Poverty & electricity: Turning the lights on in Buena Vista, Guatemala | Not for profit video production
This story I told for Michigan’s Electric Coop Association (MECA) is one of my favorites in recent memory. Of all my travels to developing countries I’ve produced stories around famine, drought, HIV/AIDS, poverty, and community development to name a few. But, I’ve never focused on electricity and how it can help be a part of the solution in all of the above issues. This project came from a referral from my client at National Rural Electric Coop Assoc (NRECA). My client at MECA saw my past projects for NRECA and said they my mix of artistry, narrative storytelling, and the authenticity of the messaging were a perfect fit for them.
I collaborated with my client to produce a narrative story arc that was aligned with the important messages about the volunteer linemen from Mich. going to Guatemala to bring power to this remote area. I believe that the why questions in life are more important than the how questions in life. I approach storytelling in the same way. For this story, the why–shortened life expectancy, lack of enterprise that keeps them in poverty–informs every part of this effort to send 10 people on a two-week 1000 mile journey. The how is the work that the linemen are doing. But that doesn’t really matter until we explore the why and invest people in this why. After that I lead people through the how and the what. So, that is the story I pre-produced with my client and the we lined up to speak share their story through our fixer in Guatemala.
At one point during pre-production, my client found out that she would also need some storytelling photos for various internal and external publications. My background is in photojournalism, and producing both video and photo stories simultaneously for USA TODAY, so naturally this was not a problem. My client saw the value in hiring only one person who could do both at a high level and who also knew how to align both mediums with their brand and messaging. All in all I was in the village of Buena Vista for 48 very wet hours.
After we were done with revisions, my client told me this video was better than anything they could have imagined. They leveraged the photo assets for a photo book, blog entries, magazines, and more. Anyhow, enough words. Watch the video, enjoy the photos, and go do something selfless today.