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    Any advice about possibly partnering with a Cancer Org for our documentary?
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    Senior Member puredrifting's Avatar
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    Hey all:

    This is a long shot to other producers who may have been in a similar position with their films, but I thought I would ask anyway to see what the brain trust here comes up with. We're producing a feature documentary about a sport. But unlike most sports documentaries, this one will end up being more about the subject's stories (two women) and journey toward their racing season than the racing itself. A character study of two women, if you will. That's largely because, like marathon running or most other forms of human powered racing, the best racers perform like machines, they don't vary in what they are doing much because it decreases performance so from a general viewer point of view, it's boring as hell to watch too much of, we'll show plenty of racing but just in little snippets throughout the film when something interesting or dramatic happens, not long representations of entire races themselves.

    Turns out that both subjects in the film have been touched by Cancer. One was diagnosed with the Angelina Jolie gene that is a genetic marker that predisposes her to developing breast cancer (her Mom has it too and her grandmother died of breast cancer). She will have to have a preventative double mastectomy and hysterectomy soon, which will obviously affect her life, racing career and she has to decide if she ever wants to have a family, she'll have to freeze her eggs, etc. It's all very dramatic and "Sophie's Choice" in a way (she doesn't have to have the surgery but her risk percentage is extremely high of developing the cancer) and she and her mom want it to be a big part of her story to publicize this and to help other women who see the film with awareness about how this genetic marker works. Our second racer's ex has had Cancer, so have several of her friends and relatives over the years so she is deeply involved with a charity that races and raises pledges and matching fund donations that are given to a Cancer charity, directly to help patients. So to be clear, she has not herself had cancer, but she is very involved with and dedicates her racing career to helping cancer patients.

    I thought that since we are micro budget and unknown at this time, it might be advantageous for us to align our documentary with a cancer organization and as we do our GoFundMe and go to sponsors, we could have an official endorsement or partnership with a Cancer organization, we could publicize them, they could feature our women and the film on their media outreach as well, which could obviously help us build an audience too, simply from visibility. A key component of marketing this story is to reach women who have never heard of this sport, don't know it even exists and show them a compelling story of these two strong, driven women as they pursue winning through an entire season of racing. We would donate a predetermined percentage of funds raised to a cancer organization, we could put that affiliation on all of our social media and even at the races, if we raise funds, people would know a percentage is going to help fight cancer as well as help us to tell the story of these women athletes who have both directly and indirectly been affected by cancer. We don't this film to become a "cancer documentary", but it is a part of each of the women's story in real life.

    My questions are:

    1. If you were in our position, would you do this (partner with a cancer org)?
    2. If so, would you approach a large entity (American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen, etc.) or a smaller, more grassroots org? We've never dealt with a cancer org/non-profit but I think our story, because it involves strong, kick ass, inspiring women who are living life to the fullest with a healthy, active lifestyle, might appeal to their message about how to fight cancer and how to deal with it.
    3. Any potential, unseen upsides and or downsides to pursuing this? Anyone know where to start? I can obviously just pick up the phone and make calls but I know it would be best to get an introduction to a person inside one of these orgs.

    Thanks for any advice, if you have been in this position or know someone who has. Being a micro budget documentary, we have to try to leverage anything we can for building awareness that our film exists and build an audience as much as possible so that when we pitch the finished film to OTTs, we have more than just a micro budgeted film about a sport that few have heard of, we have some awareness and an audience built up through social media and press. I've written enough press releases to know that anything we can offer that aligns us with a known organization lends credibility to our project. But perhaps this line of thinking is not strategically sound for a documentary? I am not sure. So far, we have approached one smaller cancer org and so far, the executive in charge doesn't seem particularly excited to speak with us about the details. Granted, it won't be a significant pot of money to come from our fund raising but from a marketing and image standpoint, both of our women are exceptional people, demographically are perfect for them (one is a 30 year old single professional, the other a 45 year old mom and teacher). We have so many other facets going on with planning the production and trying to raise funding that I am wondering if pursuing this affiliation is even worth it, it may not be. Thoughts?

    Thanks.
    Last edited by puredrifting; 04-17-2018 at 07:34 AM.
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    To start with, I've never done this in a documentary production context, but I have negotiated a number of brand sponsorships in the past, including with some household names so I can speak to that.

    1. If you were in our position, would you do this (partner with a cancer org)?
    Is your prime focus increased publicity? It will help everyone if you have very clear and specific goals and can demonstrate how the org can help fulfill those goals. E.g. "we want you to promote this on social media channel X, show our doc at event Y," etc. If you go into a formal relationship with a larger org, there will certainly be a contract, so you'll need to have thought of these things already.

    2. If so, would you approach a large entity (American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen, etc.) or a smaller, more grassroots org? We've never dealt with a cancer org/non-profit but I think our story, because it involves strong, kick ass, inspiring women who are living life to the fullest with a healthy, active lifestyle, might appeal to their message about how to fight cancer and how to deal with it.
    If you want publicity, starting with the org with the widest reach will make the most sense, but see my response to 3 below.

    3. Any potential, unseen upsides and or downsides to pursuing this? Anyone know where to start? I can obviously just pick up the phone and make calls but I know it would be best to get an introduction to a person inside one of these orgs.
    How much do you value creative control? The bigger the org, the more brand recognition they have and need to maintain, and the more creative control you lose. Their marketers, their PR people, their lawyers, etc. will all get involved. They'll all want creative approval. They'll want sponsor approval. A gofundme will make them nervous. There will be lots of red tape. They may want distribution rights, etc. It turns into a huge PITA that IMO is only really offset by them offering you lots of $$$, which it doesn't sound like you're even asking for here, so I don't know that it's worth it to try to get them formally involved.

    The upside is if you catch the right person with the right pitch, they could decide that throwing a lot of money at you is a good use of their resources, and suddenly you have a lot of budget taken care of.

    If you want to retain max creative control but still give yourself a shot at publicity then you could just shoot the thing as planned and then before release start contacting as many marketing folks as possible and ask them if they'd be willing to cross promote on their social media channels. Probably get yourself a decent chunk of the benefits with less of the headaches that way.


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    Senior Member puredrifting's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dcoughla View Post
    To start with, I've never done this in a documentary production context, but I have negotiated a number of brand sponsorships in the past, including with some household names so I can speak to that.



    Is your prime focus increased publicity? It will help everyone if you have very clear and specific goals and can demonstrate how the org can help fulfill those goals. E.g. "we want you to promote this on social media channel X, show our doc at event Y," etc. If you go into a formal relationship with a larger org, there will certainly be a contract, so you'll need to have thought of these things already.



    If you want publicity, starting with the org with the widest reach will make the most sense, but see my response to 3 below.



    How much do you value creative control? The bigger the org, the more brand recognition they have and need to maintain, and the more creative control you lose. Their marketers, their PR people, their lawyers, etc. will all get involved. They'll all want creative approval. They'll want sponsor approval. A gofundme will make them nervous. There will be lots of red tape. They may want distribution rights, etc. It turns into a huge PITA that IMO is only really offset by them offering you lots of $$$, which it doesn't sound like you're even asking for here, so I don't know that it's worth it to try to get them formally involved.

    The upside is if you catch the right person with the right pitch, they could decide that throwing a lot of money at you is a good use of their resources, and suddenly you have a lot of budget taken care of.

    If you want to retain max creative control but still give yourself a shot at publicity then you could just shoot the thing as planned and then before release start contacting as many marketing folks as possible and ask them if they'd be willing to cross promote on their social media channels. Probably get yourself a decent chunk of the benefits with less of the headaches that way.
    This is good, solid advice and you bring up a reality check for us that we hadn't thought of. We aren't really gaining any traction anyway with the one connection we have and we honestly have too many other logistical issues with production going on to pursue the Cancer org thing much anyway so I think we're going to pursue your final suggestion. Once we have a finished film and are trying to promote it, that may be a better time anyway. Then lawyers and entities can't really touch it, the film will be in the can and edited. They either like it as is or they don't.

    Thanks man!
    It's a business first and a creative outlet second.
    G.A.S. destroys lives. Stop buying gear that doesn't make you money.


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