BITTER SWEET CHARITY

Although as debutants we were taught never to discuss politics at the table, we thought that, what with another round of cuts coming to finally topple society’s reckless and menacing poor, needy and disabled, now was a good time for some red talk. Seeing as Britain is currently being run by a bunch of chinless, cousin-bothering Tory aliens, charities are taking a bigger role than ever in picking up the slack of governmental shortfalls.

Whilst there are obvious moral questions raised by this state of affairs (little pun there) the fact remains that in order for certain groups in-need to go un-neglected, the charities that help to support them need a greater visibility than ever.

Making films for charities is a weird one. Beset as it is, on all sides by moral quagmires and soul-searching conundrums. On the one hand, charities need visibility and marketing more than anyone, and rightly so; people need to be aware of these organisations’ existence more so than they need to be aware of the latest pop-up colonic bar, sushi bordello or eyebrow extension wagon. On the other hand, there is the argument that any money a charity spends should be spent on those they help, rather than on fancy marketing campaigns. Look at how much people hate chuggers; those happy freaks that stop you in the street and act like they fancy you until you give them your bank details. People really resent that the money they donate to a charity goes towards paying these people’s wages rather than directly helping their chosen demographic. However, without those irritating and slightly unhinged friendly people, the charity would be generating less revenue and helping less people in need, and the same goes for any marketing they invest in.

The world being what it is; a snakes’ nest of conflicting interests, it is easy to get bogged down in the ifs buts and whys of charity marketing. However after working with the Prince’s Trust for 12 weeks making “One good turn” a documentary about the impact the charity has on the lives of the young people it helps, it was hard to ignore the impression the film made at a recent fundraising event. Seeing the recorded evidence of the good work that their donations were making spurred people into unprecedented generosity. Witnessing the fruits of their donations worked in a way that, knowing at the back of your mind that you might be helping some face-less stranger with your donation, just doesn’t quite do.

Princes Trust / One Good Turn from Maker Projects on Vimeo.

Of course not all charity films work in this way. Just as brands can throw away thousands on counter-productive advertising campaigns (Have you SEEN the toe-curling new Andrex ad?!) so too can charities spend their much needed donations on marketing that just doesn’t cut the mustard.

We think when it comes to charity films you need to make them simple, parred-down and honest. Throwing money around on fancy, high-flown concepts that may or may not work is gambling with a much needed budget; whereas geuninely expressing what it is that you do and who it helps speaks for itself.