Thirty-six out of sixty-seven. That’s how many days we’ve spent in our champion white Dodge Caravan as we tour around the country sharing stories that are very close to our hearts.
On day thirty-six I woke up, like most of the days on tour, in the local Best Western at 7:30 sharp with 25 minutes to get ready, 10 minutes to head down to the lobby and snag some coffee (hoping to find something Fair Trade), and then a ride over to the workshop venue.
On this day though, as I woke up in Washington, something was off.
As I skimmed through my morning emails, a routine I imagine many of us share, I got email after email with the same sentiment. Friends, colleagues, industry manufacturers – all the same message.
‘Did you see their new website?’
‘Wow, did you catch that?’
‘Seems more than a little odd, no?’
Obviously curious I clicked on the link. And there it was.
Hmmm. Eerily familiar, no?
Let’s back up for a moment. As I’m sitting in the Best Western checking all of this out, I was struck with the connection between what I’d found and the tour we were one. The impetus behind these 67 days in a mini-van is to bring our documentary, #standwithme, to the world. It’s the empowering story of a 9-year-old using lemonade to change the world.
While #standwithme explores the issue of child slavery in the world today, what it really leaves you with is the importance in knowing the story behind your products.
It’s so easy for us as consumers, regardless of what we buy, to disconnect ourselves from all of the hands that came together to bring a product or service to life. As Paul Rice (founder of Fair Trade USA and two time Social Entrepreneur of the Year) often puts it, ‘we rarely see the farmer in the bottom of our coffee cup’.
If we did though, if we saw those on the other end of the products we buy, we’d realize just how much power we have every time we make a purchase and vote with our shopping dollars. As Vivienne is building her lemonade stand, day after day, to raise funds to free 500 enslaved children, we have a moment of narration that is one of the most striking and actionable lines in the film.
“If we are the company we keep, perhaps we too are the companies that we keep. When we buy what we buy, whether we know it or not, we play a part of their story. We have an opportunity to empower a market with meaning, with purpose…Because every day we decide how these stories end.”
And so, as I sat here browsing the site, seeing similarity after similarity – I was reminded of the power we all have in knowing the story behind everything we buy.
So I looked deeper. Could it just be a coincidence? Feature after feature, page after page. I don’t play roulette, but I do know that if you spin that wheel a dozen times and it comes up red every single time, that’d be awfully hard to accomplish via chance.
We collectively create the industry we are a part of. Remember, a skyscraper is nothing more than the collection of bricks that hold it up. That’s us, each one of us.It’s so important that we ask ourselves what are we okay with? They say imitation is one of the greatest forms of flattery, but how far is too far?
I’m not sitting here pretending I know the answer. It’s a tough question, and one we all need to look at. Einstein say ‘The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.’ Nothing happens in a vacuum. We live, learn, and grow by what we experience around us.
Make sure you watch until at least 2:08. Hilarious!!
We know this – we certainly believe in the power of sharing ideas, of helping people tell stronger stories, and in return learning from so many incredible people on how we can tell our stories better.
We’ve spent years sharing our ideas on storytelling and filmmaking in the hopes of empowering other filmmakers. That’s never been about helping you tell stories like Stillmotion, it’s about helping you find your own voice. And over the years we’ve experienced our share of films that are more than just inspired by our work. I’m sure many of you have have also experienced somebody else going a little too far with the inspiration they’ve drawn from something you’ve done.
It’s tough to put yourself out there, to be so completely open, and to have somebody take it too far. But every time that happens – Every. Single. Time – We meet a hundred more filmmakers who have taken that inspiration in a different direction, and used it to reach their own audience, with their own stories, in a more powerful way.
And of course we just keep on sharing, collaborating, and trying to push our storytelling to new depths. In this case, I’d expect that is exactly what Marmoset will do. But when this happens, we also have to take a step back, pause, and realize the role each one of us plays in creating the industry we truly want to be a part of. What we do matters.