Volunteering Our Media Skills

Volunteering Our Media Skills

When we are volunteering to film a project for a worthwhile cause or charity, it’s critical that we excel at our job as filmmakers. If we are able, we should go above and beyond every call.

Let’s imagine a charity dedicated to caring for orphans, feeding the homeless, providing free medical care, or tending to the rights of animals. They may not have the money to go out and produce high quality Hollywood style content, This is especially critical in cities where there may not be a lot of productions going on, so there’s a shortage of production labor and talent. They finally find someone who’s willing to do it as a donation; but, they end up with a low quality production because the filmmaker didn’t put the time and effort in it. 

Therefore, the people who most need to advertise with media end up with poor or dated material. If we really want to improve our world, and do real and long-lasting good works, then we should volunteer at least once in our careers to do a great job on a charity’s video presentation. The rewards may be more than just heavenly. They may have a definite, concrete earthly presence as well.

Setting aside the psychological benefits of volunteering and doing good, there’s the technical/business side of the coin. We reap great returns in perfecting our trade while plying it in a low-pressure environment, free to make mistakes and correct them without suffering financial losses. There’s the freedom to experiment with the digital medium, in ways difficult to do when a producer is tapping a watch, and a production crew is costing $5000/hr.

There are also the amazing friendships made on a battlefield of giving and loving those who are defenseless and weak. There’s much to be said for volunteering for our local soup kitchen, not just in a service capacity, but in asking, “Hey I was wondering if you guys would like me to shoot some footage of your amazing work here. I could put it together into a nice little video with music and titles, and have it ready for you to post to your website. Maybe it’ll get you some donations.”

After they recover from the shock, they’ll say, “Are you serious?” and we’ll reply, “Yes, of course!”, and they’ll say, “But we can’t pay you!” And whereupon we’ll say, “It’s cool. I believe in what you’re doing, and I love doing what I do.”

Slam dunk! We’re in line for something good to come into our lives, as we honor this commitment and take it all the way home. We can go right down line, even asking if they need editing changes, or transcoding to a more video hosting-friendly format.

In review, volunteering our media talent is a great way to:

1) Get back emotional and psychological benefits.
2) Perfect our technical skills in a low-pressure environment.
3) Make mistakes don’t cost money. We learn from the correction.
4) Experiment further with the digital medium. We can take bigger risks.
5) Create long lasting battle-tested business friendships. These can yield great financial returns.

Are there other benefits to volunteering our media skills? Are there negatives? Do the positives outweigh the negatives, or is it a losing battle? What are some other ways skilled filmmakers can serve the community and improve the world?

Here are some samples of videos that Digital Cinema Training has filmed for Journey Film Group, a company that specializes in making PSA about human trafficking:

~ Digital Cinema Training Staff 

— at Digital Cinema Training.

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