• Set up a dedicated website for your Video for Change initiative, or a dedicated page on your existing website. Include information about the project (including its political and social context), anticipated release dates, updates on production, and trailers or clips. See this Recovery Boys example.
  • If you don’t have your own website or social media accounts already, set up a social media presence for the project. You can do this through dedicated accounts or by posting about it on your own personal social media accounts.
  • A reminder to keep sensitive, confidential or private information off all social media feeds while conducting outreach or engagement efforts. In many territories, social media channels are not secure, may be monitored and are a way adversaries can collect information easily about your network. (See Values and Methods: Risk management.)
  • Communicate directly via email with your contacts about the film or via chat groups and mailing lists.
  • Depending on your resources, set up pre-release screening events with potential partners and audiences.
  • Request and listen to partners’ issue-area expertise to increase the legitimacy of the initiative and to publicise why the initiative is important to the issue.
  • Join a pitching festival like Good Pitch. There you have seven minutes to pitch your film and associated campaigns to an audience of foundations, NGOs, campaigners, philanthropists, policymakers, brands and media. This can help ignite exciting collaborations to further your initiative’s goals.


  • Organise community screenings / grassroots distribution through community centres, places of worship, schools, libraries, individual homes and universities. Grassroots distribution may also simply involve handing out DVDs to community centres or community-based organisations. This is still the most effective tactic for screening videos to affected communities.
    Below you can watch ‘The Absolute Power To Choose.’ A short impact video that shows what can be achieved through community screenings when effectively combined with grassroots support.


    If you plan to host your own community screenings, here are two good example guides for hosting community screenings and discussions:: Friends of the Earth and Pray The Devil.

  • Release films via theatres, use a distribution company or self-release the video by directly renting a theatre(s) for a limited time to screen the film.
  • Enter your video into film festivals. These can be large international festivals, such as Sundance Film Festival or IDFA, or smaller, more local festivals. The Takes provides a useful Film Festivals Timeline and Short Film Depot helps filmmakers upload and send their films to major festivals.
  • Some organisations have their own platforms and distribution channels online — such as EngageMedia and Medicins San Frontieres.
  • Secure a community, national or international television release.
  • Use online screening portals, such as YouTube or Vimeo
  • Use social media portals, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat
  • Contact news outlets, either international or national, or look for local outlets that cover your area of concern
  • Use video on demand (VOD), such as iTunes, Amazon, Netflix or Google Play

Note: if your Video for Change initiative concerns issues where there is significant opposition or counter-narratives, the video may be subject to misinformation campaigns or efforts to discredit you. See the Risk Management section to consider how to manage these kinds of efforts, and see the Resources subsection here.


  • Solicit donations or commitments to volunteer from audiences.
  • Ask audience members (especially ones that are already partners with the project) to contribute their time to outreach and distribution of the video. For example, by hosting a screening, posting on social media or contacting their mailing lists.
  • Develop a screening kit to assist audiences to easily put on their own screenings and also to engage audiences in discussion and action steps. For an example, check out the screening toolkit for Who Cares About Kelsey.
  • Ask audiences to visit the initiative’s website or web page to learn more and activate online.
  • Ask and support members of the affected community to take leadership roles in speaking and presenting the video and/or the issues. This allows a shift in perception from passive bystanders to community members who are leaders, collaborators and partners.
  • Members of the affected community may want to form social media response teams to communicate directly with audiences. This will depend on their access and resources, and if exposure is safe.
  • Hold talking circles directly after a screening among various stakeholders, influencers and affected community members to allow them to air their perspectives and talk about solutions.
  • Connect audiences directly to partner organisations who are working on the issue. This enables the organisations to present concrete solutions, provide a framework for people to volunteer, and solicit donations to support the work of the campaign.
  • Support collective action from affected community members by connecting audiences to the community members and encouraging them to form informal networks of support (such as local action committees, talking circles, community-based organisations, or the like).
  • Ask community members and partner organisations to contribute written pieces, such as opinion pieces or long-form essays around the issue. For example, see this in-depth article by B’Tselem on issues they have addressed in various videos.
  • If your video has policy demands, have concrete actions people can take, from letter writing to joining a direct action.
  • Present the video to appropriate policy-makers who can be influenced to act on policy implementation due to the story and communities represented in the film.
  • Create and distribute related discussion and activity guides, fact sheets, talking points, curricula and other related materials.

Evaluate Your Outreach, Distribution and Engagement

Visit the Evaluation page to measure your research and planning.

Case Study: Who is Dayani Cristal?

Who Is Dayani Cristal? tells the story of one undocumented migrant who died crossing the U.S.-Mexico border into Arizona, as well as the stories of the lives his death touches.

Who Is Dayani Cristal? tells the story of one undocumented migrant who died crossing the U.S.-Mexico border into Arizona, as well as the stories of the lives his death touches. The film, produced by Gael García Bernal and Marc Silver, presents the unknown man as a representative of the issues faced by all migrants who follow his path.

Inspired by the story of the unknown man, the most affected communities and campaign partners, the film’s social impact campaign asked and created action around three core questions: “What can one unidentified skull reveal to you about the world?“ “What does it mean when your only viable choice for survival is leaving your home?” “Why are we investing in the dead asset of a border wall when we could be investing in human potential?”

Based on these three questions, the campaign aimed to animate and universalise the migration story, while creating direct pathways to action, and allowing audiences to go deeper into issues related to migration, gain more in-depth knowledge on partners’ advocacy work via original digital content, and participate in real world action.

The full case study is available here.

Case Study: Granito

Granito: How to Nail a Dictator spans four decades of Guatemala’s past history — specifically the genocide of over 200,000 Guatemalans — and the struggles by advocates in Guatemala, Spain and the United States to bring perpetrators to justice.

Granito: How to Nail a Dictator spans four decades of Guatemala’s past history — specifically the genocide of over 200,000 Guatemalans — and the struggles by advocates in Guatemala, Spain and the United States to bring perpetrators to justice. The documentary recounts the story of how its prequel documentary — When Mountains Tremble — and the efforts of witnessing and documenting human rights violations revealed the occurrence and extent of the genocide.

Granito and its outreach and engagement efforts laid the foundation for evidence at the trial of the dictator Efrain Rios Montt and contributed to the conviction of the dictator for crimes against humanity. It also further documents the impact that witnessing through film and video can have on efforts to secure justice.

You can see the full case study available here.


MIT’s Co-creation Studio The Co-Creation Studio is a new initiative at MIT Open Documentary Lab. A great resource with research and information on alternatives to a singular authorial vision.

Participatory Methods A site full of resources to generate ideas and take action for inclusive development and social change.

DIGITAL POWER Website with tips and tricks on using digital communication and media strategies to support powerful social movements. Offers a great list of tools and resources you can use to advance your impact campaign communications.