How journalist and filmmaker Carmela Baranowska makes it matter
How do you give it mouth?
I’m the founder of We Are Moving Stories, an online platform that embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, web series and music video.
We publish profiles of filmmakers and films and connect them to producers, sales agents, distributors, buyers and audiences. We proudly support and encourage 50%+ women’s participation on our platform.
I love names that are more than one word long! We Are Moving Stories is a play on the word ‘moving’ so we help ‘move’ or break through a film that nobody’s heard about before and then these films are also ‘moving’ you emotionally.
Why is affect such a vital aspect of a message?
Interesting questions! As we are an online platform You also need to consider the issue of network effects – they’re a little bit dated now but Manuel Castells’ theories are good on all of these points. Perhaps it’s a discussion for our next interview!
What moves you?
Ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Give me a snapshot of what kinds of content I will find at We Are Moving Stories
There’s so much content out there!
So, while we can categorise films according to subject headings – including by film festivals, nationality, genre (horror, sci-fi, romance, melodrama, action, thriller) LGBTQ, Indigenous – there’s also animation, documentary, drama and now web series which can incorporate all of the above subject matter. The real challenge is not only to organise the content but to make it compelling to an audience.
There are many award-winning feature films directed by women we’ve profiled that I wish would be seen more widely at international film festivals. These include Suicide Kale directed by Carly Usdin (US), Five Nights in Maine directed by Maris Curran (US), Those Left Behind Directed by Maria Finitzo (US), American Fable Directed by Anne Hamilton (US), Good Enough directed by AnnaRose King (US) The Weatherman’s Umbrella directed by Anne Richey (Australia) and The Bird Watcher directed by Siobhan Devine (Canada). Many of these films also have many crew roles filled by women and this is a trend that will only continue to grow.
Many filmmakers including Kerry Drumm, Katrina Mathers (Tanked), Alexandra Billington (Geography of the Heart) Annabel Graham (The Ravine) Blair Skinner (Eleanora, the Forgotten Princess) Jenna Gelenberg (Snip) Holly Hargreaves (Real Tinder Convos) Darine Hotait (I Say Dust) Alejandra Carmen Díaz (Seven Questions About Being Twenty-Seven) Genna Chanelle Hayes (Wurinyan) Alex Burunova (Pale Blue) Kate Rees Davies (Aberration) and Angelita Mendoza & Victor Capiz (The Darkest Black) are using their shorts as proof of concept for longer work.
We also have many films that are real ‘passion projects’ and that exhibit a long term commitment by the filmmakers: here I’d like to mention the work of Jon Staley and Kelly West (Brown Paper Bag) and Andrew Garton (Ocean in a Drop, Higher ground, Forged From Fire). Of course, all these filmmakers can be found on our platform.
We’re starting to deal with the challenge of so much content by partnering with ACMI X as Industry Members to move the platform to real life events as well as its online component. Watch this space!
What social media platforms have been the most useful in promoting your work?
Facebook! We launched with twenty profiles in April this year and now in August 2016 we have over 400 profiles and nearly 60,000 page views. It’s been almost exclusively organic growth – relying on social media virality. You can find our filmmakers in Australia, the US, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Israel, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain and Russia.
What’s one of the biggest challenges faced by filmmakers?
There are two huge challenges. Firstly, the lack of women in key roles in film and TV, including director, screenwriter, producer and cinematographer are astounding. It’s now been well publicised but unlike the tech industry change is much slower.
At We Are Moving Stories we aim to make a positive contribution. We continue to profile more women than men for a simple reason: we want to make it easier for women’s films to be found online. Earlier in the year I heard Lindsay Crouse from the New York Times Op-Docs bemoan the lack of women filmmakers on its platform. Our response would be: look no further than We Are Moving Stories for your inspiration.
Secondly, there’s a real need to investigate ways for filmmakers to monetise their work in a way that is innovative and beneficial to all. Rest assured, we’re working hard to address both these challenges.
You’ve been journalist, academic and filmmaker. What role does creativity play in each of these forms of story making? In what ways is the creativity they require different?
I’ve often been in different environments (be they third world countries, war zones or universities) and built things from the ground up, be they films, university courses and now, a start-up.
I’m a strong believer in research but ultimately, when you’re in a new place or job, it’s best to put aside everything you’ve read, look around and start from where you are now.
Are you spontaneous and chaotic in your work? Or do you prefer method and order?
When you publish profiles every day of the year you need to have a certain degree of method and order; at the same time in the world of journalism you need to make allowances for the spontaneous. If there’s a ‘moving’ or breaking story you need to cover it now (and not in three day’s time!)
In May 2016 we were able to broadcast an exclusive video from West Papua. In a series of peaceful demonstrations 2000 people had been arrested across the Indonesian province. We Are Moving Stories broadcast the video within a few hours of the demonstrations taking place – that’s what I mean by spontaneous!
How did it feel to win a Walkley? Can you recount the moment you were told you’d won?
There’s the first part of this story which is when I won a Rory Peck Award a couple of years earlier for my work in East Timor. I was in London at the award ceremony and a member of the British aristocracy tipped me off that I had won.
The Walkleys are definitely not like that. It was a great moment, an acknowledgement of all the hard work and perseverance you need to make a film.
How did your time living and working in difficult and challenging conflict zones change your work? Did you learn any important lessons about collaboration and negotiation?
I started when I was 23 years old so in a way I grew up doing that work.
At heart, I’m a journalist and I always like being around other journalists and learning from them. I also filmed some pretty amazing events, including the last six months of the Indonesian occupation of East Timor in 1999 and I saw people at their worst and more importantly, at their best.
The world has changed so much in the last few years and honestly, it’s become a far more dangerous place. I’m unsure if many people are still doing what I once did – but I’m very happy when I discover them!
What are your top three tips for founders of online businesses like We Are Moving Stories.
1. Find a good mentor;
2. Wake up earlier;
3.‘Focus on the road, not the wall.’ Ben Horowitz – The Hard Thing About Hard Things.
See more of Carmella’s work here.