The week is only half over and I can already say it has been one of the best weeks of the year for me. I had the chance to spend the last two days with a small group of very smart and motivated people talking about how the documentary film business is evolving and to think out loud about how films could be used to change the world.
As we wrapped up yesterday afternoon, many of the participants somewhat sheepishly mentioned to me that they didn’t feel like they contributed as much as they got back. I say sheepishly because the people involved are not ones to shy away from contributing. This leads me to think about how collective impact (outside of the not for profit world this is sometimes called collective action) works and how systems can be created where each participant does not feel overwhelmed or over taxed, but everyone together accomplishes great things.
Fortunate people have been on small teams that work together well and make great things happen with a level of effort that may be great but never seems painful. In my experience, those groups have been small. What would happen if that same ease of working together, trendier people would use the word “synergy” here, could be expanded to thousands or even millions of people? If this could happen, we just might be able to change the world.
We have some pretty big problems to face and it is going to take something like this to stare them down. No matter your political stripes, pollution, population, healthcare and wealth distribution are some big issues that are influenced by extremely complex systems. What if each of us only needs to do one little thing, but by working together could change things dramatically?
A recently study reported that 75% of people that watched the movie “Food Inc.” changed their eating behavior. Films just might be a big part of building a system that would reverse some of the unbelievably bad trends we see today.
The dark side of collective action is already at work ensuring that our appetite for fuel and french fries always increases. We live in a system -- and I think we can change it. We can be part of a world where the result of our collective action is greater than the sum of our individual contributions.
Stay tuned for more of this thinking. Until then, check out these films: