Our first feature film, 64 minutes in length – how do you possibly make 96,120 frames all say the same thing?
Every story you tell will come with a million decisions.
We can turn our backs, hide under the covers, or close our eyes. None of that will make them go away.
Think about something fairly straightforward like an interview. You’ve got your aperture, iso, shutter speed, camera height, focal length, white balance, picture profiles, lighting ratio, location, eyeline…okay, you get the point.
When I started filmmaking, I’d make every single one of those decisions with the same thing in mind ‘just make it look good’. But what is ‘looking good’? And it’s probably safe to say that not every story should look that way.
It’s tough business. A million decisions, all hitting you at once, while you’ve got to stay on schedule, get the shots, and find time in all of that to eat and breathe.
So we get overwhelmed and It’s easy to miss or dismiss so many of the decisions. For so long I didn’t know how camera height affected story, that shooting down on somebody could diminish them, or shooting up could give them power and authority.
But guess what? Every time I setup my camera, I was still saying something with my camera height, whether I knew it or not.
Our challenge then, as filmmakers, is to take those million decisions and make them with intention – harness their power to drive your story.
We need a rhythm, a resonance, a way to have them all point in the same direction.
Realistically, it’s impossible. Let’s just get that out of the way. No amount of pre-production will let you make every single decision with intention when met with the realities of bringing the story to life.
Our goal as storytellers shouldn’t be to chase the perfect story. Just take one more step forward. Listen more deeply this time.
We do this by creating keywords; 5 words that will be a filter for all of our decisions.
We come to these 5 words by listening. By immersing ourselves in the story. It’s why we believe that the best storytellers are the best listeners.
These 5 words represent what this story really is, what it means, and what we want it’s impact on people to be.
Ever heard the parable of the sculptor that when asked how he came to his masterpiece said that he listened to the marble? As opposed to showing up with your hammer and diving right into the rock with mighty force, we listen, let the story be heard, and then allow it to come through us.
But once we’re moved, it’s on.
We’ll use these 5 words to guide all of our decisions. We’ll use these 5 words to try and get all 92,160 frames to same the same thing.
And when somebody watches these 92,160 frames, it’s these 5 words, their essence, that they will be left with.
For #standwithme, these were our five keywords; One, Light, Subjective, Community, Impact.
So today, as we release #standwithme to the world, it’s these five words that we are truly sharing with you.
One – One person is enough to make a difference. You share the film, you facilitate a conversation, you make a difference in the lives of the people around you. Vivienne is one 9-year-old who showed us that a bunch of small steps can lead to a much bigger difference.
Light – Slavery is not easy to talk about. It was so important that this film be a beacon of hope, inspiration, and empowerment rather than something that knocks the wind out of you, and leaves you with little to do. By staying in the light, this issue and what each of us can do, becomes much more accessible.
Subjective – We each have a perspective to share. Slavery is built on objectification, turning a child into a tool for economic gain. We chose to fight that by bringing each person in this story to life, letting you get to know them. When we truly see each other as beings with value, dreams, and desires, how can we not share their story?
Community – Hey it’s all about community. Our connection to one another is based on the discussion we have and the stories we share. When you share #standwithme you are creating a community of people who can connect and support each other in their endeavors to create their own movement.
Impact – Making an impact on your own community, no matter how slight, is actually a really underrated experience. Think about the last time you left an impact on another person. Now think about the last time something left an impact on you. You have an amazing ability to touch the people around you, offer them support, and move them in a really positive way. Best. Feeling. Ever.
And when you choose to share this film with friends, it’s these same five things you will be sharing with them.
This is our first feature-length film. We’ve got a ton to learn. I mean, so much that sometimes it feels really, really overwhelming.
But for all we have still to learn, we know this – the most important step you’ll take, is always going to be your next one.
We dove into our first feature length film. We funded most of it ourselves. We made mistakes. Lots of them. But we are better storytellers, and better people, for the time we shared with this story.
As we bring #standwithme to the world, know that every rental means the world to us.
It’s you believing in our dream that a group of wedding filmmakers can take on stories much bigger, deeper, and more complex than we’d ever imagined. The belief that a well told story can really make a difference.
And when you share #standwithme you’re helping bring that dream to life, as well as 5 powerful words.
One. Light. Subjective. Community. Impact.
Thank you friends for sharing your time with us.
For letting us dream out loud.
For being so supportive of every step of our journey.
Yekra is a revolutionary new distribution network for feature films.
Only a 9-year-old would dream a lemonade stand could free 500 enslaved children. After seeing a photo of two enslaved boys in Nepal, Vivienne Harr is moved to help in the only way she knows how: by setting up her lemonade stand. With the goal of freeing 500 children from slavery, she sets up her stand every day, rain or shine. In telling Vivienne’s story, #standwithme examines the realities of modern-day slavery, the role we play in it as consumers, and the importance of knowing the story behind what we buy.