Art For The Greater Good
Earlier this year I wrote, “if your work isn’t serving the greater good, don’t expect people to pay for it.” As an independent filmmaker, I’ve always strived to make art that pushes for social progress. However, since the 2016 election I’ve wanted to take a more immediate approach.
Whether it’s film, television, photography, painting, new media, podcasts, etc., it’s vital that creators use their voices to not only only tackle the current issues of the day, but also articulate an inclusive vision for the future. This week-ish features some of the creators, and some of the work that has challenged and inspired me to make films that drive our social conversations forward.
Dialogue, Not Division
Following the Pulse Shooting in Orlando on June 12, 2016, podcaster and social activist Shaun Lau ran a 10-part series on his show, No, Totally! He welcomed 49 voices of the LGBTQIA+ community to freely express the way in which the tragedy affected them. Shaun’s decision to open his platform is a testament to the power of listening.
Listening is the first step towards understanding, the first step towards progress, and the first step in acknowledging the full value of every human life.
Other Conversations the Internet is Having
As the battle over the Affordable Care Act wages on in D.C. and in town halls across the country, Dan Carlin of the Common Sense podcast offers a thoughtful, contextual, and fact-based look at how healthcare has worked in America.
Who to follow
- Released by the BBC last October and clocking in at nearly three hours, HyperNormalisation provides much needed (if ultimately depressing) context for our global political climate. English filmmaker Adam Curtis argues that politicians and corporations have constructed current reality upon constantly shifting false truths and alternate facts that don’t address the real concerns or issues of the people. Above all, Curtis finds that the greatest failure of leaders and politicians since the 1970s has been their inability to articulate a vision of the future that feels inclusive and prosperous for all.
- From the macro view of HyperNormalisation, to the micro focus in Adam Perez’s “19 Hour.” Originally published in the Los Angeles Times, this short documentary follows Central American immigrant and unaccompanied minor Gaspar Marcos as he navigates a typical day of home, school, work, and home again across the vastness of Los Angeles. It’s a work of incredible humanity, spotlighting the day to day realities of an individual many others would demonize or stereotype.
- The first in writer/poet Arianna “Lady B” Basco’s 5-part series “A Story of Worth” is an intimate spoken word piece and portrait of the personal struggle to find value. Through the raw honesty of her words and the accompaniment of a soulful saxophone, there is a flurry of anger, love, hope, frustration, aspiration, admiration, and loss. The piece demands viewers acknowledge the inherent struggle in staying true to yourself while navigating the maelstrom of emotions that come with love. I can't imagine watching and not being moved.
- They Are Slaughtering Us Like Animals. What’s happening in the Philippines right now is horrifying and there aren't enough people talking about it. President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs has led to an increase in homicides through state sponsored killings. New York Times photographer Daniel Berehulak points his lens at this grim reality in the hopes the world will stop ignoring this carnage.
- Filmmaker Emily Kai Bock and musician Sebastian Schuller collaborated back in 2012 on a music video for Schuller’s track, “Nightlife”. In Bock’s mesmerizing video, she explores Miami’s nightlife by focusing on the faces, places and moods that others would never turn a camera towards. Its gorgeous blend of cinema verite style camera work and natural lighting give the piece an otherworldly quality that manages to never lose sight of each subject’s overwhelming humanity.
- Systemic Indifference. A sobering long-read from the Human Rights Watch on substandard healthcare in immigration detention. Before we can find a solution for these issues, we need to understand their depth and complexity.
- #100DaysOfDiversity And Counting. Aside from my work as a filmmaker, I also act as Seed&Spark’s Head of Crowdfunding where we have a company wide focus on increasing representation in front of and behind the camera. From January 20 to April 19, 2017, we launched our #100DaysOfDiversity initiative in which we partnered with major brands and sponsors to offer additional perks to filmmakers working to include more diversity in their work. This post from our blog recaps the incredible success we had both in terms of representation, as well as dollars raised. However, the numbers also show that this is a starting point. There’s still so much work to do.
- The Importance of Data Transparency. For filmmakers, this new distribution landscape is a lot to take in. Not only has everything changed from the days of theatrical and home video releases, but the amount of misinformation out there can be paralyzing. Filmmaker Liz Manashil opens up about the process of digitally distributing her feature film Bread and Butter and looks at how data transparency is the key to a sustainable career as an independent artist.
Question of the Week
Are you the favorite person of anybody?