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The Aussie producer rallying audiences around social justice docos

Australian impact producer Alex Kelly reveals how she’s bringing grassroots climate change movements together with the documentary This Changes Everything.

Documentary filmmakers are quickly realising the benefits of having impact producers like Australian Alex Kelly on board, who make it their mission to connect the film with the right audiences.

It’s necessary for documentaries like This Changes Everything, which follows the people on the front lines trying to do something about climate change.

As an impact and distribution producer on the doco, Kelly’s goal was to find groups across the globe passionate about the issues.

“So it’s basically connecting with who’s organising things around climate change, economic justice, social justice and unions, and how can we share the film with them in a way that amplifies and supports their work,” she says.

In Europe, it led to 17 several event screenings with groups like Greenpeace, labour unions and Friends of the Earth.

“In Amsterdam they projected the film onto a coal power station and about 1200 people turned up,” Kelly said. “It’s amazing – there are these photos of the smoke stack and the film.”

They also had two standing ovations at their opening at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), where the film was runner-up for the audience award.

And their “crazy, simultaneous digital-theatrical-grassroots release” means it’s now opened in 65 cities in the US, on TUGG in Australia, on iTunes globally and for grassroots community screenings.

The documentary differs from your average climate change movie, because it seeks to galvanise audiences, instead of leaving them in despair.

“It doesn’t hold back from looking at some hard stories, but it’s actually a very, very hopeful film,” Kelly says.

In Australia, TUGG screenings have been set up in places including Lismore, where the Bentley Blockade has been successful in stopping coal seam gas proposals.

“And in Darwin, where there was a really amazing horse-back protest against fracking,” Kelly says.

Her hometown of Alice Springs is doing a screening and she says they have also heard from some remote Aboriginal communities in Arnhem Land and across the Northern Territory and Western Australia too.

“So I think over the next few months we’ll see all kind of unusual outdoor projections and different screenings,” she says, adding that they are partnering with GetUp and the Australian Conservation Foundation.

It means the film and movements end up working together.

“The film is being used as an organising tool to get people to come together to watch it and then have conversations about protests,” she says.

“So filmmakers are providing a really useful tool and movements are providing ways of distributing and sharing the film with audiences, so it makes a lot of sense.”

This idea of ‘impact producing’ is still relatively new, having emerged in the last five years or so, Kelly says.

Kelly found her way into impact producing through her work with theatre company called Big hART.

“Big hART uses arts and theatre to drive social change, so in many ways I’d been doing this work for about 15 years but it didn’t have a name,” she says.

“So it’s kind of been this amazing thing for me that I’ve been doing this work and not really feeling like I had a lot of peers and then I discovered that there was this global movement in film around documentary films.”

And it’s becoming more and more popular.

“Making a film is such a big undertaking and it takes so long that especially if it’s a film about a social issue, it makes sense to get everything you can out of that and connect it with audiences who are going to find it the most useful to drive their work,” she says.

To find out where This Changes Everything is screening in Australia, or to organise your own TUGG screening, visit https://tugg.com.au/this-changes-everything/