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Speeding Up Carbon Drawdown by Helping the Inactive Become Active

1 Sunday Morning, 4 Films: doing good in…

community filmmaking zero-budget mentoring documentary

Our zero-budget ‘unique experiment in community filmmaking’ mentoring project

Purpose

Like all See Through News projects, 1 Sunday Morning, 4 Films: doing good in…

  • is designed to be engaging on its own terms
  • provides an accessible starting point for a journey
  • has the See Through News Goal of Speeding Up Carbon Drawdown by Helping the Inactive Become Active as a final destination
  • targets Unwilling Inactivists by not advertising the ‘green’ destination up front

The two particular features of 1 Sunday Morning, 4 Films: doing good in… are:

  1. Celebrating Community: all films created by the project are about, for, and made by, people from the local community. We all live somewhere, so community is a great starting point for engagement.
  2. Real-World Mentoring: university courses rarely prepare students for the reality of the ultra-competitive world of professional documentary filmmaking. So far as it’s possible on zero budget, this project does.

Concept

All over the world, on any given Sunday morning, local volunteers gather to improve their communities. Their work is often invisible to, and unappreciated by their neighbours.

1 Sunday Morning, 4 Films celebrates this hidden parallel universe of community volunteering by matching aspiring local filmmakers with veteran industry professionals.

Together, over two months, old filmmaking heads help these 4 inexperienced filmmakers to create original films that celebrate local volunteering, local charities and other aspects of their community.

In parallel, we train complete novice community filmmaking volunteers in basic skills, that they can then apply to local initiatives after the Project ends. Using established See Through News formats enables these mentees to focus on the production, technical, interviewing, and editing basics.

The project culminates in a World Premiere screening, bringing together the friends and families of the filmmakers, the charities, and other local participants in a celebration of community filmmaking.

Format

Pre-production requires the recruitment of 5 key volunteer roles to run the Project:

  1. Project Manager (no filmmaking experience required)
  2. Executive Producer (overall creative director)
  3. Mentor 1 (experienced industry professional)
  4. Mentor 2 (experienced industry professional)
  5. Technical Mentor (production expert to supervise tech specs and delivery)

Recruitment: advertising in the local community for applicants for

  • the four Golden Ticket filmmakers
  • the larger group (4-12) of community filmmaking volunteers
  • charities to be features as one of the 4 title films

The 5 key project mentors then select a group of candidates, and subjects for the 4 films.

Boot Camp: a day introducing all participants, mentors and mentees, to each other and the Project, its resources and the concept of community filmmaking.

Meet Your Mentor Day: marks the start of the 2-month Project. The 4 Golden Ticket winners are matched with their mentor, and with the charity that will be the topic of their film.

Filmmaking: over the next 2 months, the 4 filmmakers are guided through the production process, emulating the no-second-chances, tough-love ‘real world’ of commercial filmmaking as far as possible.

The four films from our pilot project in Finchley, north London, can be seen in this Playlist.

The Community Filmmaker volunteers are trained to produce their own localised versions of the See Through News formats:

  1. The Vox Pox Project (here’s the film from the project pilot)
  2. The Think Game (here’s the film from the pilot project)
  3. The See Through News Superhero & Supervillain Drawing Competition (here’s the film from the pilot project)
  4. How To Live Without Plastic (here’s the film from the pilot project)
  5. compiling a Making Of film documenting the Project itself (here’s the pilot project version)

World Premiere Screening: marks the end of the Project, and the beginning of its ongoing legacy within the community.

The Project will have created a core group of community-minded local residents, now be available to make high-quality videos and motivated to champion local charitable – and carbon drawdown – activity.

Ideally, 1 Sunday Morning, 4 Films: doing good in… could become an annual event, increasing the local pool of trained filmmakers with each iteration. Mentees, over time, could become Mentors.

Project, Mentee and Mentor Requirements

Project: 1 Sunday Morning, 4 Films: doing good in… has following 5 requirements:

  1. A community (i.e., anywhere)
  2. A venue to screen films for the World Premiere (could be the side of a wall)
  3. Aspiring, community-minded local filmmakers who want to improve their skills
  4. 2-4 industry professionals who can provide mentoring time
  5. Zero budget (we can all afford this)

So that’s actually only 2 requirements, with 4. being harding to find than 3., but not that hard, as many experienced filmmakers are motivated to help their communities

Mentees:

Candidates for the 4 Golden Ticket filmmaker director roles must demonstrate:

  1. Some association with the community
  2. An interest in Community-building
  3. Reasonable availability for the 2 months between Meet Your Mentor Day & World Premiere Screening
  4. A passion for, and some experience of, documentary filmmaking

Candidates for the Community Volunteer Filmmaker spots only need demonstrate 1-3, as no filmmaking experience is required.

Mentors:

As many mentors will still be making their livings from the demanding and unpredictable business of documentary filmmaking, there’s a great deal of flexibility in the numbers of hours they can commit, and the notice at which they can change plans.

This is fine, as it simulates the real world of commercial filmmaking. We aim to emulate real world conditions, where humble filmmakers are very much subordinate to the schedules of busy executive producers and key decision makers.

This is very different from the world experienced by filmmaking students at university courses, for example, where the fact that they are in effect paying customers grants them a degree of indulgence, second-chances, deferments, and acceptance of dog-ate-my-homework excuses that would mean not lasting a week in the real world…

So the Mentors commitment is flexible, and set on their own terms, but the more they can make themselves available to their mentees, the more satisfying the experience for both parties, and the better the quality of the films.

Gear

Radio mics, nice lenses and a purpose-built edit suite are nice to have, but far from necessary these days.

Tech these days means you don’t need fancy equipment to make an outstanding film to broadcast specifications.

If local colleges, school, charities or volunteers can offer their cameras, sound gear, edit facilities etc., so much the better, but mobile phones and laptops are more than adequate, and can do what cost millions 20 years ago. For editing and sound designd, there are several professional-level software options available for free.

The skills of visual storytelling, however, are harder to acquire, and what this project seeks to pass on.

What’s in it for See Through News?

In the spirit of its open-source, radically transparent philosophy, See Through News provides the template, format, training resources, and consultancy for free.

Our only requirements are:

  • See Through News branding throughout
  • No assertion of copyright by any party – if we’re doing it pro bono, participants are expected to do so too

So in return, the ‘franchisees’ supply the energy, commitment, good organisation and motivation, for free, though they’re welcome to seek local sponsors if that helps.

Anyone is welcome to copy this project and do what they want with it, without acknowleding See Through News. In a way, that would be a welcome vindication of the concept.

But quite apart from zero cost, franchisees benefit from collaborating with See Through News because:

  • we provide a proven successful format. No need to re-invent this wheel.
  • we provide a full ‘format Bible’ and training resources, together with the benefit of our experience
  • we’re a non-profit with the Goal of Speeding Up Carbon Drawdown by Helping the Inactive Become Active. No need to credit us if your goal is to slow down carbon drawdown, or deter the inactive from becoming active…

Pilot Project: Doing Good In Finchley 

See Through News collaborated with London’s iconic Phoenix Cinema for the pilot of this ‘unique zero-budget experiment in community filmmaking’, which took place from May-July 2022.

The four featured charities were:

The four titles films based on these charities formed the spine of a 2-hour programme of original local films made and filmed in the community, showcased at a World Premiere screening at the Phoenix Cinema 11am-1pm on Sunday July 10 2022. Details and tickets for the World Premiere can be found here.

Interested in being the next community to host a 1 Sunday Morning project?

If you’re interested in running a 1 Sunday Morning, 4 Films project in your community, email 1sundaymorning@seethroughnews.org for details.