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*On this date in 1968, we celebrated the founding of Blackside Productions. Now called Blackside, Inc., it was founded by the late Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker Henry Hampton.
It is a production company dedicated to raising our consciousness about America’s social progress and history. The films that have resulted from this quest have set a higher standard for social documentary filmmaking: "I’ll Make Me A World: A Century of African-American Arts"; "America’s War on Poverty"; "The Great Depression"; and, of course, the ground-breaking "Eyes on the Prize" series, just to name a few.
To Blackside’s producers, a film becomes a "shared event," not under its original broadcast or rebroadcast alone, but rather in concert with books, new media, and other supportive educational materials, seminars, and workshops designed to connect audiences and institutions to the content of that film.
Flexibility is the key to their "adaptive media" approach. Blackside invests local audiences in the project while still in production by involving them in educational discussions around the subject matter of the film. Producers are encouraged to be open to learning from potential audiences how those audiences feel the film will best be received. Blackside forms partnerships with as many as two dozen local institutions in venues across the country to plan events, create and distribute material, and design curricula particular to the local populations.
Fifty years of innovative and inspiring filmmaking later, Blackside, Inc. has a well-developed filmmaker’s "voice," it has perfected its craft, and its mission is clear as ever, courtesy of a well-thought-out and carefully determined marketing strategy.