Kicking off in London town

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It’s been a very exciting week in London town, not least with the passing of Thatcher, and I’ve been hitting the ground running with a stack of meetings with producers, presenters, venues, theatre companies and artists regarding possibilities of bringing Big hART projects here. We’re looking at touring shows, screenings films and running training as well as potentially setting up an ongoing residency through which we could start a long term project in the UK.

On top of the Big hART meetings, catching up with friends and zipping around on the tube (can we please get some decent public transport in Australia already!) I’ve had a couple of meetings to kick start my Churchill research and thinking.

Yesterday I met with Mark Atken one of the producers of Crossover. I took part in a Crossover Lab in Adelaide five years ago that was incredibly useful and inspiring. I am still in touch with a number of people I met there including Emma of Homage to Uncertainty fame and Fee from Really Big Road Trip amongst other fantastic folks. I also continue to use a lot of the idea generating processes we played with at the Lab in my practice. Talking with Mark reminded me of the ways in which thinking about audience and how and why they use technology, can and should be a big part of how you design cross platform projects. Seems obvious, but sometimes you can get so swept up in a project you can forget about where you want it to go, what you want it to do and who you want to see it when you finish making it.

This morning I met with Beadie Finzi from the Brit Doc Foundation. What a powerhouse! It was so exciting to talk with someone who clearly articulates the power of film, role of partnerships, new models of funding films, ways of measuring impact and was so open with ideas, knowledge and contacts. The sense of being part of a movement and network was palpable and really affirmed the focus of this trip.

Aside from the fantastic rapid fire overview of the work of Brit Doc and a bunch of recommendations of models, impact assessments (read these they are great) and organisations to check out there were a couple of stand out ideas.

The first is how essential the quality of your work is to your capacity to have a powerful influence. We talk a lot about this at Big hART where we are committed to high production values in the work that we make. Especially as it comes from a community process it needs to stand on its own as a work and not be supported out of a generosity from an audience – it needs to stand alongside commercial and mainstream work despite its very different process of creation and broader social change agenda. Beadie made a strong point as to how fundamental this is to an impact campaign working and I completely agree.

The second big take home for me was the title of Impact Producer. Actually having a name for the role of designing and executing a social impact campaign is fantastic: of course that’s what the role is! It’s not straight producing and it’s not just distribution or marketing or outreach – I love this title and am really keen to start using it where relevant.

Brit Doc Foundation do a lot of things – I recommend digging through their website – but one of the major live events they have initated is the Good Pitch.

Good Pitch brings together documentary filmmakers with foundations, NGOs, campaigners, philanthropists, policy makers, brands and media around leading social and environmental issues – to forge coalitions and campaigns that are good for all these partners, good for the films and good for society.

Good Pitch², which is not dissimilar to the TedX model, allows local groups to stage a Good Pitch event. The training/handover for this involves bringing a producer to shadow a Good Pitch process before committing to organising one. I am very excited about the idea of a Good Pitch² taking off in Australia and when I got home from meeting Beadie I shot off emails to Big hART, AIDC, Adelaide FF, Sydney FF and Antenna FF as well as a number of Australian filmmakers excitedly encouraging the idea!

I think an event like Good Pitch would encourage a greater network of and language for social change filmmakers in Australia.

To wrap up this post here are some docos I am excited about. I haven’t seen any of these films yet, but I’ve been looking at their social impact campaigns and look forward to checking them out:

The Invisible War The Invisible War is a groundbreaking investigative documentary about one of America’s most shameful and best kept secrets: the epidemic of rape within the U.S. military. The film paints a startling  picture of the extent of the problem—today, a female soldier in combat zones is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire. The Department of Defense estimates there were a staggering 22,800 violent sex crimes in the military in 2011. 20% of all active-duty female soldiers are sexually assaulted. Female soldiers aged 18 to 21 accounted for more than half of the victims.

God Loves Uganda God Loves Uganda explores the role of the American evangelical movement in Uganda, where American missionaries have been credited with both creating schools and hospitals and promoting dangerous religious bigotry.
The film follows evangelical leaders in America and Uganda along with politicians and missionaries as they attempt the radical task of eliminating “sexual sin” and converting Ugandans to fundamentalist Christianity.

Budrus Budrus is an award-winning feature documentary film about a Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar, who unites local Fatah and Hamas members along with Israeli supporters in an unarmed movement to save his village of Budrus from destruction by Israel’s Separation Barrier. Success eludes them until his 15-year-old daughter, Iltezam, launches a women’s contingent that quickly moves to the front lines. Struggling side by side, father and daughter unleash an inspiring, yet little-known, movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories that is still gaining ground today. In an action-filled documentary chronicling this movement from its infancy, Budrus shines a light on people who choose nonviolence to confront a threat.

Great article “Shifting Narratives Through Documentary Film: A Case Study of ‘Budrus’” by Julia Bacha from Just Vision.

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One Comment Leave a comment

  1. Rahima Hayes

    Alex, the post’s really interesting. I love how open you are with what you are doing and thinking. Shall be keeping an eye out for future posts. Have fun Rxx

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