As first time documentary filmmakers, Dana & Krisanna weren’t sure where to start. After attending a virtual event for another documentary, they were introduced to Keith and Show&Tell.

Through a mix of grit, determination, and some lucky breaks, they created success for not one, but two films and have raised over $300,000 so far! 

“Execute with excellence. Put your whole heart into it. You just can't half ass this process because it won't result in the greatest outcome.”

LOVE HEALS is a documentary film following Dana’s journey as a chronic pain sufferer in search of healing. Together with her film and life partner, Krisanna, they traveled the country to understand how certain ancient principles have helped so many heal. Initially starting with a small built-in audience from yoga and tai chi centers, they’ve built up a robust community of superfans.

The Power of Conferences

At a health and wellness conference, Dana and Krisanna shared a sneak peek trailer of LOVE HEALS and gave a brief introduction onstage – the response was immediate and intense. The audience wanted to see the film so emphatically that the conference showed the entire film prior to the opening of the conference the next day. 

For the next three days, attendees lined up to meet the filmmakers and learn more about their film. From a 7-8 minute presentation, they were receiving more attention than some of the high level speakers at the conference because the film touched people's hearts, gave them tools to use on their pain, and it was really meaningful.

Because of this one conference, there was a widespread ripple effect. Speakers and attendees at the conference shared the film with others in their network, including an executive director of a nearby film festival. Dana and Krisanna convinced them to break the rules and allow the film into the festival at the last minute and LOVE HEALS won the Audience Award – and word of the film started to spread more and more. 

Conferences have led to so many connections and opportunities for Dana and Krisanna, but it wasn’t always easy. The film team often traveled to conferences without getting paid upfront, or held Zoom Q&A sessions to add additional value. They continuously advocated for the film to be shown to the attendees and this would ultimately lead to a bigger and stronger community. One person would introduce the team to another influential person in the space and so on. Dana also reached out to popular podcast hosts in the healing and wellness space to let them know about the film and generate interest in upcoming screenings.

Busting the Self Distribution Myth

Early on in their distribution, the health and wellness streamer Gaia offered to buy the film for $25,000 for four years with all the rights. Dana and Krisanna politely declined, opting to self distribute first. They were able to generate over $30,000 from one virtual screening event alone. LOVE HEALS also secured a national broadcast on PBS with $40,000 in underwriting.

Want to learn more about our strategies for securing PBS underwriting and a national broadcast? Visit our Intro to PBS Free Resource.

Around the two year mark, Dana and Krisanna hosted a donation based screening and reached out to all of the previous event coordinators, partners, influencers and people who were featured in the film, and asked for help. They created a toolkit with graphics, email headers, dates, and copy and asked them to share out the event. The result? Over 6,000 people attended. After the success of virtual screenings, PBS broadcast and website sales, Dana and Krisanna reached back out to Gaia. This time, Gaia offered the same $25,000 deal, but without asking for exclusive rights. They also secured international distributors in France and the Netherlands as well as having the film translated into 11 different languages - all from donations. They’re even famous in South Korea!

“The power of what happened with LOVE HEALS was building connections, asking for help when we needed it, inserting ourselves into conferences and offering our film when it felt right… and just being patient.”


Hearts full from their success with LOVE HEALS, Dana & Krisanna began working on another film centered around healing. RESCUED HEARTS is a new documentary about the science, miracles, and mystery of healing with horses. Although they amassed a large following with LOVE HEALS, they had to essentially start from scratch on their new project. Due to the production agreement they had with their funder, they did not have rights to the large email list they previously built.

Dana knew the power of building partnerships and community from their previous film and immediately started sharing behind the scenes to get people excited about the project. Social media became a cornerstone of their success. They were able to build a large following in a short time and created buzz around their upcoming film. Equine Therapy centers followed and shared the trailer on their pages.

Sneak Peek Success

They built a relationship with one of the individuals featured in the film, actress Amber Marshall from successful TV series, HEARTLAND, and she was pivotal in promoting the film. Dana created assets and collaborative posts with Amber to reach her 1+ million followers. They also reached out to Heartmath Institute to create a combined  audience of mainstream HEARTLAND fans and the conscious healing space. Again, Dana and Krisanna built toolkits to make it easy for her superfans to help spread the word about their sneak peak fundraiser screening – they included graphics, logos, behind the scenes footage, stills, email headers etc in a convenient to share online folder. 

The sneak peek screening was sponsored by TLC Sanctuary, a local horse sanctuary in Arizona. For the sanctuary, it was a chance to build awareness around their non-profit and for Dana and Krisanna, it made it possible to make the screening donation based. They hosted the event on Show&Tell’s Virtual Event platform, asked for donations, and hosted a live Q&A to meet the filmmakers. 

Having clarity on their impact mission, posting it on their landing page and marketing materials, and being clear on their financial need was pivotal to their success. A donor asked how much they needed to raise in order to finish the film, and offered to match ALL donations up to $20,000 in order to help bring the film to life. This person was not someone they initially expected to contribute, but because they built a friendship with her, she became their biggest supporter. It’s important to remember that it’s not always the big names or corporations that provide the most value as a partner – it’s the fans who show a real interest in your mission.

Over $300,000 raised

At the end of the day, it’s not just about sharing your screening link and asking people to watch. Finding your target audience and building deep connections within it is more valuable for you and your potential partners. Collaborating with your super fans allows them to feel like they’re involved and that you’re working towards your impact goals alongside them, rather than just asking people to purchase a ticket. By building powerful and meaningful connections with both of their films, utilizing toolkits to make it easy for partners and influencers to share, and pure hard work, Dana and Krisanna have raised over $300,000 between their two films so far, and RESCUED HEARTS is still in production!

Toolkits played a major role in the success of both LOVE HEALS and RESCUED HEARTS. Want to learn more about what to include and see examples of successful toolkits? - Check out our 'Toolkits: Your Film & Much More' Free Resource