The Represent Justice Impact Campaign Open Call will award in-kind impact campaigns to films and series addressing mass incarceration, and helmed by people who are currently or formerly incarcerated.
Represent Justice turns stories into action to change the justice system, while building the capacity of communities impacted by the carceral system. Together with filmmakers and film participants, we launch impact campaigns that connect award-winning films and series with movement leaders, and uplift community-led solutions to protect vulnerable communities, rather than reinforcing cycles of violence and harm.
Since 2019, Represent Justice has led campaigns for five feature films that address issues in the criminal justice system: Just Mercy, which included 650 screenings and activations that influenced the commutations of sentences for 24 people and supported concrete progress on legislation in California, Ohio and Michigan; On These Grounds, which has featured over 200 events, ranging from youth-facilitated healing dialogues, to trainings with educators; Apart, which included targeted screening events across Ohio mobilizing audience members to support reentry organizations; Master of Light, with events reaching arts community leaders and fostering arts programing inside prisons and jails; and Sansón & Me, which is a direct campaign collaboration with currently incarcerated film participant and co-creator Sansón Andrade.
Our impact campaigns are centered around building capacity and narrative power for currently and formerly incarcerated film participants, who play a leading (and compensated) role on each campaign. We provide services to participants throughout the campaign, from mental health support, to public speaking training, to hands-on support for their creation of campaign material collateral. They are also part of a network of peers we convene through our Ambassador Program, which trains formerly incarcerated creatives in filmmaking and narrative powerbuilding.
Can you help us spread the word about the Impact Campaign Open Call to your network? We have a social toolkit for sharing.
Through our first Impact Campaign Open Call, we will select one film or series to receive an in-kind impact campaign from Represent Justice in 2024.
We will collaborate with the filmmakers and film participants to develop an impact strategy, and then we will launch and oversee the campaign. Our campaigns last approximately six to eight months.
The campaign activities will depend on the impact strategy, but the in-kind grant will include a combination of the following services:
- Impact strategy design
- Mental health support for filmmakers & film participants
- Monthly advisory stipend for primary filmmakers & film participants
- Media and speaking training for filmmakers & film participants
- Support for creation of campaign material collateral
- Advocacy landscaping & analysis
- Partnership outreach & engagement
- Implementation of impact screenings & events, including all logistics
- Negotiation of speaking appearances for filmmakers & film participants
- Digital storytelling on Represent Justice platforms
- Peer networking with Represent Justice Ambassadors
- Impact evaluation
The 2024 Impact Campaign Open Call is open until Saturday, September 30, 2023 at 11:59 PM PT.
While we will select one project through our first open call, we will grant up to two more impact campaigns launching in 2024 in later months. We encourage you to apply to the Impact Campaign Open Call because all eligible applicants will automatically be considered for additional impact campaigns granted in 2024.
Apply today for an in-kind impact campaign for your film or series designed and led by Represent Justice in 2024.
Our application for the 2024 Impact Campaign Open Call closed on September 30, 2023.
We will announce the selected project in November 2023, based on input from Represent Justice staff, Ambassadors, and partners. For finalists, we will schedule a meeting to speak about your goals for the impact of your project.
We want to make our application processes accessible.
We can schedule a call to discuss the application questions, and you can also let us know if you prefer to submit cell phone videos instead of a written application. To schedule a call, email our team at [email protected].
Before you apply for an in-kind impact campaign, please make sure your project meets the requirements below. Questions? Check out our FAQs, and if you need additional support, email our team at [email protected].
1. Project Type: Your project can be scripted or nonfiction, and short, feature-length, or series format.
2. Release Date: We are looking for projects with an intended 2024 impact campaign launch, to coincide with your film’s key release dates (key release dates are your project’s festival premiere; theatrical, broadcast or streaming release; and/or self-distribution release plans). Please note your project is still eligible if you your festival premiere is in 2023, and additional distribution is planned for 2024. We are not able to consider projects released prior to 2023.
3. Public Screenings: Screening events are a central activity within impact campaigns. Please do not apply if your film or series will not be available for public impact screening events.
4. Geographic Focus: We are looking for films that address the system of mass incarceration in the United States. At this time, we’re not looking for projects focused outside of the U.S.
Our process of selecting projects will be based on the four areas below.
Across all of our programs, Represent Justice is committed to building narrative power for currently and formerly-incarcerated communities, who are often excluded from accessing the resources to document and distribute their own stories. Your project should be meaningfully led by currently, or formerly, incarcerated people. Examples are projects that are (co)directed, (co)produced, or (co)written by a person who is currently, or formerly, incarcerated.
2. The artistic power of your story addresses mass incarceration, extreme sentencing, or the importance of dignity for people impacted by the justice system.
Over the past fifty years, rates of incarceration in the United States have soared, disproportionately impacting Black and brown communities, and today 2 million people are incarcerated and 3.8 million are under justice system supervision. We are looking for films and series that examine the systems driving mass incarceration and shine a light on the harms these systems perpetuate; explore the humanity and dignity of people who are currently incarcerated or who have been incarcerated; and/or share a vision of a justice system that protects people who are vulnerable, rather than continuing to reinforce cycles of violence.
Across our programs, Represent Justice has a focus on youth justice and gender-inclusive justice. We encourage you to apply with projects that cover a broad range of issue areas, as noted above. However, we are particularly eager to see projects that shed more light on how young people and women are impacted by the justice system, which are themes that are too often overlooked in the media.
3. The opportunity for impact.
Stories well told shape the narratives we tell about ourselves, change our culture, influence policies, and are focal points for investing in community-based solutions. We are looking for projects where the film team as a whole sees the potential for their project to influence people and lead them to new perspectives.
We are looking for films and series that feature a call-to-action for viewers, which helps us to reach core audiences and prompt them to act.
We are also looking for projects where partner organizations and movement leaders see an opportunity to embed a film within their ongoing work.
4. Values, ethics and accountability to participants and featured communities.
Media shapes our society, and a values-based approach to storytelling is critical to building an equitable and just future. In our impact campaigns, Represent Justice strives to meet the standard set in the Documentary Accountability Working Group’s Framework for Values, Ethics, and Accountability in Nonfiction Filmmaking. We are looking for projects that center the needs and experiences of the people and communities who are participating in the film, with transparency and care, throughout filmmaking and distribution.
Is this a grant of funds, or is it in-kind services?
This is a grant of in-kind services. For the project selected, Represent Justice will work closely with film teams and film participants to develop an impact strategy, and then we will launch and manage the impact campaign.
If I’ve received an impact grant from another institution, can I still apply?
Yes, you are encouraged to apply! We’d want to know what support you have already received, and what activities or programs the support covers.
Do I need a fiscal sponsor to apply?
No, you do not need a fiscal sponsor to apply because this is a grant of in-kind services.
Our project team includes a formerly incarcerated Advisor, but they are not credited as a Director, Producer or Writer. Should I still apply?
Yes, you can still apply. However, as you can see in our criteria section, authorship is one of the four criteria we use to select projects.
My project focuses in part, but not entirely, on the justice system. Should I still apply?
Systems of inequity reinforce each other, driving cycles of violence and harm. This means films and series that focus on the justice system cover other crucial themes as well. You should apply if your project addresses the justice system as a primary theme, even if your project addresses other primary themes, such as racial equity, disability rights, or the child welfare system. However, you should not apply if the justice system is not one of the primary themes addressed in your project.
I am planning for a release next year but I don’t know the details. Can I still apply?
If your release plan is not yet confirmed but you are in advanced conversations with distribution partners for a 2024 release, you should still apply. Release plans include key milestones like your project’s festival premiere; theatrical, broadcast or streaming release; and/or self-distribution release plans.
I am not sure if my project will have distribution. Can I still apply?
Yes, you can still apply if you are in conversation with distributors for release next year, or if you are planning for self-distribution next year. You should not apply if you do not know if you will be releasing your project next year.
I have other questions! What should I do?
Contact us at [email protected]. We’re happy to answer questions!