One of the workshops at the Media That Matters conference I attended this past weekend (the archive of my liveblogging account of the panels is available here) that I learned so much from was Judith Helfand‘s presentation “Building a Community: A New Media Engagement Workshop.”
Judith walked us through several examples of mediamakers that took innovative steps to expand their films beyond the traditional screening. This allowed the films to be leveraged as a tool for community building in ways I found to be very exciting, and effective.
One of the most interesting examples she gave that I wanted to highlight is the AXS Map Project, developed by filmmaker Jason DaSilva, director of When I Walk. When I Walk chronicles how Jason’s world changed after being diagnosed with MS six years ago. The film paints a picture of what it is like to live with MS – the ins and outs of the symptoms and the day-to-day challenges.
As his mobility became increasingly limited, Jason quickly realized that the claimed accessibility of restaurants and buildings were not what the owners claimed they were on Yelp and other listings. The AXSmap project harnesses new media to allow people to shift that and through user generated input that changes the way people with physical disabilities can travel.
Really though, I’m not doing this project any justice with my words.
Watching this short video below that shows it in action lets you realize what an amazing tool this is. This project models well how to create an engagement component to the issues you are addressing in your film that has tangible impact.
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