At Hello Cool World we really are dreamers, and it's a good thing too. We dream of tools for social change, amplification engines for all our visions of alternative futures. The dream is what keeps me going.
There is a story behind every dream. Since I learned to read (such a long time ago), the technology that is the alphabet changed my life forever. But I also had the first massive moment of facing my limits because I had always assumed that once a person learned to read, they simply went on to read all the books. Which is what I set out to do.
The moment when I realized I could never read all the books was devastating. I also discovered there were more languages than I could ever learn. The tower of babble fell on my five-year old self, already drunk on fermented knowledge apples. It was one of my most profound moments, the friction between desire and reality, and I never recovered from learning my personal limits.
Since then I have been obsessed with systems. And collaborations. Things that help people do more than what they can do alone. And which is why, in such a personal way, I fell in love with the possiblities of the internet.
When we began working on The Corporation over a decade ago, our dream was to mobilize a grassroots network that connects audiences to ideas and actions. I remember excited conversations with Mark Achbar, before the film was even in production, about grassroots outreach and the possiblities of email. We were excited about websites and heady over hypertext. It was a time when blogs barely existed, and Facebook and Twitter were years away.
But the people and projects behind the technology were the point all along. What I fell in love with was the power of connecting people. We had a grassroots hit on our hands armed with little more than an email list. As we foraged forward, we built the technological infrastructure to go with it, a centralized platform to create and launch campaigns. We always liked to say that our platform balanced content, technology and outreach.
And I could not have done ANY of this alone. Films take teams of people. So do websites, databases and strategies. What we built in the early days (with the strategic advice of Scott Nelson and the hands-on help of Phillip Djwa, followed by David Griffith, and more recently with Atef Abdelkefi & Sandy Haksi), has been serving us well.
But now, we at Hello Cool World are up against the limits of our old code, and in the face of new frontiers it's time to BOOST our platform to new heights. In a way that will offer the economy of scale to our potential user and investors.
This platform connects all the work we have been doing. We are putting into practice everything we have learned before, during and after the launches of The Corporation and other documentaries The Take, Scared Sacred, and 65_RedRoses, as well as from book projects like Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine and Picturing Transformation, Nexw-áyantsut, the book I am co-writing (with Chief Bill Williams and Nancy Bleck) for the Uts'am Witness Project. We're drawing on our experience with LACE Campaign, promoting cervical cancer awareness, and our many sexual health campaigns and cross-cultural projects, all of which require mobilizing and connecting people around a cause. We're proud of what we've accomplished and if we can scale it up, we believe we can do more good for more people.
Katherine Dodds AKA "Kat" is the founder of Good Company Communications and HelloCoolWorld.com. Trained in renegade advertising & branding through her work with Adbusters in the '90s, Kat's early induction into the possibilities of the web-world was inspired by the term hypertext, which she immediately found comforting. She is dedicated to cause-related communication and to the development and use of tools that promote democratic processes.
Once upon a time, when we were working with Velcrow Ripper to launch Scared Sacred (The first film of his trilogy which is being completed by the new release of Occupy Love), the tag line 'Be part of the story, so the stories get told' emerged in our mass email template for Hello Cool World - it's still there for those of you that are on any of our 'lists'. It proved to be prophetic, as the entire marketing world has not only cottoned on to 'story telling' as the hot new buzzword (oh but it's actually ancient) for all the cool young campaigns.
But it's true, story has a power that moves people more than moralizing or rational arguments alone. But when a story well told, with emotional appeal, is backed up with both compelling facts and a call to action - it's heart, mind, and world changing. And of course this is what the best of documentaries do with the added audio visual vocabulary to bring to the proverbial table.
Which is why we've taken a documentary storytelling (and discovery) approach to all our projects, even the ad campaigns!
I INTERRUPT THIS BLOG TO SHAMELESSLY PROMOTE FOUR FINE FILMS COMING TO VIFF!
(Listed here in screening order.) I've already got my tickets to the following films, made by fine filmmakers who are friends and colleagues. If you are in Vancouver get your tickets now!
1. The Last White Knight • Dir. Paul Saltzman (Prom Night in Mississippi) • Premieres Sept 29, 8:45pm Empire Granville 4
2. Occupy Love • Dir. Velcrow Ripper (Scared Sacred, Fierce Light) • Premieres Oct 4, 9pm Empire Granville 1
3. Shadows of Liberty • Dir. Jean-Philippe Tremblay • Premieres Oct 5, 3:20 p, Empire Granville 5
4. Blood Relative• Dir. Nimisha Mukerji (65_RedRoses) • Premieres Oct 6, 6:45pm Empire Granville 2
Our ongoing work on The Corporation has been a calling card, but that project is by no means over for me. I am still balancing my desire to truly have an impact on the corporate form itself, and to build a movement out of the consistently growing numbers of supporters who contact us. As happens at this time every year I have had a lot of filmmakers who are also fans of The Corporation inquiring about working with us.
This blog began as a letter to one of these filmmakers, and as it turned into a manifesto of sorts I decided to blog-i-fy it for all to read. This season, this contemplation is being tempered with the need to create a real live business plan for growth as part of the VanCity Women Entrepreneurs program I was accepted into. Currently, I am getting support to work on this growth plan and will be give the opportunity to pitch it to potential lenders and investors.
As happens every time more filmmakers want us to take on their projects I do a lot of soul searching about what exactly we did for films before, and what I can realistically do for them. I've been backward engineering the successes and challenges fo the work with The Corporation...
The Corporation has been a project now for me, for over a decade. I was involved with The Corporation before it was even in production, and my role was far more than that of someone brought in after the fact. My roles were as producer and creative director of the website, and Creative director for the branding (we created the signature logo) plus "Director of Corporate Communication" - an ironic title reflective of my role not as a publicist but as the producer/director of the entire grassroots outreach.
All efforts were centred around having the website as our communications hub and tool. With Mark Achbar's help I raised 100K for the website and leveraged 100K more from distribtuors in four countries, who collectively spent a million in advertising all directing traffic to our website, which continues to have a significant amount of traffic ten years later. In essence, a campaign needs to be produced and directed, and the resources required, as well as the timeline are much the same as making a film!
Want some of our cool stuff in time for holiday gifting? Vancouverites can c'mon down to our holiday storefront. SUNDAY 2- 6 pm and all week long noon - 6pm.
We have 65_RedRoses shirts, pendants and art cards, new Corporation merch and Raw Opium Poster and shirts. Plus all our usual DVDs and Joel Bakan's new book Childhood Under Seige. ALl our sales support our campaigns!
Visit us at 525 Carrall Street Monday to Saturday 12pm-6pm, and Sunday, 2pm-6pm. Can't make it during those hours? Call us to make an appointment: 604-251-5567.
Come find COOL fairer trade and social justice stuff just in time for Christmas! (or #OccupyXmas as we are fondly tweeting!)
New 65_RedRoses and The Corporation merchandise just in!
You can check out what we have for sale on our Webstore, but c'mon down in person if you are in Vancouver! Pictures below!
David Ng is a Hello Cool World veteran with experience going back a decade. David first worked with us when he was just 14 years old as a participant in the youth advisory group for the sexual health education program Condomania. Now an accomplished videographer passionate about the issues of gender and power, he is currently on sabbatical in South Africa while he pursues a Masters in Gender Studies with a focus on international development.
Join the Hello Cool World outreach team at the Ridge Theatre tonight (Wed, April 27) from 7pm-9pm for a special 65_RedRoses screening. We'll be there with our cameras taking photos paparazzi-style, interviewing guests for our blog and promoting the #4Eva Movement For Organ Donation.
Thank you to everyone who entered DOCspace's DVD Giveaway contest. They received a huge response and were happy to award 3 lucky winners (one in Vancouver, one in Whitehose, one in Toronto) a copy of 65_RedRoses. We're very encouraged to hear about the vast amounts of support for the film and cause. Stay tuned for more news on the #4Eva Movement for Organ Donation coming soon...
Bella is the newest addition to Hello Cool World, enlisting for the cause at the end of 2010. A graduate of BCIT's Broadcast Communications for TV program, she's worked in all aspects of production and has a knack for new media & technology.