Filed under: Activism, Amnesty International, Avaaz, collaboration, Human Rights, Mother | Tags: Activism, amnesty, Avaaz, collaboration, film, Mother
Filmmakers are taking a new approach to making films that have a positive social impact. Instead of waiting for a big commission and a distribution deal, they’re building coalitions of campaigners, NGOs, foundations, media and sometimes brands. They get their films made and their messages out.
I recently went to along to The Good Pitch, an event run by the Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation, the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, and Working Films UK. The event brings together filmmakers with funders and NGOs. The list of attendees shows how much interest there is in this area right now, everyone from Amnesty and Avaaz to War On Want and UNICEF.
Interestingly, there were no brands represented, and the only agencies present were Mother and Fallon. Are we overlooking opportunities to get brands hooked up with positive social messages? The last couple of months has seen some great “good films” – here are some examples:
Age Of Stupid was released in the UK in March and had its global premier in 40+ countries last week. The film was “crowd-funded” by 220 people who donated between £500 and £35,000 and will receive a pro-rata share in any profits. There’s an extensive online campaign called Not Stupid, and the campaign’s partners include MoveOn, Greenpeace and the Copenhagen campaign TckTckTck.
End Of The Line is part of a global campaign on the impact of overfishing, and was funded by a number of environmental groups and foundations. In the UK it was promoted by Greenpeace and Waitrose, an resulted in a flurry of reversals from retailers including Pret a Manger and M&S.
New Muslim Cool follows a Puerto Rican American Muslim rapper – his clash of identities and his scrapes with the FBI. The film was funded by a range of social foundations and public bodies, and is being promoted by a large network of “community engagement partners”.
Burma VJ is about a group of young video journalists who risk their lives to expose the brutality of the regime. Funded by a coalition including Burma Campaign, the film was promoted in the UK by the Cooperative and FilmAid.
So what about getting more brands involved in projects like this? Obviously there are credibility risks involved, but the right brand could really extend the reach of a film. Here are some that spring to mind.
Vopafone provide emergency communications for Oxfam and Red Cross disaster relief – surely some compelling stories here, highlighting the work of these agencies.
Gap (like many manufacturers) struggles with guaranteeing human rights compliance of suppliers. Why not work with UNICEF to make a challenging film facing up to the realities of, e.g. child labour?
Dell could tell a good story about the human impact of its work on digital inclusion in the favellas of Brazil.
Google could work with the Electronic Frontier Foundation on a documentary about internet privacy. OK, I’ll stop here …