Promo Video Part 1 (see Part 2 below)
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In the Spring of 2018, I began filming a newly-launched social venture competition developed for employees of RiseBoro, the largest social services agency in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn. The call went out to 600 employees at a town hall-style meeting, asking what could work better in the community.
Fifty competitors responded, and they began attending workshops and mentoring sessions based on the RebelBase step-by-step innovation platform - covering everything from prototype to financials, all with the aim of maximizing social impact. I spent the year filming with participants as they developed initiatives aimed at transforming the food, the homes, the healthcare, the education, and, ultimately, the quality of life for Bushwick’s neediest residents.
MEET THE FINALISTS
Promo Video Part 2
The ambition and determination I witnessed among the contestants was fierce, and their personal stories were humbling. Among others in the film you will meet Micii, a woman who gave birth without missing a single work session; Anaís, a full-time RiseBoro employee also attending grad school full-time in addition to participating in the competition; and Ivan, recovering from losing his home and his job in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy and grateful to have found his place in the Bushwick community. I came to see these competitors as superheroes discovering their powers through this rare opportunity to create solutions to the problems that they were seeing daily in their lives as counselors, social workers and administrators.
In the fall I filmed the semi-final event that narrowed the competition to three finalists – three women of color - who were then invited to present their initiatives at a glamorous gala fundraising event at the Brooklyn Museum. These women worked throughout the winter, and in May of 2019, they pitched their projects before a panel of judges at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Brooklyn. The judges used the RebelBase platform to evaluate these new solutions and ask tough questions about feasibility, scalability, and impact. RiseBoro CEO Scott Short awarded the grand prize of a $30,000 seed grant from the community partnership.
Although there was just one winner, each competitor experienced a major transformation over the course of the year, and many described it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Though the competition is over, I now need to film follow ups with the winner and others. To date I have edited several short clips from the hundred + hours of footage I’ve gathered. Now we need a budget to bring the film to a polished rough cut stage suitable for festivals and showing distributors.
Here's how the cost breaks down:
Editor for 15 weeks @ $2750 / week - $41,250
Crew and Equipment for 4 shoot days @ $1500 / day - $6,000
Editing Suite - $7,500
Expendables - $1,000
Rights and Legal - $6,000
Associate Producer - $10,000
Promotion and Entry Fees - $3250
Once the film is completed, I will enter it in film festivals and show it widely at universities, conferences and libraries around the country. After that, I will offer the film for distribution on a streaming service such as Youtube, Netflix, Hulu or Amazon.
WHY MAKE THE RIC DOCUMENTARY?
Not only will this film portray the excitement of watching innovators overcome the ceaseless challenges of starting a business, it also will pose an enticing question: is it true that the power to be an entrepreneur lies in anyone’s hands? The issues the Bushwick neighborhood faces loom large throughout the documentary. The backstories of the contestants are both personal and political; their family stories frame the real stakes of the competition. Gentrification, racism, poverty, housing discrimination, disability, teen parenthood, language barriers and lack of access to early childhood education and healthcare are some of the many topics that impact the contestants as well as the community that Riseboro serves.
The RIC (working title, “The RIC – The RiseBoro Impact Competition) focuses on two themes that are increasingly recognized as vitally important to the future of the American economy: entrepreneurship and social impact.
Economically, the United States needs to revitalize entrepreneurship because start-ups drive job creation, and entrepreneurship rates have nearly halved since the ‘70s. Entrepreneurship took a steep plunge during the Great Recession, and start-up rates has been lackluster ever since. This is a problem because while every year firms of all types throughout the economy create and eliminate jobs, it is new firms that generate nearly all net new jobs. Entrepreneurship fills a special role in our economy, and we cannot afford to let it slip.
Furthermore, the United States needs to continue to build an economy that prizes social impact. The trend towards triple-bottom line accounting and the growing concern that corporations are showing for the impact they create beyond financial return is encouraging, but not nearly ubiquitous. Social and environmental impact are not yet dominant market values, although they are imperative to ensure not only our economic but our existential future.
Culturally, these themes have captured the imaginations and hearts of millions of Americans. Entrepreneurship is seen by many as one of the most prestigious occupations one can pursue. In fact, the myth of the rags-to-riches entrepreneur is fundamental to the American Dream. Meanwhile, social impact is increasingly important to professionals and consumers. Arguably, the demand for jobs and goods that create positive social impact is driving the change in values among corporations.
The challenge with both of these areas is that they are often seen as unattainable. Without the backing of generational wealth, trying and failing at starting a business is not an option for many. Entrepreneurship can appear as a distant dream, one that’s reserved for the privileged few. And businesses that produce positive social impact may seem elitist or impossible to create. Stuck between traditional paradigms for nonprofit and for-profit organizations, creative alternatives may never even enter one’s mind as viable endeavors. This prevailing misconception can be damaging because it dissuades people from trying their hand at ambitious new pursuits.
The RIC demystifies entrepreneurship and social impact. It invites the staff of a Bushwick nonprofit to become social impact entrepreneurs. Inexperienced, but passionate and driven, the participants show that the power to re-make one’s own reality is not as far out of reach as they may have originally thought. The hope for a wide distribution of this film is that it will encourage individuals from all types of communities to innovate for sustainability by developing entrepreneurial ventures of their own.
This film project is also the prototype for a TV series. In collaboration with Alejandro Crawford, presenter of the RIC competition and CEO of RebelBase, contestants will be selected from applications submitted on the RebelBase innovation platform. The episodic competition series will focus on conscious capitalism, with a different social / environmental theme each season.
PERKS FOR YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS
Biggest perk - the satisfaction of helping to complete an important film project!
In addition - here is what you will receive for contributing:
$10-$100: Your name in the film credits THANKS
$500 - $1000: Your name in the film credits SPECIAL THANKS
$10,000 - $15,000: Executive Producer credit on the film and IMDB listing
$20,000+ Executive Producer credit / Production services on a short video of your choosing
This giving season, please consider making a contribution. Your gift will help us bring the story of social innovation in Bushwick to the world.
Amy Kalafa, Filmmaker "The RIC"
Learn more about the RIC Competition here: https://www.rebelbase.co/events/13
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