- Friday, Feb. 20, 2015
Two new short films from design and integrated production studio Thornberg & Forester that take a fresh approach to humanitarian aid have debuted on behalf of client World Food Program USA. The films are the latest phase in a nearly two-year initiative by the studio to enhance the organization’s brand and drive donations from corporations and individuals.
World Food Program USA (http://wfpusa.org) is the Washington, DC-based non-profit organization that builds support and resources for the United nations’ World Food Programme, the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security. On average, WFP provides food to more than 80 million people annually, including 58 million children, in more than 75 countries. In addition to school meals and nutrition programs, WFP is also the emergency first responder to emergencies around the world, providing immediate relief in areas struck by natural disasters and civil conflict.
Scott Matz, founder and executive creative director, Thornberg & Forester, spent a week in Tanzania last October, crisscrossing the country by small plane and convoy to shoot homes, hospitals, schools and markets in a range of remote villages. He was accompanied by a small crew that included noted philanthropic filmmaker Jonathan Olinger, founder of NY-based media company HUMAN (http://thehumanstory.com), who co-directed the films with Matz.
Thornberg & Forester wrote, co-directed, produced and edited the films. One looks at a specific WFP initiative, and the other focuses on the organizational brand as a whole.
“First Things First” (http://vimeo.com/tandf/first-things-first) is a film about WFP’s “First 1,000 Days” program, providing mothers and babies with the right nutrition for a healthy start from pregnancy through the child’s second birthday. The two-minute film explains how nutrition is critical during that timeframe in shaping a child’s life, often meaning the difference between a promising future and one plagued by poor health and stunted growth. It also highlights how WFP reaches four million children under the age of two and three million women across the globe with special nutritional support through the program.
“Delivering Hope One Meal at a Time” (https://vimeo.com/tandf/delivering-hope) is a positioning brand film, explaining WFP’s mission, spirit and ethos while delivering factual information about scope, activities and accomplishments in a resonant and emotive way.
Thornberg & Forester started working with WFP USA in March 2013. The first phase included refreshing the brand and developing two logo systems for specific initiatives, designing a full stationary system, print collateral, presentation deck templates, POP display concepts.
The second phase of the effort involved creation of three films for use on the WFP USA website and via other promotional purposes. The film strategy was to tell the WFP USA story in a new and impactful way by designing positive, fact-based messages as opposed to the more common approach used by relief programs that primarily focus on hardships.
“We wanted the brand to reflect inspirational, uplifting positive messages about ‘doing good’ that transcend a specific country or program,” said Matz. “The films depict the story of hope, dreams and opportunities made possible through the assistance of WFP.”
“The goal of the films is share the incredible, everyday success stories of WFP’s work in the field feeding hungry families in need,” said M.J. Altman, senior content manager, WFP USA. “Ultimately, we want business leaders, lawmakers and individuals in the U.S. to understand the power and scope of these life-saving operations.”
The team used two cameras, a hand-held rig and a drone mounted with a high-speed GoPro. Prior to traveling to Tanzania, Matz and Olinger decided to bring only a couple of reflectors for lighting gear. This decision informed the timing and locations of shoots, since natural daylight was essential. WFP personnel in the field identified locations that matched the directors’ wish list, but a great deal of real-time scouting was also needed.
“Every stop was a new experience, so there was a degree of uncertainty about what we’d find when we reached a destination,” said Matz. “At each stop, we were greeted upon arrival by several village elders and officials, and some of those greetings were more lengthy than others. This resulted in us having to make compromises and work in a nimble way, shooting strategically to maximize our limited time with natural light.”
One moving moment of the trip was the crew’s visit to the district of Ikungi, in Tanzania’s Singida region. Arriving almost two hours later than expected, the team was greeted in a grade school courtyard by nearly 1,000 uniformed schoolchildren who, despite speaking no English, managed to sing a 15-minute song with lyrics “welcome, welcome our visitors/happy to see you” while also joyfully dancing in unison and filled with the brightest smiles imaginable.
Matz and Olinger were accompanied on the shoot in Tanzania by Rickie Norris, director of photography and drone pilot, photographer Mackenzie Rollins and WFP USA’s Altman. Film scripts were crafted by writer Todd Feitlin.
“From script writing to post-production, the team at Thornberg & Forester bring an incredible wealth of experience and expertise to the storytelling process,” said Altman. “Theirs is a truly creative, collaborative approach.”
On a more personal level, Altman said she really enjoyed working with Matz on this project. “Watching Scott interact with families in Tanzania — playing soccer with a group of school kids, joking with young mothers at a health clinic — revealed the sense of humanity and humor that he brings to his work.”
Matz credits Ron Fricke’s renowned 1992 documentary “Baraka” as an inspiration for the WFP USA films, using storytelling through the eyes of people in the moment to explain who we are as a people. “ ‘Baraka’ is a beautiful harmony of images, offering a very real, compelling look at life communicated through natural events and human activity across 26 countries. That approach to real, inspirational storytelling and bridging of cultures was a strong influence in our WFP work.”
In its time working with WFP USA, Thornberg & Forester has also created a pro-bono film to help raise funds for relief in the Philippines after super typhoon Haiyan and “Potential” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iiLM5VT3hc), released in 2013 to promote WFP’s School Meals program.
About Thornberg & Forester
Founded in 2007, Thornberg & Forester (http://www.thornbergandforester.com) has designed and produced award-winning work for brands ranging from innovative start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. From copywriting and design to hosting a roster of talented directors, its digital production studio offers complete turn-key solutions to make great ideas happen. The studio employs a highly collaborative process that yields both a great product and a rewarding, memorable experience.