Archive for the ‘ work ’ Category

Unwatchable… 7 days to go

So we missed the summer, are now on our fourth design iteration and have a new partner in Vava Tampa from Save the Congo.

Of course nothing is finished yet but it’s good to have deadlines 😉

Hard to believe but it’s actually going to happen, who would have thought chucking out one film would be so difficult.

Not sure when on the 27th the site etc will be public but will obviously be shouting about it.

Advertisements

Make it Stop – It’s Unwatchable!

What’s fantastic about this project and to an extent, process is the ability to ask questions of y’all along the way – when you’ve got literally hundreds of thousands of copies of Marie Claire around the world talking about the campaign and given it’s social roots, it’s not like it’s a secret. So today I need yet another bit of advice.

We are getting closer and closer but in the last week a debate has manifest about the overall branding of the campaign i.e name.

‘Unwatchable’ which Marc Hawker came up with at the start has been the campaign name for almost a year the name which has been heavily utilised in Marie Claire near enough globally and basically the accounts, URL and all the social prep are branded such.

Unwatchable may accurately describe the film and what’s going on in the Congo but does it work as a campaign title? That is the question. Are we wedded to this now? Well to be honest if something better came along that worked on the web, google, facebook and twitter then I reckon we’d embrace it. That’s the thing about ideas, you’ve got to be able to chuck em away when they aren’t working.

There is currently an idea floating around the group that the name of the campaign needs to be more declarative and the proposal is simply ‘Make It Stop!’.

As an internal bit of communication I actually don’t mind it… you’ve watched or are watching something horrific – what do you want to do – well you obviously want to ‘Make it Stop!’ however am concerned about it’s salience and an overall external bit of comms.

The objective facts as I can see em.

In the Unwatchable corner:

1. The name has been around for more than six months
2. When you type the word ‘Unwatchable’ into google you find us on the first page
3. We ‘own’ @unwatchable and even today #unwatchable is often about us
4. If you type ‘unwatchable’ into facebook we are top of the list

In the Make It Stop corner
1. Domains are available (well they might not be after I post this)
2. It’s a generic term that isn’t owned – so with google you never know if you campaign around it it might get traction
3. @makeitstop is gone and #makeitstop is an existing twitterism so no joy there
4. There are at least a dozen groups simply called ‘make it stop’ on facebook already so therefore you would have to qualify the statement with words like ‘Rape’ & ‘Congo’ which means you might as well say ‘Make Rape in the Congo Stop’ which currently takes you to a whole bunch of NGO’s anyway.
5. the NSPCC have the line about child abuse Make it Stop, Full stop which surprisingly doesn’t actually rank that highly in google – largely because Childline is the ‘brand’

Neither mentions the actual subject matter and actually we all quite like the line ‘Is your phone rape free?’ . FYI – We can’t actually say ‘make your phone rape free’ because the whole point of the campaign is about the lack of transparency from the electronics manufacturers in their supply chain so they could sue us ironically.

Disclosure: Obviously I think a campaign name change at this point is foolish simply because of the global press we’ve had already but need some support from the cognoscente out there to support the case to not change it.

So here is the question. Yes to Unwatchable? Yes to Make it Stop? Yes to something completely different as its all up for grabs it would seem. I have a meeting on thursday to discuss so could *really* use some help / comments between now and then and please be blunt.

Assuming we get through this this week you may well end up seeing a campaign this side of 2012.

Also feel free to fire over any additional questions about the campaign if I haven’t already covered them here or elsewhere on the blog!

j

(If you have no idea what I’m on about read through the other Unwatchable posts to get the gist of it btw.)

Downsizer – to the MAX

Happy New Year and all that… major update a coming but I wanted to talk a little bit about the (other)  film project myself and a few others are trying to get made.

When I started the crowd-sourcing exploration almost a year ago one of the options was ‘Make a film’. When chatting to Marc Hawker (dir: Unwatchable) he said ‘so what film do you want to make?’

Given my state of mind I said ‘It has to take place in an office, it has to be a comedy and have a serious bodycount’. Nothing like a bit of cathartic violence to soothe a troubled mind.

Anyway I immediately enlisted my long time collaborator Stuart Barr who took the notion *way* out there. We started trying to make a full treatment for a feature film but realised, with the advice of Joe Pavlo who I roped in to direct,  that we’d be still working on it in 2015 if we tried to overstretch, instead decided to make a short which essentially introduces the world and *could* be the first 10 or so minutes of the film.

We’ve gone through a number of script revisions and still have a couple more to do but we are getting close.

Joe noticed just before Christmas that PepsiMax were running a film making competition with a 30k prize so he quickly ran out, made a little skate film and entered it – judging by the quality of the other entries we reckon we’ve got a shot but the closing date for voting is Sunday.

So what we need people to do (grovel grovel) is vote:

http://bit.ly/gGyL0J

Five star of course! If we win the competition we’ll have Downsizer made by the spring and I promise you won’t be disappointed by the results!

Feelings about ‘unwatchable’, 10:10 and the wonderful insanity of the Internet

As many of you will know, amongst other things, I’ve been working on a project with Darkfibre to raise awareness of the horror in the Congo, and the links between electronics manufacturers and the weaponised rape that happens there on a daily basis. It’s been an absolutely extraordinary experience, both frustrating and fulfilling in equal measures.

For who have read the various bits and bobs in Marie Claire – the campaign is due to launch at the beginning of February 2011.

In the meantime I thought I’d share a little bit about the campaign and how it relates to the current 10:10 debacle.

The campaign centres around a film, god forbid viral in nature. Anybody who knows me knows I’m as cynical as they come about the whole viral mumble, but in this case I read the script and knew immediately it would spread – whether for the right reasons remains to be seen.

It’s actually an incredibly simple idea: “What if what was happening there was happening here – wouldn’t we do something about it?”

As such it’s a straight transposition of a terrifying number of true stories. In brief, an armed group turn up, rape and murder a family in the Cotswalds.

So now you don’t have to watch it.

It’s an incredibly strong film. It illustrates the humiliation, dehumanisation and desecration that is a part of daily life – if you live in the eastern provinces on the Congo.

Given that I myself have had some misgivings about the film I sent out a rough cut to some close friends and family to ask their opinion on whether the ‘line’ which we are dancing with had been crossed.

One of the ‘best’ was from the girlfriend of a mate, and hope she doesn’t mind me sharing this:

I have watched this as someone who knows little about the making of films, but i am a consumer, a rights lawyer, someone who lobbies for these very same issues and a woman. My first reaction was to be physically sick (and i was)- my second was to say ‘the world needs to see this’.

Public denial is a deeply rooted problem in the educated West – we turn the channel over when adverts show the homeless, the hungry, the dying, the tortured, the victims of political and economic unethical practice – people tune into Comic Relief for the funny stuff and make tea when the images of starving children take over the screen… unless you force it, ram it, into peoples lives there will never be the reaction necessary to provoke the awareness that true change needs… It is no longer acceptable to be sugar-coated by a mainstream approach to these issues – when we dress it up in rock concerts and wrist bands… it means nothing to the general population unless they actually see and feel and have a visceral experience … and in 6 long painful uncomfortable minutes Unwatchable achieves this.

The danger is that it is indeed such a controversial way of illustrating the problem that people will relate it merely to their own lives, and fear for their own wives and daughters instead of contextualize it into the ‘show and tell’ it actually is. If this happens the danger may be that the subject will be eclipsed by peoples own private fears and this be talked about and shared for the wrong reasons. it would indeed by tragic if the film was known for sensational value rather than the issues it seeks to expose… but my personal view, and from my experience of lobbying for change through ‘conventional’ methods (which seldom works in the face of media spin and red tape) is that nothing short of horrific, unthinkable, fear and pity inducing images can achieve this. Whether this film is shared with the world or not, the horror in the Congo continues – 200 times a day no less – why the hell shouldnt we force people to sit uncomfortably for a while – on balance the change and awareness it will provoke will outweigh the shock value of those who are merely morbidly curious about such images.

be brave – someone has to be.

All the feedback has been incredibly useful, even from those who hated it. There was a common theme that if you are going to drag somebody into such a horrible place you need to have all the supporting information there – right there – when they watch it.

Tell me more they said, after they stopped crying or shouting.

I might sound flippant but given I can’t watch the film, or even talk about the reality, without bursting into tears I reckon somebody somewhere will forgive me.

Then along comes the ‘No Pressure’ campaign from 10:10, embedded here.

The campaign genuinely couldn’t have gone more wrong.

They made a film which wasn’t funny, with a message that was so easy to misinterpret, they blew up children for a giggle, then pulled the campaign and apologised inspiring both sides of the argument to denounce the whole thing.  You can see some of the feedback here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/green-living-blog/2010/oct/04/10-10-activism

Anyway this whole mess has had far reaching repercussions in the Charity/NGO world. Basically nobody is will to take risks now for fear of a major backlash.

Seems to me the trick is to be responsible about what exactly you are releasing so I’ve tried to put together a bit of a plan, outlined below, to avoid the 10:10 turbulence. This was written prior to the launch of their campaign and I guess the question is: Is there any more that we can do?

How do we prevent children from seeing it?

On the Internet it’s simply impossible to stop anybody from seeing anything.

However you can be responsible and there are steps that can be taken to limit exposure.

We are tagging the content as inappropriate for minors. Essentially we are voluntarily black listing it.

It means that it won’t appear in google (or other search engines) if ‘safe search’ is on.

It won’t turn up in any environment that has a ‘net nanny’ system, eg. every school, many work places and anybody who has opted-in at home.

We are creating a player to contain the film which will have age verification at the start (same as alcohol sites, etc). While this doesn’t really stop anyone it does make it perfectly clear what we are trying to.

How do we prevent people to whom it will cause serious upset from seeing it accidentally?

We want to include BBFC certification up front to make it clear it’s intended for mature audiences.

We have worked hard on the messaging included before the film to make sure that the viewer knows they are going to watch something deeply upsetting; We called the film ‘Unwatchable’ for a reason.

There will be NO mass email mail-outs. There are many lists which have demographic information attached so in theory we could filter out kids, however, what we don’t know is anything more specific about the individuals’ lives eg. The potential for the recipient to have been a victim of sexual violence, so therefore we will rely on a social distribution.

We are also working with a major NGO in the UK to make sure there is a help-line to support those who are affected by viewing.

How do we insure that they can ‘find out more’?

The main purpose of the interactive player is to be able to keep the facts about the Congo with the film at all times.

The extended content is a detailed FAQ about the background of the conflict in the Congo, Conflict Minerals, The Making of… (or more to the point: Why we made it), and ways that people can help and get involved.

We won’t be pushing out the film on its own.

How do we prevent people ‘mashing’ it up / editing out the context?

Realistically we can’t, however we can make it harder.

By embedding the film within our own player we can make it more difficult to get a full copy of the film out.

That being said, anybody who is technically minded will be able to extract it, but hopefully it will be enough to dissuade the casual masher.

However – forewarned is forearmed so if anybody reading this wants to take the film and abuse it so we can learn before launch. Please ping me and I’ll sort you out with a copy.

How do we respond to a backlash?

We are showing as many NGOs and relevant charities as possible, as well as journalists, prior to launch to make them aware and insure they don’t fuel any kind of media hysteria.  We want to pre-empt and respond as much as possible. We know there will be a backlash – we can but minimise the damage.

On the net the only thing you can really do is be absolutely open, honest and transparent. Unlike other campaigns there is no opposition here eg. Barring the crazies, nobody is going say that RAPE IS OK, and one would hope that the more rational voices on the net will challenge or simply ignore trolls.

However people will question our methods – the need to shock, the setting – and accuse us of sensationalism. As mentioned above, we have prepared an extensive FAQ (embedded with the film) which aims to address the most obvious lines of attack. The reality is we want to shock, challenge taboos, create noise, but we’re very much aware it is our responsibility to ensure anger, disgust, horror is channelled into useful action.

We will have twitter, facebook, linkedin, etc. manned to answer and discuss the issues and the film.

So have I missed anything? The campaign isn’t launching now till the new year so we have plenty of time to ‘get it right’. And we want to.

I’d really appreciate any and all suggestions of how we can behave as responsibly as possible with this.

Thorts?

Advertisements