"The Endangered Generation?"
10 October 2023
The process of creating the feature-length documentary "The Endangered Generation?" unfolded as a seamless and exemplary Brand Storytelling case study.
Here's a breakdown of how every element fell into place, resulting in a resounding success:
VMLY&R Melbourne and Monash University had a vision; to make a feature-length documentary as part of their advertising campaign. The focal point? The provocative question of whether humans, as a species, face endangerment, confronting issues spanning health, habitat, freedom, and rights. VMLY&R had no prior experience in Brand storytelling and only an initial seed idea for the feature film, so they were looking for a partner who could bring guidance and experience to the brand, to produce a Brand Funded Film. Enter Sweetshop Green.
The seed idea from VMLY&R:
Monash University will put humans born from 2020 on the endangered species list. This film highlights what’s at stake unless we all take action now to change it
The mandate came with a checklist that demanded nothing less than global recognition:
Elevate Monash University's reputation on a global scale
Be topical and globally relevant
Illuminate global research and solutions from Monash University and renowned experts
Uncover the truth, unfiltered
Create a buzz and demand attention
Embrace Monash University's bold, unapologetic, and edgy tone
THE OPPORTUNITY & CHALLENGE
In "The Endangered Generation?" lay the extraordinary opportunity to craft a documentary with global impact, enlightening the minds of millions and gaining recognition at the highest echelons of the creative and academic spheres.
However, the challenge loomed large—the documentary arena is fiercely competitive, a difficult truth to learn as a filmmaker is what is ‘important’, ‘good’ or ‘necessary’ doesn’t always matter. However, the key is in finding a way to make audiences care about what is important and urgent. The most powerful documentaries are those that are crafted with a level of storytelling that entertains.
The most powerful documentaries are those that are crafted with a level of storytelling that entertains.
The journey began with Monash University and VMLY&R partnering with Sweetshop Green. Sweetshop Green brought their team to expand the seed idea into a feature length script, while nurturing a collaborative bond with Monash University and VMLY&R. Monash University's access to global climate scientists added depth and authenticity to the project and enabled Sweetshop Green a constant source of critical information to allow us the ability to confidently tell a factual story. The crafting of the story beats and ensuring the project's depth and accuracy, became a collective effort.
Once the idea was fully scripted and a director chosen, Sweetshop Green were able to enter the development stage, and secure the best investors, sales, and distribution package through their trusted partners.
FINDING THE DIRECTOR
Choosing the director is key to the project’s success. The more ownership the director feels they have in the project, the better the result will be. The director will open the doors to distributors, broadcasters and ultimately audience.
It was important that the director was Australian to help secure the funding. Australian filmmaker Celeste Greer was chosen for her impressive track record of multi-award-winning documentaries and her unwavering passion for this project. Her films celebrate resilience under pressure, uncovering raw moments of courage and beauty in the unlikeliest places. Her vision was exactly what was needed.
THE NARRATOR: LAURA DERN
How did Laura Dern become part of the narrative?
The idea of a famous voice was a game-changer, not just for funding but for securing the project's place in the limelight. The personal connections of Sweetshop Green proved instrumental. In Laura's private life, her advocacy for women's rights and environmental protection aligned perfectly with the project's values.
While Monash University initially planned to fully fund the film, Sweetshop Green leveraged their connections to secure additional funding from broadcasters. This partnership created a 50/50 funding arrangement with Monash University, effectively doubling the project's budget. Balancing content and branding became essential for success, ensuring a harmonious blend of message and commercial viability.
Maintaining a delicate balance of content is essential in projects for funding, as broadcasters typically avoid content with overt branding, props or a commercial sales tone. To address this, clear and mutually agreed-upon contractual terms are established upfront to safeguard the interests of both the advertiser and funding bodies, ensuring control and compliance with content guidelines while protecting the creative integrity of the project.
Early partners and funding bodies that Sweetshop Green brought to the table included Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF), Screen Australia, and Film Victoria. Additionally, two sales agents, Bonsai Films for local distribution in Australia and Off The Fence for international sales, were instrumental in the project's development and distribution of the film.
THE END RESULT
The journey reached its crescendo with premieres at prestigious international film festivals. São Paulo International Film Festival, Melbourne International Film festival 2022 (Melbourne, Australia), Human Rights Arts & Film festival 2023 (Melbourne, Australia, )Doc Edge Festival 2023 (Auckland, New Zealand), Capricorn Film festival 2023 (Queensland Australia),
The film has been launched on Docplay, and will be available on Binge/Foxtel, iTunes and other VOD platforms. SBS intends to align its release with Earth Day, ensuring a lasting impact. The film is also available on all Qantas flights over 90 min
Prestigiously "The Endangered Generation?" clinched the "Best in Show" Brand Experience award at the Melbourne Art Directors Awards.
Monash University's bold move paid off. "The Endangered Generation?" generated a staggering 48,990 enrolment leads, elevating the university 13 places into the top 50 Universities worldwide in just a year.
"The Endangered Generation?" is a powerful journey of hope and connection narrated by the iconic Laura Dern. The film takes us on a global expedition alongside intrepid scientists, activists, artists, and First Nations leaders. Through their research and experiences, they reveal the transformative potential of diversity, collaboration, and creativity in addressing the urgent global challenges that threaten our very existence. "The Endangered Generation?" breaks barriers and inspires fresh perspectives on the crises that define our planet. It's a surprising, uplifting exploration of our place in the world.
Sweetshop Green's expertise in film-making, funding, rebates, and early investor engagement played a pivotal role in the film's success and widespread distribution. "The Endangered Generation?" stands as a beacon of brand storytelling excellence, beckoning audiences to join the quest for change, enlightenment, and salvation. It's a testament to the power of collaboration, creativity, and the indomitable human spirit.