“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will”. So said Frederick Douglass, the
African-American social reformer, in a speech he made in 1857.
Over the course of history, change has unusually come from the generosity of the political elite; it invariably comes from people organizing from below. There is a great tradition in America of people coming together to fight for social justice and human rights but most mainstream news channels have airbrushed these movements almost out of existence. However one new series is on a mission to uncover some inspiring stories of personal struggles and success across the world: The Global Activist.
Award-winning journalist Ben Swann and Jasmine Monroig are looking for funding on Indiegogo to produce a pilot with the hope of establishing a new series. Their videos are currently hitting 3.5 million views a month and a recent partnership means that there could soon be an audience of hundreds of millions of people on AOL and Huffington Post.
The reporters reached their target of $50,000 in under 60 days to create a single pilot. They have raised a total of $52,219 USD. This has kickstarted their project and demonstrated to streaming networks the strong grassroots interest. Ultimately with continuing interest and investment, Ben and Jasmine will be able to produce content that has the potential of securing mass distribution (i.e Netflix, Hulu, HBO).
International stories of corruption, discrimination, police brutality and threats to democracy were all featured in The Global Activist’s pitch. Just a few examples: They hope to uncover illegal banking practices that have led to convictions at three of Iceland’s biggest banks. They’ll tell the story behind the campaign against violence toward black people, Black Lives Matter (BLM) that received international recognition in 2014, following the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York. And the rise of the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong whereby a series of sit-in protests began after the restrictive decision was made to pre-screen candidates for the Hong Kong Chief Executive election in 2017 before being presented to the electorate.
The “Perks” for donating to the series start from high quality episodes available to download the day before release for a mere $5 to getting an Executive Producer credit and opportunity to sit in a production meeting for $5000.
According to Ben Swann creation costs have been cut to one-sixth (⅙) of what a network would create the same show for.
Here’s how they worked out the budget:
• $35,000 production (director, photojournalists, editors, sound engineers, pre-production, post-production, colorists, graphic editors, design, hosting, equipment)
• $3,000 local show producer
• $3,000 show runner
• $7,000 travel
• $2,000 web and social
This is independent journalism at its best: giving voice to the groups and movements that are otherwise marginalized in the media. It will be a challenge for The Global Activist to secure their hopes of distribution but to quote Frederick Douglass again: “Without a struggle, there can be no progress.”