"The Most Urgent Filmmaking"
  • Friday, Jun. 12, 2020
People take part in a Black Lives Matter protest in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Monday, June 1, 2020, to protest against the recent killing of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis, U.S.A., after being restrained by police officers on Memorial Day. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Last week in The New York Times, critic-at-large Wesley Morris wrote that “THE MOST URGENT FILMMAKING anybody’s doing in this country right now is by black people with camera phones.” These citizens chronicle utter tragedy and social injustice--including the death of George Floyd, 46, while in the custody of Minneapolis police. Morris observed that these bystander videos capture “the stone truth” and that “art is not the intent.” They serve as proof of racism which has angered--and showed signs of mobilizing--the world, getting people to ask themselves what can they do to help stop the madness.

Which leads us in turn to our community--filmmakers spanning the ranks of entertainment and advertising. What can the pros behind and in front of the camera do in response to the stark realities captured by “nonprofessional” videographers? What role can film, messaging and communication play in bettering society?

In this week’s feature on how the industry is trying to recover from the pandemic, grappling with how to best resume production and post to some semblance of what had been normal, we find that how to best respond to another plague--that of racism--has also been prominent in the thoughts of entertainment and advertising creatives and artisans. 

Responses thus far have ranged from the symbolic to raising money for Black Lives Matter and other organizations, with one brand, Ben & Jerry’s, putting forth a four-step proposal to meaningfully address what it perceives as “inhumane police brutality that is perpetuated by a culture of white supremacy.” Whether you agree with them or not, increasingly it’s become evident that standing for something, doing good, being proactively involved represent much needed currency for brands if they are to meaningfully connect with people. What does your brand stand for? Numerous studies have found that consumers are drawn to brands that help drive positive social change. They expect such advocacy from the brands they trust. But more importantly, we should expect such advocacy from ourselves and others in everyday life.

In the wake of Floyd’s death, AT&T-owned Warner Media’s brands changed their handles to #BlackLivesMatter and all posted the same James Baldwin quote: “Neither love nor terror makes one blind: indifference makes one blind.”

Robert Goldrich is an editor at SHOOT and

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