Producing short dramatic videos to raise awareness

collaborate
awareness

#1

I came to this forum as I had plans to start a NGO mostly focused on raising awareness to tech issues, but found strong linkages between my ideas and CHT’s mission.

I would like to work with like-minded members of the community on the production of short, dramatic and impactful videos that will alert the public on the dangerous pitfalls of technology, and hopefully, CHANGE behaviors. As I posted on a different thread, I believe in the strong power of powerful imagery and inspiring music, and I am convinced much good can be achieved through this media.

Please come to this thread and share your ideas. We could first brainstorm some themes, and then get down to elaborating on the scripts.

A few ideas of possible themes:

  1. Smartphone addiction. Showing people in the “old” society, interacting, pondering, drinking coffee and watching people vs. the “new” society of people walking, sitting, being with friends, while being stuck to their screens. Progressively superimposing lists of data gathered by tech companies on each user, while amount of profits is seen as quickly increasing every second.

  2. Privacy. Video would show people enjoying search engines and social media, followed by a data breach where an embarassing search history is publicly revealed, leading to suicide, divorce, etc.

  3. Social credits. There was an episode of “Black Mirror” dedicated to the social credit system. We could get inspiration from it, showing what it means for the new “elite” and those who became outside the system.

Financing

I am not a video producer, and we would likely need a professional. How much I dont know, but I can find out. Note that I am based in Hong Kong so this is good and bad for production. We would need to find a way to raise funds. Please suggest if you have some ideas about this.

Distribution

This is tricky. It is nice to produce videos but how to distribute them? We may need to reach out to the core team to get signoff and organize distribution with a more authoritative effect.


Phone Zombies Campaign: Anchoring the term "Phone Zombies" in common language
How can we appeal to the masses, who do not seem all that interested in changing?
How can we appeal to the masses, who do not seem all that interested in changing?
Call for Action: Join the Humane Tech Awareness program - From Awareness to Cultural Awakening!
Poll: Which Humane Tech topics would you like to spend your time on?
Who we are, What we do, And how YOU :heart: can help Humane Technology too!
How can we appeal to the masses, who do not seem all that interested in changing?
Happy to lead efforts in Hong Kong
How can we appeal to the masses, who do not seem all that interested in changing?
#2

Great, I love this. We can turn this into a project, e.g. named awareness-campaigns.

I’d like to point to a related idea that I recently posted:

This is about raising awareness through language use, but I had the idea for a campaign video to accompany it. I’ll elaborate more on that in the topic.

I like your themes. As part of the project we can prepare full-blown scenario’s and mood boards, etc.

This will be costly and hard to arrange. If we accept donations or sponsoring, these may come with liabilities. I’d like us to try walking a different path. This community should become more than just a forum. Members should be proud to associate with it, and become active knights and warriors in the fight towards humane technology.

We have creatives amongst our members. We can find more, if needed. The project can be wholly crowdsourced, and we only need money if we get stuck. There is great open-source software with which to design and create campaign material.

Why would someone - as a creative - spend his/her time on this? First of all, of course, because you are passionate about humane tech and very worried about where society is heading. But rest assured, anything you do will be properly attributed. You attach your name to your work, show it in your portfolio. We are talking about videos with highly viral potential here. Wouldn’t you just love :heart: having millions view your art, even if you didn’t get paid to produce it?

Why? Not at all. We’ll just be Turning the Weapon Around to Raise Awareness :wink:

We have a whole bunch of people where who are very social media-savvy, who know the dark arts of promoting and advertising stuff on the internet. That can be used to achieve some real positive impact now. Along with the videos we’ll come up with media strategies and campaign plans.

This is not needed per se. The community and organization - although closely affiliated - are entities that can, and will, operate separately. This will be a community initiative, and should be carried by the community entirely. Of course we can cooperate and should ask permission for logo (more on this later), official artwork use, etc.

Lastly: One of the goals of this community should be to become authoritative in our own right!


#3

Hello @aschrijver,

Thank you for your post, this is most encouraging. Please allow me to follow up:

  1. On production. Some professionals may give a discount if they feel the distribution could be widespread. I believe we should go with professionals, whether or not they are part of the community. If they are, fantastic, but realistically, the community is not very large so it may be hard.

  2. On financing. I fully agree with you on the danger of getting sponsors. I was thinking crowdfunding or donations from those of ours involved in the initiative.

  3. On distribution. You are right. Many people here are experts at circulating media. But still, don’t you think it would help if the videos were signed by the CHT?

Thank you again for supporting this initiative!


#4

Hi @Georges, I’m here because @aschrijver pointed me to this topic (thanks Arnold!)

I’m doing something similar, but my main focus is on privacy–I believe everything is related to it. In a couple of weeks I’m going to launch a crowdfunding campaign to film a documentary. Maybe I can share in this forum some things I’ve learned and the best way to make it work.

I don’t think distribution and financing is a problem. Production is a different thing. But it also depends on the kind of film you want to create. For me the most expensive part is traveling expenses (because I want to interview experts around the world), but it shouldn’t be.

If I can help in any way let me know, we might even collaborate together or something.

PS check out some of my articles, so you get an idea of my point of view: https://medium.com/privateid-blog


#5

Hi @borja

Thanks for sharing and I look forward to getting to know more about your planned documentary. If your travels include Hong Kong or nearby, would be happy to meet you.

Our two projects share similar logistical issues. First, on financing, I would be very keen to know more about the crowdfunding option and how to maximize chances of raising enough funds. Second, on distribution, I would be interested to know your views about securing CHT’s label (@aschrijver and I had an exchange about this aspect).

Would be happy to cooperate indeed on either project or both. Please let me know how you see this could work. For me, I am first quite keen to hear from other members about the proposed themes for the videos and possibly some scripta ideas. Second, hear from anyone with experience producing cinematic videos. Third, hear suggestions about crowdfunding.


#6

Below was my suggestion for the theme of one video (very rough).

“Smartphone addiction. Showing people in the “old” society, interacting, pondering, drinking coffee and watching people vs. the “new” society of people walking, sitting, being with friends, while being stuck to their screens. Progressively superimposing lists of data gathered by tech companies on each user, while amount of profits is seen as quickly increasing every second.”

Thinking of music to accompany, I thought of Beethoven’s Symphony 7 Movement 2 (“allegretto”). The structure of this piece (up to 2:37) makes it easy to picture the following script:

The whole scene takes place in one of this coffee place terrace you can see everywhere in Europe. I like it because this kind of place used to be cliche for spending time leasurely with friends, reading newspapers or a book, and watching people. The music starts slowly. Maybe only a few patrons, most of them engaging in abovementioned activities (should these people be older?). Then as the music gathers pace and grows crescendo, more and more patrons sit in, some of them picking up their phones. The music grows louder, more and more patrons arrive, this time already holding their phones. We start superimposing data pertaining to each, and show growing profits for tech companies, market cap, etc. Then once the music finally calms down (please listen to it), one person looks up from his phone, and realizes there is not a soul around. We can conclude with a slogan on these few final notes (before the melody).

We can think of many effects such as colors slowly fading into black and white. Please contribute!


#7

For second video about “Privacy”, was thinking of Bob Marley’s “Three little birds” (which we all know as “Don’t worry about a thing, cos’ every little thing’s gonna be alright”). Obvious problem: copyrights!

The video would start showing someone using a search engine (doesn’t have to be Google, could be something generic), progressively searching for more and more controversial and embarassing topics. Then, after falling asleep, waking up to a call from a friend who is obviously upset with her, and afterwards soon realizing (via her email or social media feeds full of angry reactions) that a serious data breach caused her search history to be made public to all her contacts, friends, family, employers. Next scenes would see her being fired on the spot the next morning, then kicked out from a restaurant she frequently patroned, then being rejected by her parents as she seeks comfort from them, her boyfriend ditching her, etc, etc. She then walks in a park and strangers look at her suspiciously. Back to her place, she opens a drawer revealing a gun. The camera moves to her computer screen, showing the search engine’s slogan “Everything you need is at your fingertips (meaning, the gun)”. Then comes the loud bang of the gun firing, followed by a back screen and fading music.

Ok, this may be cheesy, so I am happy to hear your views!


#8

@Georges, I think I might go to Beijing for one of the interviews, but not sure yet. Either way I’d love to come back to Hong Kong–I love that place :slight_smile:

What do you mean by securing CHT’s label?

I like your ideas, but before you define the details of a story, you’ve got to define the structure. Every story (whether it’s a movie, documentary or book) has a theme and a concept. Those are the two most important things to set up right at the beginning.

What they basically answer is: What is it about?

I like to use the Black Mirror show as example because it’s the easiest one to understand. (And I guess you’ve seen it)

Black Mirror has a theme, and it’s something like this: Techonology is starting to get out of hand, and unless we do something we’ll end up in a place we don’t really want.

A theme is the core idea–without characters, no details, nothing, just the idea. And it’s the same in every episode.

However, a concept is more concrete. In the case of Black Mirror each episode has a different concept. And that is taking the theme, and put in some details: narrative, characters, three act structure, you go down the list.

So if I were you, first I would define the theme, and that could be the same one for all the documentaries you want to produce. Then, define each concept. It shouldn’t take more than a couple of paragraphs.

Once you have that, then you can use what you’ve just written, and see if it fits. The trick here is to leave out everything that doesn’t match the theme and concept.

I hope this helps :wink:

PS when I wrote my book I shared the process behind it. I have a post about themes and concepts, and also how to structure a story. Even though this was for a non-fiction book, I think you might find it helpful to get started.


#9

Hi @borja

Thanks for your thoughts and contributing to bringing some structure into this project.

My primary objective with dramatic videos is to shock the audience, and lead to introspection and questioning about the pervasive use of technology. This may explain why you could not see the structured approach you are suggesting.

Let me try to bridge the gap. The theme of all videos would be the same as Black Mirror, i.e. “You know, or should know, there is something wrong about this.”.

In terms of concepts, I would not attempt to push a specific agenda for each topic, e.g. Spending too much time on your smartphone ruins the quality of your life (video 1), or We are stupid to entrust Google with our private data (video 2). The videos would aim to make the audience think, and reach their own conclusions. Video 1, in particular, paints a scene from today’s world that is radically different from the past, the music stresses the rapid evolution of our society, but there is no obvious conclusion. The objective is to ask “Everything’s changed. Do you really like it better this way?” Of course I am biased, but the audience eventually decides. Most importantly, the objective of raising awareness is reached: “Don’t you see that the world has become a significantly different place?”

I guess my approach is more artistic than organised as I am trying to picture what scenario would have the most dramatic effect; in my defense the idea is to provoke, rather than convince (something I am afraid appears incredibly difficult when it comes to this subject).

So, yes, I agree the reference to Black Mirror is most appropriate. I have found this TV series extremely creative and inspiring, albeit utterly depressing.


#10

I have created a Github project to work on this. Its brand new, but I’ll be adding some more structure to it later. I suggest we divide work between the project space and this forum, something like this:

  • I’ll create some labels in the Issue Tracker and @Georges, you can create separate issues for each video idea.
  • We’ll discuss the bells & whistles (the gory details) in the issue comments thread on Github
    • For each idea we’ll determine the best way to elaborate on it, and create additional issues, files, wiki’s accordingly
  • We’ll use the forum for high-level discussion and to report back to the community on progress, this to avoid having topics that are TL;DR (too long, didn’t read)

This is the repository location: Humane Tech Awareness Campaigns


#11

Hi @aschrijver

Thanks for arranging this. I am quite new to Github (shame on me as I am also a coder who took some nice code from the website) but will get to it.

Any other community member who may be interested in this project?


#12

Your overall goal is to raise awareness. Your method is to create dramatic videos that will

  1. shock the audience
  2. lead to introspection and questioning
  3. make the audience think and reach their own conclusions
  4. provoke, rather than convince

This morning I saw the following page at the NGS site, and I found it shocking. I am guessing that you want to create videos that have a similar effect, that stay in viewers’ minds long enough to provoke reflection and/or consideration of changes in thinking and behavior.

https://natgeoprintsale.com/collections/luis-marden-and-david-guttenfelder/products/david-guttenfelder


#13

Hi @aschrijver

Re. the Github project, I guess your plan is to discuss various campaigns on that platform, i.e. not only the short videos project, but any other awareness campaign. Is there a risk that it becomes too cluttered, or is it possible to structure the repository as a tree so that each initiative (and all their sub threads related to the nitty gritty) is clearly separated? Forgive my lack of experience with Github.

As to the videos project (in which yourself, @borja, @patm and @PatMc have indicated interest in collaborating), I was thinking of the following threads/issues?

  1. Overall agenda, i.e. mission and principles of the videos project

  2. Scripts discussion:
    2.1 video1
    2.2 video 2
    Etc.

  3. Production issues
    Anything related to commissioning and working with professional producers in the right place at the right time.

  4. Crowdfunding
    How to maximize chances of securing funding.

  5. Distribution
    How to spread and make the videos viral, possible linkage with CHT core team.

If you had other ideas on how to structure this, happy to listen.


#14

Hi @Georges

I created some more structure in the Github project. Check it out. I’ll be adding more this evening, and/or tomorrow (in am on CET Amsterdam timezone, btw), and I’ll incorporate some of your structure recommendations from above, and other posts in this thread. Thank you!

I will create an issue detailing my Phone Zombie idea, but I’ll let you elaborate your own ideas in the Issue Tracker in the way you want to add it. I leave that up to you to decide :slight_smile:

Edit: Ah, I see you already found the project and created an issue. Great!


#15

Hi @borja

Not sure if you have kept following this thread, but would love to have your opinions on the first script (please go to the Github project @aschrijver kindly created). I am still not quite sure about the proper creative process and your experience would be invaluable in making this work.

I guess the concept of this first video (after reading your article on the subject one more time) is “Let us look at how our pastimes have changed by considering a scene at a cafe that represents two decades. From leasurely and seemingly tranquil activities, we have become increasingly absorbed in our phones, in the process building the wealthiest and most powerful companies in the world’s history. At the end, we realize our phone has become our only source of gratification.”

Other aspects, which you are currently dealing with for your own documentary, include financing, production and distribution.

Conversely, should you need any assistance on your own projects, would be happy to contribute. Is there a link to your project details you could provide?


#16

Lovely to see the project coming along on GitHub.

Will there be so-called focus groups to evaluate the videos? If so, I’m happy to participate.


#17

We welcome your participation @patm! Still far away from actual video production, of course, but that is the beauty of crowdsourced open-source projects. Anyone can contribute at any time, on tasks of most interest.

If we want videos with the potential to go viral, we need to do a bunch of brainstorming, storytelling and script writing, as well as creative thinking on how to spread our message most effectively. Then funding, production, etc. etc.

But first we need to flesh out the project, and create some plans, create tasks and the like. This will occur in the project space, so keep an eye on that. You can jump in anywhere you like :slight_smile:


#18

This point requires special care. As I wrote in our position statement our community should be an exemplar of Humane Technology and be fully transparent. We work in the open.

This means that, while it is okay to crowdfund individual campaigns or campaign-themes, we should have a way to publish our expenses, so they can audited by the public. Furthermore the community will have more projects and a community website (with Donation button) in the future that probably need crowdfunding, so it seems prudent to me if we create a general crowdfunding strategy first (and not having each project go their own way, reinvent the wheel).

If a campaign receives more funding than what is needed, then the surplus should be added to the community ‘war chest’ for use in other campaigns, or different projects.

I realize this complicates the initiative, but it is something that has to be done. But if our plans our good, and we are well-organized, then it will also be easier to find funds and possibly sponsoring opportunities as well.

I would like this preparation and strategy to occur in another repository, namely the one for Community Building.


#19

Hi @patm

Happy to see you are keen to get involved and sorry I omitted you in a previous post as your username is almost the same as @PatMc.

Right now, we are at the preparation stage, thinking of possible concepts/scripts while exchanging on the process of financing, producing and distributing the videos.

Would be great to have your views on Github repository!


#20

Hi Arnold,

Totally agree and this has been my thinking all along. We should be transparent as to who we are, what are objectives are, what the videos will show, and importantly publish quotations for all the costs to be incurred in production.

On crowdfunding strategy, would be great if the community already had discussed the topic somewhere (not sure it has), and if not, we could create a new thread in the forum to discuss. Alternatively, if this project is the first in the community to be crowdfunded, then I believe it would be more practical to treat it as a pilot, with the whole discussion about the crowfunding process and lessons learned eventually transferred to another Github repository and linked to in the forum.

I understand @borja will soon start a crowdfunding exercise to finance a documentary, would be good to learn from his experience.