THE (R)EVOLUTION OF STORYTELLING:
MAKING VIDEO PRODUCTION MORE DIVERSE, INCLUSIVE AND SUSTAINABLE
August 1, 2021
Our world is changing faster than ever. Covid has taken away our freedom to travel and connect. Black Lives Matter has revealed how entrenched systemic racism remains. And Western hegemony keeps declining as other parts of the globe claim their rightful places. And yet, most of the stories we feed ourselves about ‘them’ are still made by ‘us’. Makmende Media has always understood this problem, seeking collaborations with media professionals in so-called underdeveloped parts of the planet since its inception. And now, with a pandemic that keeps on raging, Makmende is letting go of the Western gaze even further. In its hybrid events, which combine the best of the offline and online experiences, people from across the globe create magic together.
Gabrielle de Mijolla was faced with a rather daunting challenge: producing video content from 24 countries in a mere 3 months’ time.
De Mijolla is Senior Communications & Project Manager at the Cartier Women’s Initiative (CWI), an annual international entrepreneurship programme that aims to drive change by empowering female entrepreneurs with a strong and sustainable social and/or environmental impact. And De Mijolla needed these women, 24 in all, to be portrayed. In video. Of high quality in terms of storyline, and with a consistent look and feel. In short, De Mijolla faced the sort of challenge that many an international organization faces, particularly when running business incubators, learning academies or other types of campaigns that need publicity.
As the videos had to be produced within a very short time span, the classical approach of flying a film crew around the world wouldn’t work (not to mention COVID-19). The only way to get the job done was employing and managing multiple film crews simultaneously; crews that were based close to the women they needed to portray. And due to its many years of experience with this sort of approach, Makmende Media knows exactly how to do this.
De Mijolla: “We chose to work with Makmende because we like their globally connected, yet locally rooted approach that leverages local crews for all the shoots. And secondly because it’s a value-aligned organization that has worked with many other impact-driven organizations around the world.”
“This was such a vast project that it required loads of logistics”, De Mijolla continues. “Makmende oversaw all that from beginning to end. The whole process seemed incredibly smooth and streamlined, but I’m sure Makmende had to deal with lots of complications this year due to COVID-19. But they didn’t let it show, and that took a lot of stress away from us.”
“To be completely frank with you, sometimes I still don’t understand how we have been able to pull this project off”, says Maja Trivanovic, Head of Production at Makmende Media. “The COVID-19 travel restrictions alone were a real headache. One of the CWI Fellows was based in rural Australia for example, and we couldn’t even bring in a film crew from Sydney; luckily we ended up finding a great crew from her local area. And then there were just the ‘normal’ unforeseen circumstances. When we were about to film a Fellow in Texas, snowstorms suddenly erupted all throughout the state, cutting off the power supply in her home.”
Then there was the question of how to alchemize footage sent to Amsterdam from all over the world into a series of videos with a similar look and feel – a consistency in terms of visuals, rhythm, storyline and so on. Here, too, Makmende Media could rely on more than a decade of doing precisely that. “This consistency doesn’t start in the editing room, although it does end there”, says Trivanovic. “It starts with doing solid research, briefing our crews thoroughly and tracking their progress throughout the filming process.”
The CWI project really broadened her horizon, Trivanovic says. “It was fantastic to be in contact with people in 24 countries simultaneously. You start following each other on Instagram and Facebook, integrating into each other’s networks and forming new ones. And watching the final videos, I saw 24 women shine who really, really deserve that. ‘Unbelievable’, I remember thinking to myself. ‘There are SO many special, smart and talented women in the world! Yes, this has been a real wow project.”
To generate maximum impact, the videos will be shared through CWI’s communications channels, like their social media and their website, but also through the broader Cartier ecosystem. De Mijolla: “We also add them to a media kit which we’ll send to our fellows and their extended communities, so that they can spread the word as well.”
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Ever seen a locust up-close? In the summer of 2020, Ethiopia and Somalia experienced the worst locust invasion in 25 years. The Dutch Relief Alliance (DRA) wanted to produce video content about the emergency relief they were providing, to inform donors of the severity of the situation