Friday, March 16, 2012

Find Good People

Here's a pic of me standing with some folks who have helped me
make Abandoned Allies: (L to R) Todd Tinkham, Surry Roberts,
Chris McClure, George Shepard, Joe Ellington, and Adam Shepard.
This week has made me appreciate--even more--the kind people who have helped me make Abandoned Allies. Over the course of the past four years complete strangers have offered their time and expertise, asking nothing in return. As a result, some of us have become good friends.

I have said thank you countless times to these folks; I hope they know how much they have blessed me by lending a helping hand. We've gotten to know one another, trust one another, and (I hope) look forward to working together on another project.

One of the things that has always attracted me to Hollywood is the family that evolves out of working so closely together. My film education started with watching too many DVD extras and behind-the-scenes interviews. One common theme: the cast and crew adored one another and became this weird but loving family.

They respect and honor one another. They take pride in their work.

These are the people I will always want to work with on a project. They are honorable, trustworthy, humble, and open to ideas. They want to do their best. They show up on time, ready to work. They know how to relax and appreciate their surroundings. They are dependable, intelligent, and fun people.

This week I spent some time with people that don't fit that description. It was unsettling. I am glad for it, as this reminded me of how awesome my team has been over the years.

My team has taught, humbled, and saved me when I needed it most. We got a good thing going. I can't wait to do it again.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Thoughts on Taking Action

One thing that's constantly on my mind: when people see Abandoned Allies and they are motivated to take action, where should I direct them? Right now I don't have a concrete answer, but I'm still looking and talking with people about it.

Here are the things I believe to be self-evident:
  • Audiences of documentary films are intelligent folks who like "edu-tainment" because they enjoy learning more about a subject in an informal, entertaining way
  • Sometimes they are inspired to take action if a particular issue resonates with them
  • Often this action takes the form of: learning more, volunteering, or offering financial support
  • They want to be directed to like-minded folks 
  • They may want to be part of an existing, trusted and dedicated non-profit that's already making a difference when they join the cause
  • If / when they join this organization's efforts they want to feel welcomed, valued, and appreciated
  • If they feel like (a) they're efforts are not valued, (b) the organization isn't as committed to the cause as it should be, (c) the organization is not run well, or (d) there's no proof of the difference that's being made -- the dedication to the organization, and perhaps the cause as a whole, may be dropped entirely
I feel like these observations are accurate, but would appreciate more conversation about it. I am learning what I can; just attended a session on getting / retaining volunteers. It was incredibly helpful.

What I envision for Abandoned Allies is a place on the web like this one: There are so many things I like about this:

  • At the very top they briefly list five things you can do now to make a difference.
  • A "learn more" option links to a nonprofit dedicated to making a difference on this particular issue.
  • Financial gifts will support an existing nonprofit already making a difference.
  • There are options available for varying levels of commitment. 
Our documentary explores a minority group and how they have been treated. We look through a very limited scope because the film is only 60 minutes long. We very briefly touch on what's happening today, with the hopes that people will want to learn more and that positive change will take shape. 

I seek an existing organization dedicated to shaping the positive change for both the Montagnard people (in Vietnam and the States) and American soldiers (vets and active duty). This is a broad scope, so I need help finding the trusted organizations helping these groups of people. 

It's a challenge, but not an impossibility. I continue to search and hope.