Reel Start raising awareness to give young filmmakers a voice

Who: Reel Start with Fuse Create, Feels Like Home Films (with Tamir Moscovici directing), and post-production partners Rooster, Fort York VFX, Alter Ego and Pirate Audio.

What: “Give New Voices a Voice,” an ad campaign to help raise money and awareness for the student filmmaking charity Reel Start.

When & Where: The campaign debuted today on YouTube and is also being pushed through Instagram and Facebook.

What’s Reel Start? The charity works with schools in Toronto and Los Angeles to help more young people from underrepresented communities find careers in the film industry and possibly change the world through their films.

It was started in 2016 by filmmaker Evan Goldberg and Toronto teacher Adrienne Slover. The pair went to McGill University together, with Goldberg going on to make massive Hollywood films and now TV, including Superbad, Knocked Up, The Disaster Artist and The Boys.

The idea came from conversations the pair had about both cities having large film industries, yet many kids, especially those from underrepresented communities, have no idea how to start a career in film, said Goldberg. “We really just came from a place of everyone should have a chance to enter this industry, and making film and television is influential on the world and it is important to have as many voices in there as possible… It’s just a crime to have these kids be so close to it and yet so far away.”

Reel Start works through two schools in each city to give students training and workshops that introduce them to the filmmaking process, culminating in a yearly short-film production in each city.

Why an ad campaign? Until now the charity has mostly gotten by on Goldberg’s industry connections, but that approach isn’t sustainable, said Fuse Create creative director Patrice Pollack. “There was a lack of awareness and a lack of donations coming in from people outside of [the founders’] networks,” she said. The campaign is intended to raise awareness and money by driving people to a GoFundMe. The $200,000 goal would not only make the program sustainable, but make expansion beyond Toronto and L.A. possible, said Goldberg.  “Ultimately, our vision is to expand to any… film city; so Vancouver, Montreal, Atlanta, New York.”

How: The objective of the ad campaign (which Reel Start students worked on) was not only to show that these young people have potential, but the importance of making their voices heard through the films they help make.

In one of the ads, Gabriel, a young student in the program, is asked what inspired him to make a film. When he answers, his voice is muted so the viewer is unable to hear his story. In another ad, Gabriel explains what filmmaking means to him before he’s asked why his voice matters. He laughs nervously at first, before his smile fades and he pauses to find his answer.

“He so endearingly expresses the exact sentiment, and the exact purpose of our cause,” said Goldberg. “He has a story that he wants to share with the world, and he currently has no direct outlet or any reason to think he was going to have one, and through Reel Start we’ve been able to give him a chance to share his stories with the world.”

That bittersweet moment was different to what Goldberg initially asked for. “Something I said is that they should be very hopeful… But the people at Fuse and [Moscovici] kept saying ‘Yeah, but let us shoot some other stuff that we’ve been thinking about.”

The pause… “That pause he takes is him saying like, ‘Do I deserve it? Am I going to get it done? Is my message going to be heard? Am I going to be able to create this art?’ And we’re gonna do every damn thing to make sure he does,” said Goldberg.

Quote: “If we don’t give new voices a voice, the future of film looks bleak, not just from an industry perspective, but for the world. We want to see new stories, new stories are important,” said Pollack. “And history has shown that storytelling is the thing that leads to meaningful dialogue and change.”

Disclosure: A FuseCreate executive is a financial supporter of The Message.

Financial supporters have no influence or input on editorial decisions.

David Brown