The Power of Film in Making a Difference

When I set out to make a film about individuals on six continents who were making a positive difference on our planet, I didn’t set out to save the world.

Amazon River

That would not only be something impossible to achieve, but it would diminish what I could do. And in fact, if I had set out to attain such an overwhelming feat of saving the world, I may have quit before I even got started – out of pure frustration.

But I do know the power of what a film can do.  I know I can use my craft and my tools in my own small way to make a difference.  And I know that by breaking down tasks into small actions; they add up to some very big accomplishments. Even with no backing, little funds and virtually no help, my daughter and I created a film that is doing exactly what we set out to do – inspire and move people to action to do what they can do to make our planet a better place.

All too often, we over think things.  Big productions, big money, celebrities and everything else that shouts out to us on the airwaves and the Internet dazzle us.  We start to believe that anything that isn’t grandiose isn’t worthy at all.  It’s a pity because in our attempt to gain perfection or notoriety – we shortchange ourselves and everyone else on what we could have accomplished.

I’ve seen a lot of “small” films over the last few months as I travel from festival to festival with my documentary, Opening Our Eyes.  While many of these films are “small” – or at least deemed small by some – they are powerful in every way.  Sometimes, there may be only 10 people in the audience and I think what a shame, that these powerful films won’t be seen by the masses.  That is changing though, as filmmakers have access to new tools and platforms that can take their small films global.  I’ve witnessed that first hand.

As consumers we need to start taking notice of films, books and photographs that don’t have millions of dollars or stars behind them.

As filmmakers we need to stay true to ourselves, believe in our dreams and take advantage of the power of the age we live in to not only make films that create awareness but to get them seen on a global scale.

I hope I never lose sight of what’s possible through the power of film and how photographers and filmmakers can use their craft to create awareness and make our world a better place. These days, with a lot of hard work and determination, the individual has the power to make a difference globally.  We live in an amazing time – take advantage of it.


10 Things I Learned by Making a Movie

I’m sitting in the airport lounge at LAX looking out over a rain soaked tarmac – in a mellow mood. One of those rare days when nothing really needs attention. I ran into a friend on the flight out from EWR to LAX , who had noticed that I hadn’t been writing as much of late. That’s true enough, for a couple of reasons but the simple answer is I just didn’t feel the urge.

I started writing when I needed to sort things out in my head or I happened to be thinking or experiencing something that seemed worth sharing. At times, I suppose I get very personal – that’s what I have been told. That’s comes with sorting things out in my head.

Today, I’m thinking about what brought me to LA and that is the fact that I made a film – a 76 minute documentary. I‘ve never had any formal training in the way of film school, although I have often fantasized about going to NYU and getting my Masters in film. But in the interest of time, at this point in my life – I did what I’ve done a lot in my life and that is , I just decided to “do it” – in this case, make a film.

So what did I learn?

1. The story is everything – it’s everything.
2. It IS possible to make a good film without a big crew and a Hollywood budget and lots of gear.
3. You have to have desire – when you have a small crew and a tiny budget, you do a lot more of the work yourself – so you have to be passionate about what you are working on.
4. Festivals are competitive – at least the “big” ones. Are they important? They are as far as building awareness, especially for a narrative film. For me, a festival provides an opportunity to interact with an audience and get feedback. I didn’t make this film to keep it a secret.
5. The film will take a lot more time than you can imagine, especially if you don’t have a big budget.
6. There is a cinematic language and necessary ingredients to any successful film – one being – a film needs contrasts and opposites or opposition.
7. PR and marketing is essential and most filmmakers do not dedicate enough money toward this end.
8. There are so many paths to distribution these days – DVD’s are dying out and VOD and downloads are taking their place.
9. It’s almost unheard of for a filmmaker to “own” their content – most have partners and/or investors – active and otherwise. I can’t tell you how many times, eyebrows have gone up when someone asks me who owns the film and I tell them, “I do”.
10. A film is never finished – but there comes a time when you are ready to let go.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine


%d bloggers like this: