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“No one has ever become poor from giving.”

- Anne Frank


It’s true that giving back, helping someone out or being part of a community that is striving for change, feels good. It gives you purpose, which I strongly believe is one of the most fundamental requirements for happiness.


That is why, whenever we get a new enquiry or brief for a charity film, we are full of enthusiasm. Many of our films over the years have been centred around charities or community projects, and nearly all of those organisations focus on humans; from a residential school for complex autistic students, homelessness and domestic abuse prevention, to girls football clubs and refugee tea and talk sessions. Each and every one shares a common goal to improve and support the lives of human beings. In an ideal world, this is surely the daily goal we should all be working towards, but let’s not get political. Not today anyway.


Now, sadly, there is a persistently annoying thing that burdens us all - money. Urgh, such a dirty word. And charities invariably never have much of it, or certainly not much to throw into the pot for a new shiny video, which is often seen as a luxury spend. So there’s no getting rich making charity films. But what appeals to filmmakers, and certainly us, more than the exchange of gold coins, is the exchange of human stories. Being invited into a charity, trusted with an all access pass, to witness and hear some of the most difficult, joyous, unbelievable and heartbreaking stories you will ever hear, is quite the honour.



 


PRIORS COURT

Autism Education and Care

Commissioned by Priors Court





 


We all love to watch an emotive film, regardless of your age, race or gender. A good ‘Father re-uniting with his long-lost son’, ‘homeless person receiving a haircut’ or ‘child hearing for the first time’ video, interlaced with a heartbreaking soundtrack, will have most of us crying into our mugs of tea. I would love to understand the real psychology here (please comment below if you have an actual, educated theory!), but I like to believe it’s because 99% of us, are actually just good people, and love to laugh and/or cry with our fellow human beings. This is empathy. Not sympathy, but empathy. And it feels so good to feel it! Brene Brown (yes, yes, very unoriginal but she’s so right) sums it up perfectly:


“Empathy is a skill that can bring people together and make people feel included, while sympathy creates an uneven power dynamic and can lead to more isolation and disconnection.”

When we work alongside charities to navigate how best to tell their story, we lean heavily into empathy. Our task is to help people understand and relate to the challenges and purpose of the cause, in order for viewers to engage, learn, feel empathetic and then support or raise awareness. But there is a very fine line between eliciting empathy, over sympathy. As the quote mentions, sympathy creates a power dynamic and often leads to those portrayed in the film, who are already vulnerable, to appear weak, threatening their dignity and confidence - and yet they are very often some of the strongest people to grace this world. This is a challenge, and it pushes the art and subtleties of storytelling to a new level, but when it works….wahaaaay, the results are worth it!



 

TEA & TALK

Commissioned by the Aviva Community Fund & krow




 


The best part of these projects is meeting the people whose stories you will be bringing to life. The first in-person meeting is like a very awkward blind date, that quickly dives straight to 3rd base. You need to extract a lot of information and prepare them to be filmed, whilst simultaneously gaining trust, being sensitive and above all, being respectful. There is rarely an opportunity to “cast” the films talent, so you’re really hoping when you arrive to film, that on top of their story, which can often be traumatic, they also possess a charisma and confidence to regale said story on screen, emotively and articulately - not much to ask of someone then! Even with some gentle coaxing, this is mostly all down to luck! And I can tell you, it does not always work as hoped, and in those moments you have to be reactive and creative. Thankfully many years of experience and swift pivoting has not failed us yet!


We have always been immensely proud of the filming crew at SubMotion, who are made up of a group of pretty nerdy, but respectful, polite, professional and kind talented people. It’s paramount you trust the crew you bring onto these projects, not only for the reputation of the company, but most importantly to put those in front of the camera at ease. You can find yourself in some pretty weird scenarios, so a good sense of humour is a plus! If creative freedom allows, the documentary style of a charity film can take on a whole new Louis Theroux vibe. One could, for example, arrive planning to film one person, but then meet their Grandma who is an amazing character and a brilliant additional lens in which to tell the story through. So, the next thing, the whole crew are all sitting in her lounge, untouched since 1969, surrounded by crochet cat cushions, eating gone off yoghurts and in floods of tears. Yes, this is a thing that happened. But - what rich and layered context it gives the story! The weird moments tend to end up being the linchpin and golden moments of the film. My advice to anyone venturing into making a charity film is to be as open, nimble and curious as you can. Without over stepping the mark mind.



 



LIGHTHOUSE WOMENS AID

Commissioned by Suffolk Building Society



 


Times are changing, and businesses are encouraged more than ever to help community projects and charities, by putting profits to work in other sectors rather than just bolstering shareholders. As a result, we are seeing many more ESG and CSR initiatives come to life. Now, there is a lot of backlash about ESG, and I get it, it’s a topic I will cover soon, but surely there is nothing to be discouraged about using business profits or volunteer opportunities to help support local, national or global initiatives that are striving to make life for humans, wildlife or the planet better? There is no downside here and charities are crying out for support.


In more words from one of the bravest young ladies of all time:


“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”


- Anne Frank


So go and encourage your CEO, marketing team, Husband / Wife, yourself or whoever you work alongside and persuade them to support a charity in some way. An organisation that resonates with your own ethos and mission statement. And if you do, make a film about it - with us, with someone else, with whoever! But work together to tell the story of the charity, and those it supports, with true authenticity and heart.


And before you know it, we’ll all be watching it, crying into our tea once more, faith in humanity restored.




You can watch more of our charity film projects below:













































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