2017 Oceans & Plastic Workshop

May 1, 2017 to May 4, 2017

The first of our three 2017 Catalyst Workshops will focus on Oceans & Plastic and will be held May 1 - 4, 2017 just north of Boston at Alnoba in Kensington, New Hampshire.

The CMG Catalyst Workshops offer 10-15 participants a unique experience by bringing together seasoned & aspiring filmmakers, social media managers, campaign strategists, and conservation activists for an intensive 4-day collaboration at a nature retreat just north of Boston. Makers and sharers are paired with conservation organization staff on existing campaigns to create new media and new strategies for inspiring change and obtaining measurable impact through the use of innovative video.

The focus of this CMG Catalyst Workshop is Oceans & Plastic. Whether you’re working to stop ocean pollution at its source, reduce the amount of plastics already in the ocean, or protect beloved species from trash pollution, this is the workshop for you. Our goal is to bring together a small group of makers, sharers and organizations whose mission is to engage audiences in supporting healthy, sustainable oceans and to help solve the problem of plastic pollution in our waterways and oceans.

Please note, our Catalyst Workshops serve as incubators for innovative projects and create space for intimate networking opportunities. They are not intended as hands-on training in video production skills or social media management.


Applications for this workshop will be considered on a rolling basis between Feb 1 and April 1, 2017. Please apply as early as possible.

For Media Makers.

Previous work in ocean-related projects is not required; however, an enthusiasm and engagement with the subject focus is a must. You will be paired with another participant with experience in communications strategy to work on campaign media strategy and create a short rough cut video for a partner conservation organization. An intermediate level of video production and post-production competency is required, and you must demonstrate working knowledge and experience to this level regardless of actual years of experience. A link to your previous work must be submitted with application for review, with your role on each previous production clearly defined. Media makers are expected to bring their own preferred video or camera equipment as well as a laptop with editing capabilities. If you do not have access to this equipment, please contact us to determine if we can help make your participation possible.

For Social Media Managers, Policy Strategists & Other Communicatiors and Activists.

Previous work in ocean-related projects is not required; however, an enthusiasm and engagement with the subject matter is a must. You will be paired with another participant with experience in filmmaking to work on campaign media strategy and create a short rough cut video for a participating conservation organization. You do not need to have experience in filmmaking, but must have an understanding of how video may be used as part of a larger engagement strategy. You are expected to bring your own laptop, tablet or other devices for completing the workshop projects.

Leaders & Speakers.

This workshop will be led by several experienced filmmakers and strategists, and will include special speakers related to the workshop focus. Please scroll to the bottom of this page to see our anticipated Workshop leaders and check back in the coming months for a more detailed list of leaders & speakers.

Dates and Times.

The workshop runs from Monday, May 1 at 8AM until Thursday, May 4 at 9PM - however, participants are encouraged and welcome to arrive the night before and stay one night after to ease travel plans.  The early arrival and late departure are at no extra cost to participants.

Sunday, April 30: Optional arrival at/after 6PM

Monday, May 1: Workshop begins at 8AM

Thursday, May 4: Workshop ends at 9PM (no early departures as the final project presentations are from 7pm-9pm that evening.)

Friday, May 5: Optional departure by 9AM


This workshop will be held at Alnoba, a spectacular 400-acre retreat in Kensington, New Hampshire just 45 miles northeast of Boston. Housing is provided in shared cabins and participants will meet in a casual, home-like setting. If you are flying in for the workshop, the closest airports are: Boston/BOS - 55 minute drive, Manchester/MHT - 45 minute drive, and Portsmouth/PSM - 25 minute drive. Depending on participant needs, CMG will potentially provide a group transport option from Boston Logan airport.


Individuals / Filmmakers* $500

*The full cost per person for the workshop is $2500, but through generous foundation support the cost of the workshop has been able to be reduced to $500/person

The cost of the workshop includes shared housing and meals from Sunday night at 6pm until Friday at 9am. It also includes any special talks, outside events or group outings that may be part of the schedule. Participants are required to stay on the Alnoba property in the shared housing and may not make their own accomodations arrangements outside the property.

The registration cost does not include transportation to and from Alnoba for initial arrival and final departure. Participants are also expected to bring their own necessary equipment.

Fee Waivers.

We have a very limited number of full and partial fee waivers available to assist with registration on a case-by-case basis. Please note further instructions for applying for a fee waiver in the workshop application.

Application & Registration Process.

Our Catalyst Workshops bring together emerging and experienced organizations, media makers, and strategists, and our workshop Capstone teams are put together with attention to interests, relative experience levels, and potential impact. Attendance at the workshops is by application only and the application process is competitive.

All applicants must submit an application using our online form.

Once an applicant is accepted to the workshop, they will have one week from their notification to confirm their attendance and submit a non-refundable $250 registration fee to hold thier workshop spot. A non-reply or non-payment will result in the participant’s application becoming invalid and their spot will be offered to a waitlisted applicant.

Future Opportunities.

Workshop participants are automatically considered for our CMG Fellowships and Filmmaker-in-Residence programs. Workshop organizations and Capstone Projects are considered on a case-by-case basis for a continuation Action Grant to complete their project. Our Catalyst Workshops are the best way to get to know us and become a future CMG grantee or fellow.

Learn more about our 2015 Workshops and 2016 Workshops by exploring who attended, what projects they worked on, and which workshop participants received grants to continue their Capstone projects or became CMG Fellows at partner organizations.

More Questions? If you have further questions about our workshops or the application process, check out our Frequently Asked Questions page. Still don't see your question? Please contact us via our online form. We’d be happy to clarify and help! 


Ready to apply? If you're an individual interested in attending the Catalyst Workshop: Oceans and Plastic, please apply HERE.

If you're an organization working in Oceans & Plastic and are interested in attending please contact info@conservationmediagroup.org.


Workshop Leaders

Liz Smith

Liz Smith is passionate about science and conservation communications. Her work has focused on enabling scientists and activists to more effectively share their stories with the general public. She brings with her more than ten years of experience in strategic communications, including branding, marketing, public relations, social media, filmmaking, website development, and science writing.

David Conover

Filmmaker David Conover was born and raised in a New England family with strong ties to the sea and a tradition of active storytelling. In 1990, he founded the production company Compass Light.  Over 600 award-winning productions have been delivered to clients and broadcasters including Discovery, Science Channel, PBS NOVA, and many others around the world. The company has been listed as a Top 100 global production company by Realscreen Magazine. In early 2014, David founded Conservation Media Group.

Danny De Bonis

Danny uses video to help engage communities and build movements. He's worked with several organizations including Airbnb, Google, Pandora, and the Sierra Club. Before that, he worked at Al Gore’s Repower America, where he utilized his online organizing background for the first time to produce several successful online videos. Most notable was “Breathe,” which was nominated for best nonprofit video by YouTube’s DoGooder Nonprofit Video Awards.