The video was written and directed by Tessa Byford along with Tobias Demi of Prodigium Pictures. “Tobias immigrated from Austria, I was adopted from Peru, and the second partner at Prodigium, Hiroki Kamada, is from Japan,” Tessa wrote in email. “So even though we work in LA, our team has a very international background. I believe that drove the vision of the video.” Tobias kindly answered a few questions about the production.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself and the team behind the video?
We’re part of Prodigium Pictures, a social impact production company in Los Angeles. We produce films and videos that help people better understand the world and foster critical thought. Tessa and myself got involved into OSMS in late March of 2020 in the quest to do something useful during COVID. I focused on keeping track of the global Maker-made PPE tally while Tessa focused her energies on making this video.
We’re both film producers by trade, and spent the last 6 months of 2019 living in a remote farming village in Peru, which taught us a lot about how people all around the world have so much in common.
When Tessa came up with her vision for this video, representation was of primary importance for her. The individual clips were 90% shot by people in far-away places, many of them taking valuable time out of their PPE production days to film what they were doing. We credited all contributing organizations on the www.makebetternow.com website, which also serves as a platform for non-makers to discover efforts in their area and support them.
How did you track down so many different efforts in different countries?
There’s a spreadsheet with more than 100 different people from 20+ countries that we interacted with. We were already part of lots of Facebook Groups when Tessa envisioned this video, and the OSMS local response team (headed by Sabrina Merlo) helped tremendously with finding groups around the globe since OSMS was already actively tracking hundreds of them in 50+ countries.
We spent 2.5 months on making the video, the majority of which was spent on communicating with individual people around the world (we used lots of Google Translate!) and ensuring we would get a true representation of the incredibly diverse maker responses out there – both in terms of people and in terms of technology.
Here’s a little map of the people we talked to and the countries they came from (light grey = unused submissions, green = footage we used)
Do you think this video will lead to a longer video project?
We’ve talked about turning this into a feature-length documentary, especially since we have so much footage already. That project is in an early planning phase and we’re looking into funding options for it; our goal would be to tell individual stories makers in 6 continents and how they dealt with the crisis. There’s an incredible wealth of serendipity in these stories, many of which we heard as part of this research process, so it’s certainly worth a feature-length project if we can get it off the ground.
This was a true labor of love with enormous challenges. We couldn’t have done it without the amazing makers we met along the way.