PSFK talks to filmmaker Simon Robinson about his unique collaborative film project.
The three-day OFFF festival showcases top digital artists, web, print and interactive designers, motion graphics studios, musicians, and more. PSFK was at OFFF Paris recently, and had the opportunity to ask Simon Robinson (aka Knife Party) some questions about the collaborative film project he started, which stitched together the works of many talented film-makers who were willing to contribute to raise awareness of the environment. The movie he screened, Coalition Of The Willing, is made up of 30 different segments, including 6 of which Simon created.
How did your project come about?
“When I was in Sydney, I had some ideas about the project, based on some advertising I saw and how it thought that if a Jeep sells to people with the basis of having fun, then [the existing] environmental messaging was not working. At that point I started thinking about what environmental film might look like, and in Sydney I met the writer Tim Reiner, because my wife was doing an evening course in Philosophy for Change, and that’s what Tim was teaching and so we met and struck up a relationship and started to make it work – that was in June 2008, so about 2 years ago.”
As you mentioned, this project was a collaboration between many different groups worldwide – can you tell me some of the challenges you faced in making this film and where were all the partners in this film are from?
“A lot in NY, a lot in Portland, Sydney, Germany and London.”
“We had no budget – that was the biggest challenge; it was just getting people involved. I guess the project was all about timing – because even though we had a staggered release – we released sections of the film onto our website over a 4 month period. I really had to become a producer and hassle people to finish their sections. I’m a director, really and not a producer, and I had to become a producer – that was tough.”
“Natural producers are organized and I’m very messy. That was the biggest challenge for me – to coordinate everything.”
Can you talk about the impact of social media on your film?
“When we set up the site, we thought we could generate an online community on a forum on the site. If we set it up people will comment – but now that’s dead, I think. Now people communicate in an ephemeral way on Facebook and Twitter. Luckily we liked our site into Facebook and Twitter and just started watching the numbers go up.”
“As we started posting sections of the film and maDE people aware of it, the numbers kept going up and up, and now basically it’s turned into a brand – we are now posting 3 or 4 times a day on environmental and open source development news. We are basically an open source environmentalism site. It took us a while to understand this, but when we did understand, by talking about other environmental news we could bring more people in who would then look into the film. I’m always posting articles – posting about the BP disaster, for example.”