Schools Training

New Non-Profit Social Media Jobs for Grads of Film Schools in Canada

16 FEB 2012
Career Path : Arts and Entertainment

For some of today’s young filmmakers studying at film schools in Canada and the United States, there is a higher calling than Hollywood: the glamorous world of cause-driven films.

Non-profits around the world are increasingly dependent on social media campaigns, which have the ability to immediately reach thousands of potential donors, supporters and volunteers, but which require “content,” especially “video content.” Enter graduates of film schools.

In Canada and the United States, non-profits have distinguished themselves with such innovative video campaigns as the “Dear 16-year-old me” campaign to raise awareness about melanoma, which features a series of actual cancer survivors displaying their scars and telling their younger selves how old they will be when they receive their cancer diagnosis.

Could you envision making mini-documentaries for charities to post on Facebook after film school? Toronto film “Fight” by the Canadian Cancer Society won first place in the “large organization” category of the 2010 DoGooder Nonprofit Video Awards. If you think that a DoGooder award is more your style than an Oscar, then read on.

But Remember: A DoGooder Doesn’t Necessarily Rule Out an Academy Award

Smile Pinki, a short film that was produced for a nonprofit, actually won the 2009 Oscar for Best Documentary. And many Hollywood film people try their hand at non-profit film work at some point after film school. Toronto Walk-of-Fame inductee Kiefer Sutherland is featured alongside Lindsay Lohan and Jerry Seinfeld in the comedically named “Public Service Announcement not approved by American Jewish World Service.” This short piece was produced by Judd Apatow, who is perhaps best known for his movies Knocked Up and Superbad.

It’s not just celebrities that are graduates of film schools in Canada or the United States who have participated in some notable mini-documentary campaigns. Advice columnist Dan Savage (who actually studied theatre, before going on to work in – you guessed it – a video store) spearheaded the web-video-based It Gets Better project to help prevent suicide amongst lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered youth.

How Videos Help Nonprofits Reach their Audiences

According to ComScore, there are as many people over the age of 55 watching videos on YouTube as there are 18-year-olds. This statistic is of particular importance to non-profits, many of whom are trying to reach a middle-aged audience.

Also according to ComScore, visitors to retail web sites who click on videos spend on average two minutes longer on the site and are significantly more likely to buy something than other visitors.

Help charities find supporters by applying the skills learned in films schools. In Canada and the United States, there is growing recognition for this kind of work, as evidenced by the proliferation of such awards as DoGooder and the Lights. Camera. Help. Nonprofit Film Festival, which:

  • offers awards for best “call to action”
  • gives graduates of film schools in Canada and abroad a chance to showcase their work to a larger audience

Not Ready to Go It Alone?

There are an increasing number of production companies that specialize in producing short films for non-profits. This may be a good entry point for graduates of film schools. In Canada and the United States, this work presents another kind of opportunity as well. The New Mexico Business Weekly recently reported that the state’s filmmakers were weathering an industry slowdown by discovering a new niche: non-profit productions.

Knowing You Are Making a Difference as You Practice Your Art

Graduates of film schools in Canada and the United States can infuse their careers with meaning by engaging in non-profit work. One Montano video campaign, the Meth Project, a series of ads showing the effect that meth has on users’ families, was credited with reducing the meth use rate in the state by an astounding 60% within the first year. Imagine what a difference graduates from film schools in Canada and the United States can make!

Contact the Trebas Institute for more information on their filmmaking courses.