide variety of subjects, but does not include performances, regardless of their cultural value or intellectual appeal, that are given for recreation or entertainment purposes. The exemption, therefore, would not apply to non-instructional performances used as filler, for reward or for motivation.

3) According to Section 110(1), only performances by nonprofit educational institutions may take advantage of the classroom exemption. The House Report provides examples such as dance studios and language schools as profit-making institutions that may not take advantage of the exemption. Although the law states that profit-making institutions do not meet the explicit requirements of the classroom exemption, according toNimmer on Copyright (1999), Section 8.15[B][3] , a leading legal treatise on copyright law, the exemption may be interpreted to apply to private, nonproprietary educational institutions that charge tuition or other fees to meet operating expenses.

4) The House Report also explains that a performance is exempt only if it takes place in a “classroom or similar place devoted to instruction” in which the audience members are of a particular class. For example, performances in an auditorium or stadium during a school assembly, graduation ceremony, class play or sporting event are not exempt unless the audience members are of a particular class. If the performance is not in a classroom, then the “similar place” must be a place that is actually used as a classroom for systematic instructional activities like a library, studio, workshop, gymnasium, training field, the stage of an auditorium or the auditorium itself. 

So, if all of the conditions of the classroom exemption are met, it is permissible to show a legally obtained video or DVD in a U.S. classroom or school library without obtaining permission from the copyright owner even if labels like “For Home Use Only” appear on the outside of the video cassette. The “classroom exemption” supersedes these written warnings of the copyright holder.

Even if all of these conditions are not met, you still may have rights to use the audio-visual work in various settings under the doctrine of "fair use," which we will explore in a future article. Another alternative would be to obtain the copyright owner’s written permission for the intended use.

This article was created to provide you with general information and may not address your specific question or situation. Your specific question or situation may change the legal implications. In addition, laws are subject to change and varying interpretations and each jurisdiction has different laws and regulations. Consequently, this article is distributed with the understanding that neither the author nor publisher is rendering legal advice or professional services, nor does it form an attorney-client relationship. Please be sure to consult with an attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction before taking any action on your specific question or situation.

Do I Need Public Performance Rights to show films?

Yes you will in some cases..see examples below. 

Showing a film to a group may require obtaining public performance rights. It is a public performance if ANY of the following are true:

* the screening is open to the public
* the screening is in a public space – access is not restricted
* persons attending are OUTSIDE the normal circle of a family and its acquaintances

Examples of public performances:

* showing a foreign-language film to the community for cultural enrichment
* showing a film to your club or organization
* instructor showing a film in the classroom for curriculum-related purposes, but inviting persons outside the class to attend
* instructor showing a film to the class for curriculum-related purposes, but in a public or unrestricted-access location

Examples of non-public performances:

* privately viewing the film in your room with friends
* instructor showing the film to officially registered students in a classroom, where content of film directly relates to course.

What is Fair Use?

An excellent description can be found at American University's Center for Social Media.

The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education.
This document is a code of best practices that helps educators using media literacy concepts and techniques to interpret the copyright doctrine of fair use. Fair use is the right to use copyrighted material without permission or payment under some circumstances—especially when the cultural or social benefits of the use are predominant. It is a general right that applies even in situations where the law provides no specific authorization for the use in question—as it does for certain narrowly defined classroom activities.

This guide identifies five principles that represent the media literacy education community’s current consensus about acceptable practices for the fair use of copyrighted materials, wherever and however it occurs: in K–12 education, in higher education, in nonprofit organizations that offer programs for children and youth, and in adult education. 

We're so glad you're motivated to show one of the films on our site!

Films For Action doesn't actually host the majority of films in our library. 

Instead, we're more of a catalog of what is available out there on the internet. 

We also don't own the rights to any of the films, so we can't give permission to do a screening, but we can point you in the right direction if you need help with that.

Please send us an email via our contact page for help. 
 

 

How does the site work?

Your reputation serves as a general mark of how much others on the site trust and value your contributions.

You gain reputation points whenever another user rates something you added 3, 4 or 5 stars.

You can lose points from low ratings (1-2 stars).

You will also get a small amount of reputation from rating content on the site. 

 

Yes!

We officially launched the pay-per-view section of our website in April 2015. 

This section features films from Vimeo On Demand, Youtube, and our own in-house Video On Demand service.

Our mission is to provide the most definitive library of social change films in one place on the internet, available to watch for free or for a few dollars. With this in mind, launching our own VOD service felt like a natural fit.

Read more about our service here.

If you're a filmmaker and would like to feature your social change doc on Films For Action, please get in touch.

First, do a search for the video to make sure it hasn't already been added.

Then go to the Add Video page and paste the Video URL into the form and hit submit. We will draw as much info from the URL as possible.

More Part Urls
If the film is broken up into multiple parts, enter the first part's URL as the primary video, and then add the rest of the URL parts here. Parts must all be from the same video host.

Alternatively, if there are multiple good videos on the same subject, that would work better grouped together as a theme, rather than being posted separately, you can post related videos as parts.

For example, if you've found several videos covering a major protest event (think G20, G8, WTO), add the best video as the primary video, and then add more supporting video clips as additional parts.
 

Title
Next, please clean up the title field to display the title only (removing the name of the site the film is from, for example, or other extraneous text), and double-check to make sure all the main words are capitalized.

If the video is a trailer you don't need to mention that. We'll add that text automatically when you submit.

Thumbnail
Find an image to upload, if one isn't added automatically. 

Category
Choose the category for the film:

  • Documentary: Feature films usually 30 minutes or greater in length. 
  • Trailer: a preview of a documentary
  • Video: Any video that doesn't fit another category. 

Length
Enter the length in number of minutes (120).

Website Url (optional)
Enter the film's official website or related action campaign. 

Description
For the video description, one paragraph is ideal, but longer descriptions are okay. Most of the time you can simply paste the description provided with the video, but if no adequate description exists, please write your own summary of the film from a third-person, neutral point of view (think Wikipedia), and reserve your personal opinions for comments on social media after you have posted the video. One to three sentences is ideal.

Subject Tags
Add one to three subject tags that best categorize the film. 

That's it!
Hit submit and you'll be good to go.

After you've submitted the video, it will go to our spam filter where we'll manually approve your submission. After that, you can share the video on social networks to help get the video in our "Trending" section. 

You can also edit the video you submitted by hitting "EDIT" on the video's page.

Unfortunately, we are not able to provide funding for documentary projects. Our project is dedicated to helping filmmakers promote their films after they've been released. 

That said, here are a couple resources for funding:

Sundance Documentary Fund Program

The Pollination Project

Kickstarter

If you know of other resources, please contact us so we can expand this list. 

No. We receive requests about this almost daily, but no, we do not. 

Thanks to our supporters, our library is ad-free and 100% supported by member donations, which currently allows us to pay 1 full-time staff member, Tim Hjersted.

Most donations are between $3-$10 per month.

We do not receive any corporate or government funding.

 

If an article or video gets a low rating from our community or staff it will be hidden from the site, but still visible and accessible from the profile page of the user who posted it.

Content can be hidden for a few reasons. A few examples include being overly self-promotional, containing back-links to businesses (SEO link farming),  promoting disinformation, being poorly presented or appearing uncredible, adding content not relevant to the site's mission, or simply being "not that great."

Videos can also sometimes be hidden because the video was already posted to the site and we defer to the original submission in most cases.

If something you add gets hidden, don't worry about it too much. Take another look at our Adding Content guide for tips on what kind of content to add, and have another go at it.

After it passes our spam filter, unrated content shows up under New Member Submissions on the homepage and in our library via the EXPLORE menu when you remove the "best" filter.

When a submission is rated highly by our staff or enough members, it will appear in our library with the "best" filter applied, which is the default. 

The best way to get your unrated submission to show up on the site is to share it on social media.

If it gets enough views, it will naturally show up in our trending sections, which appear on the homepage and on every content page.