By lance weiler, September 18th, 2008

By Lisa SalemThis is the second of four posts covering the film BLACK GOLD – a social-issue driven documentary co-produced/directed by brothers Marc and Nick Francis. The film joins the dots between coffee consumption in the west and coffee production in developing countries.

As I said last week, BLACK GOLD is remarkable because of the tangible social impact it has had on the issues it covers and because audiences rallied around the film and really took it as their own.

Last week, Marc spoke about the making of the film and how they engaged with NGO’s from very early pre-production to form relationships that helped them build their audience once the film was complete. We also heard how they levered their acceptance into Sundance 2006 to create waves around the issues the film covers.

In this next post – we chart how BLACK GOLD received more audience attention than Marc and Nick ever would have expected, how they managed this attention and levered it to it’s maximum potential – and how it was their very success that nearly took them under before they’d even had a chance to get going…

Marc Francis: AS FILMMAKERS, WE WANT OUR AUDIENCE TO BE EFFECTED IN SOME WAY WHEN THEY LEAVE THE CINEMA.

- We’re not interested in popcorn filmmaking which, for us, is you’re there for the thrill of the ride and by the time you’ve gotten out of the cinema you’ve forgotten about it. We want people to wake up the next day and be thinking about it. Effected by it. The experience lives on.

BUT WHAT WE DIDN’T REALIZE WAS HOW BIG THE REACTION WAS GOING TO BE FROM OUR AUDIENCE.

We had no idea about it. And that was the reaction we got. On the one hand, we got people wanting to give us thousands of dollars to help us help Ethiopia and people were saying they wanna invest in ethical companies now they’d seen our film. On the other hand, we’ve got companies like Starbucks building an international PR campaign to discredit our film and tell the world to think good about Starbucks coffee. – And really, to be able to manage all of that attention and interests from all sides you need an organisation that can really try to match up to those standards.

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Posted in audience pollinate

lance weiler is the founder of the WorkBook Project and also a story architect of film, tv and games. He's written and directed two feature films THE LAST BROADCAST and HEAD TRAUMA. He's currently developing a number of transmedia projects

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