The Business of Social Documentary Filmmaking - Jennifer Huang
What makes a “successful” social documentary film? How do these filmmakers measure their “impact,” how do they get funded, and what is it really like to be in the middle of this journey?
Today we talk about the “business” side of making independent social documentary films.
Jennifer Huang, Founder of Treeclimber Media, is a director, producer and fascinating character. She’s currently making “The Long Rescue”, a film about human trafficking, and a short film “This Adventure Called California.”
She teaches us everything she knows about navigating the film industry and the challenges faced by independent films.
2:00 — Case studies of very “successful” social documentaries
4:00 — How they define “impact” and set goals
9:43 — The thorny topic of distribution of documentary films
11:43 — ROI of getting your film into festivals, Netflix, Amazon Prime
15:30 — Traditional model of film distribution
18:34 — How film rights are negotiated
21:09 — What film aggregators do
25:03 — Getting your film on online streaming platforms
27:52 — Differences in making a film for theaters vs streaming
33:13 — Fundraising and other revenue streams
42:19 — Slice of Jennifer’s life: what it’s really like
Correction: The film about sexual abuse in the military is called The Invisible War, not The Hunting Ground as mentioned in the podcast — though both are from the same filmmaker.