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THE FORMULA

Many of the above projects are chosen and developed to a specific overall plan of The Brock Initiative. They are, in effect, a series of pilots, planned and designed to achieve examples of what others can do.

(1) Single Films, as in Madagascar (Anna) and Tanzania (Ben). These have been successful, made a difference very quickly and further versions in Tanzania have been made from the original “main” film. Local television exposure is expected. All these films become interchangeable in Madagascar, Tanzania and Kenya because they all cover the same subject – how to look after water in rivers and lakes. The current 25 films in Kenya on the same subject will soon be added to that resource plus any outside films that can expand the variety available on that subject. These happen to be a few examples but the formula/idea/blueprint is now tried and tested for others to learn from. In other words “Take The Brock Initiative. Take it Away!”

(2) A Mix of Films. As with the Kenya’s freshwater wetlands but now being expanded to the same idea on the coast, again a range of short films on various aspects. Some in Swahili, made to the wishes and alongside the local people – a genuine co-production. Again, these can be swapped into other communities on coasts elsewhere, and vice versa, in effect a wide ranging mix-and-match system. We are already following the same process for Kenya’s forests and grasslands. We intend to cover all the major ecosystems of the country (e.g. deserts, mountains) with the result (in 2006?) we can offer Kenya, for its curriculum in schools, NGO’s, individuals, up to 200 films of great variety but all specifically chosen and made – co produced – to make the maximum impact and difference where it counts at all levels of society. We have chosen East Africa for this pilot but I suggest the same process could be applied, but adjusted for local consumption, in countries from Albania to Zanzibar (actually we are doing a film there, on Pemba, on fruit bats!).

(3) Global. Take turtles and whales, conservation icons. We have filmed them - the good news, the bad news, in many countries. We also have welcome offers of films or footage to augment our own. Having selected the appropriate location/issue/particular aspect, we work out locally what versions are most likely to help. The turtle or whale footage is then shaped, perhaps with new local shooting, to what’s required to do the job on the spot. This is likely to be more effective than single, longer films made, perhaps dubbed, in a distant country e.g. USA, Europe though the contents if made available (cost?) would be very welcome to add to the basic library of footage we already have. That is a contribution big broadcasters should consider making, e.g. a payback to the oceans which they have “celebrated” on television and made much money from (43 million Euros (plus) in the case of BBC’s Blue Planet – Time magazine.)

 

The sequence of events

We have evolved this suggested process to help film-makers who often feel isolated and unable to get advice, and who maybe uncertain as to how to proceed and are unsure whether their ideas will work. We can show what we have done, mistakes and successes, and offer footage or contacts that will help them proceed. We work closely with FFC (Filmmakers For Conservation) and TVE (Television Trust for the Environment) and we hope to expand our wide network even further.


The same basic steps are:

(1) List your potential target audiences. It could be a few individual decision-makers – president, heads of tourism or a corporation, national parks, environment … possibly accompanied by a personal letter in the appropriate “speak” not just the local language but in tourism-speak, using an international perspective, financial aspects, as appropriate. Other decision-makers, at the other extreme, in the village or local school (age?), will obviously see very different films. But across the wide range of relevant target audiences, usually about 30, it should be possible to make a difference.

(2) List the content for those audiences and the films you will make for each of them (some films can cover several kinds of audience). In some cases, e.g. communities, schools, develop and make the films with them (as Ben did in Tanzania: they wrote their own music, joined in the filming and editing). Ensure they get what works for them, and so other villages and schools will want to do the same. That technique can work anywhere, in other countries.

(3) Equipment. Obviously crucial – in a changing world. There’s no point in any of all this if the results cannot be seen and heard (don’t forget the potential of radio – more important than TV in some places). Audiences can either come to a centre, which had the facilities, or the equipment can be taken to the location. Of course this already happens in many countries and it’s important to check early on what else is being done to reach the people. We find such efforts are already being made but are often not very well planned or co-ordinated. We certainly do not wish to take over in any way, rather to support, offer a global perspective, advice and contribute films or footage to the projects already under way. VIP’s will have their own VHS, DVD, etc. equipment. Film projectors still exist but new video/DVD projectors (?solar-powered, more sturdy, cheaper, simpler?) are coming along all the time. It could be certain suppliers, companies, benefactors would contribute with this kind of equipment?

(4) Human resources. So far “bright green sparks” have appeared and successfully carried out projects that especially suit them. The Brock Initiative provides the backing, support, and sometimes money. A interesting role to explore is the person who ensures the films are distributed, checked, updated, accompanied by other material (booklets, teaching material, etc), provided in a fresh and varied way over a period of time if possible, and who obtains feedback on response, results and ideas for the future. And funding!?

(5) Funding – the bottom line. Since I started this idea some two years ago, with my own money, we have kept going through various forms of income. If I had had to raise the money from outside then, I’d probably still be waiting! But as our C.V. improves and we can show increasing success around the world, I believe we stand a better chance of adding to our income – in effect getting back some of my investment two years ago.

We are grateful to: Prior Park School, Fauna and Flora International (from their promo, which has raised £15 million for them so far). Earthwatch/Vodafone, David Harper, Penny Delmon, Keith Montgomery, the British Council (two paid trips to India to help wildlife film-making there), Graham Gilding, Applecart, Filmmakers for Conservation, Wildscreen, and the Elsamere Trust. We have made several promotional videos in exchange for valuable facilities and beyond that have made extra films for local community use. This is a win-win-win system, which we can explain to anyone looking for ideas about funding. Paul Butler (R.A.R.E.) had produced his splendid formula for saving parrots in the Caribbean which he has done most effectively. I have received many personal offers of help and support. “Inspiring” is a word I hear quite often. If that means helping others to help the planet then we are delighted and encouraged to press on and made a difference.

Richard Brock