The power of visual storytelling to create an impact in the real world is plentiful. Of late, there is this new format of social short films that are catching up and seeding change in its own ways. How strong is the impact that these short social documentary films make?
In my last post “From Wedding Photography, How We Found a Documentary Filmmaking Brand,” we saw how we got into this passionate habit of making powerful short social documentary films that bring out the unsung real-life heroes to the limelight. In this post, we will see the impact and merits of the films that we make in Big Short Films.
The Essence of Short Social Positive Documentary Films
When we started Big Short Films, the prime idea was to bring out the real, unsung positive stories that exist around us and inspire the world with the goodness of it. There was a clear motive on why we began with shorter ones (currently we are working on full-length documentary films). The idea was to make sure the films reach to all the segments of the society, rather than a select set of audience. That’s why we started making films around the three-minute duration and open-sourced them online for free. This made it accessible to a larger set of people across the world. For instance, the leading video above is the inspiring story of an individual who dedicated his life to the education of underprivileged children. Years in a row, he had been active in conducting tuitions for children from his slum-neighborhood, for free. It is a journey of seven-plus years and to bring it all into a film of three to four minutes is challenging. But what matters is the result, the essence of the film conveying the story convincingly. Watch to find it out for yourself.
The Ability to Communicate Clear and Concise
Having said that, the potential of these short social documentary films to communicate the message is convincing. For instance, take the film "I AM SAI" attached below. It is the story of a neighborhood initiative where a group of adults with autism comes together, start a bakery, and tackle the hurdles in their lives. The founder of this initiative had quite a task in explaining the cause of the initiative to different people when she approached them for partnerships. But this short social documentary we made for them very well stood as a visiting card in all the avenues she went ahead and pitched the story. She was able to showcase the content and intent of the initiative in a short and precise way. The fact that it is visually engaging comes in as an advantage to have the conversation going forward. NGOs, social enterprises, and even corporate firms have been making great use of such format short films recently, with the right mix of emotion and information carried through them.
The Ability to Reach Far and Wide
We upload all the films we make on YouTube, Facebook, and other social media channels for anyone to download and share it across. This has really worked well and comes handy in promoting messages that need to. For instance, there is one film named “Seed Ball” that we made earlier this year. It is about an interesting concept of combining seeds and soil together, to make seed balls that can be thrown on the go. Over the time with the water from the rain, these seed balls sprout into plants and then become trees. Based on the law of nature and aimed to encourage afforestation, this is a novel concept that needs to reach millions of people. And yes, it did cross six million views and is still counting. But what is more important than the numbers is the fact that the concept became a big hit. Schools and colleges took this up as a must-learn activity. Workshops were conducted across the state to promote the goodness of seed balls, and it almost became a movement.
The Power to Create Real Change
Of everything, what fascinates the most is the power of these short social documentary films to create real change in the lives of the social heroes we shoot. Even though these people are people doing extraordinary things, their simple roots keep them hidden and not many know about them. Through these films, a lot of them have been brought into the limelight. Take this film for instance. It is the story of a traffic cop who treats his mundane job with some magic and makes it look all so interesting. The result? His passion and perseverance on the field gave him a 100% track record of maintaining an accident-free zone under his experience. You have to watch the film to understand what makes him special. The film we made of him went viral online and reached so far that even the government officials had their share of interest and he was promoted to a level higher. Similarly, each and every short social documentary film we made created a real-time change in the lives of the social heroes we shot.
The Possibility of a Dialogue for Change
The dialogues these short social documentary films create on the public forum is transforming. As much as these films bring about a change in the lives of the subjects, they also create a lasting impression in the minds of the viewers across the world. For instance, there is this film named “A Ride to Remember” that got selected in SSAFF (Seattle South Asian Film Festival) 2016 and created a ripple in the global forum. More essentially, these films also create a dialogue at the micro-community level, which is quintessential for change to happen from the grass root level. This dialogue is necessary.
With this purpose-driven vision, we at Big Short Films are actively pushing ourselves to create more short social documentary films. There are challenges but the results keep us going. You can take a look at the films we have shot so far in our YouTube channel. It is motivating to realize the onus we all have as fellow storytellers. It is our duty to leverage the power of visual storytelling in ways we can and create a positive dent in this universe.