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Guest Post: Rachel Gordon “Streaming Educational Media”

Guest Post: Rachel Gordon "Streaming Educational Media"

Rachel Gordon first posted on this blog about tapping into the educational market, and what we need to do to be in a position to benefit from the opportunity before us. Today, Rachel continues with an update on how that market, like everything else, has evolved during this Age Of Digital Disruption.

Like the rest of the media consumption world, educational uses for films no longer solely occur by watching DVDs. Though non-theatrical forums are still mostly reliant on physical copies to screen, there is a growing trend of streaming media for classes. This is done in multiple ways: using a provided username and password at a designated website, logging into a central institutionally-owned server to watch a film in preparation for an upcoming lecture, or training people in several geographical places at the same time.

Included in this post are collaborative initiatives that benefit both parties – producer and cultural organization – using media. It makes the audience base larger while showcasing progressive agendas and cutting edge ideas. Everyone should think about what kinds of unique projects can be expanded on from even a portion of the films they are creating, or scenes that might have been deleted but still hold value. Admittedly, most of us would prefer to have an entire piece being seen but if a group of people can benefit from isolating a 5-minute clip, this should still be fostered.

Some recent impressive uses of media used by organizations in an online streaming capacity that create social capital and extend human awareness are:

The College of Direct Support began a Film For Thought (FFT) series, utilizing Body & Soul: Diana & Kathy as a tool for training direct support providers, state agencies, and colleges with personalized stories of people with disabilities. Body & Soul: Diana & Kathy is the story of two women with different disabilities – one with Down Syndrome and the other with Cerebral Palsy – who help each other to live independently outside of institutions and lobby Congress for disability rights.

Film for Thought (FFT) Courses are courses built on one film. Their curriculum is designed for learners to connect CDS courses, content, and learning to the main themes and story line of each film chapter. Learners are also asked to integrate this with their work as a Direct Support Professional or Frontline Supervisor. FFT courses will help learners see, hear, and feel how many of the issues are played out in the real lives of people with disabilities. Currently, over 800 individuals have used this course.

You can see more about the program by clicking here.

The Roshan Foundation is a nonprofit organization supporting the preservation, transmission, and instruction of Persian culture. In a pilot project to reach out to new students attending university courses in Asian studies, they decided to use cinema that came directly from the region and collaborated with, a streaming-only service that showcases over 500 films from every Asian and Pacific community worldwide. The foundation took 24 of those films and created a curriculum, with academic introductions, to provide faculty and students located anywhere immediate access to this cultural resource through a designated portal. You can see the creatively multi-layered result by clicking here.

It was a success and now a similar program focusing on Korea is in the works.

Freedom Machines, a film which originally aired on POV, about how assistive technology helps people with a variety of disabilities to actively participate in their communities, was placed on the internal server of Sun Microsystems, in its chaptered sections, for employee education. It was made accessible throughout all of their offices internationally to show how and why disability accommodations in the workplace are necessary. Progress Energy is also utilizing the film as part of its diversity initiative in explaining the complications of barriers in any corporate setting.

The film Monica & David, about a couple with Down Syndrome who gets married which was broadcast on HBO, collaborated with the American Council for the Blind. This unique partnership provided the filmmaker much needed accessibility features for creating their DVD while expanding the audience online to people who were visually-impaired by creating audio description. For the HBO broadcast debut, an audio described version of the film was produced with ACB Radio, who was able to enjoy a free simulcast stream that night. ACB Radio is American Council of the Blind’s free online station.

These examples wouldn’t be on the top of anyone’s lists as initial ideas in marketing plans or distribution strategies, but they’ve all increased public awareness of important causes while providing some extra income, technical tools, or exposure for filmmakers. So I highly suggest keeping your eyes and options open for similar opportunities.

Rachel Gordon is a New York based independent filmmaker and consultant who started Energized Films to help other filmmakers, and distributors, expand the audience of their media into receptive homes in academic, non-profit, and other specialty markets. She’s currently developing a comedic feature about feminine fear of commitment, making a documentary about homeopathy, and speaking to film schools about the importance of teaching distribution to students.

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Film en streaming

Film en Streaming

Film en Streaming

Thank you for this

Research reports on education

This is a really good read for me. I just found your website a few days ago and I have been reading through it regularly. Thanks a lot for enjoying this beauty blog with me


Hey Aaron,

There really is no way to add projections to a business plan from education. I know people will disagree with me on that, and that’s fine, but my experience so far hasn’t given me specific numbers to associate yet. It really depends on the content, and how it’s presented because it could be a great/important topic but not be useful in a classroom for any number of reasons.

What I can say is that it generally takes 12-18 months of consistent work for money to start being made in education as faculty and staff at institutions have to plan for courses far ahead of time.

I’m sure there is technology that could be used to make it better/swifter, but I don’t have access to that and am more involved in programming (i.e. films in a class/instructional setting) than delivery.

Best, Rachel

Aaron Cohen

Rachel, you and i have talked about this and I agree with Ted. I had no idea this was a real market. You said in your earlier piece that filmmakers shouldn’t rely on these films for their primary source of income, but it would be great if you could give a sense of the range of potential income from this market would be.

Furthermore,, could we develop technologies that enable you to be more efficient at reaching this market.

You have a unique specialty. How can filmmakers use your knowledge to improve their business plans and projections?

Ted Hope

I have been producing movies for over twenty years. I have made produced over sixty films. I know a great number of people in the film business and I am involved with many film organizations. Yet, I STILL DON”T HEAR THE EDUCATIONAL MARKET discussed generally, and know that the indie film community is generally ignorant of how to utilize it. I am a great believer that only by sharing information can we return indie film to a genuine career — and lift it into something that is far more open, diverse, and dynamic. I am grateful that their are those like Rachel out there who are willing to share. Yes, when people write for free, motivated to help the community, they might get some self promotion points in the process, but what’s wrong with that when the rest of us all benefit. I started this blog/column with the goal of moving us forward. I appreciate you commenting. That is a bit of a start. I look forward to your contributions.


This is NOT work I’ve done. I am not taking any credit for what happened to these films…they are films I happen to work with so I am aware of what they accomplished – on their own initiative/work.

I am sharing their experiences in the hopes it gives people ideas to pursue, because very few do. They are meant as examples.

Good luck with your own work…


But these are not really opportunities, are they? They’re very specific examples of work you’ve done on films you’re representing. You don’t offer any type of approach or method or insight into how filmmakers can accomplish any of this – you just say that we should keep our “eyes and options open.” I could’ve gotten that without your reading post.

I don’t mind reading fluff pieces on distribution (like this and your other two posts), but I get seriously annoyed when they masquarade as mere promotions for the writer.


It’s supposed to be educational…these are opportunities that people can make but tend not to, and I don’t claim responsibility for making any of them happen.


Is this post supposed to educate and inform, or is it simply an advertisement for its writer?

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