Volunteer Nation - an original mixed media series

Eight years ago this week, I was deep, DEEP in the weeds of an original documentary project. Friend and filmmaker Dan Janos and I had embarked on a powerful idea: let's shine a light, direct our cameras, point our microphones toward the positive actions millions of Americans take every week through volunteering. We co-created Volunteer Nation, a mixed media series featuring social innovators, the organizations they created, and the volunteers that serve. (How's that for a catchy tagline?)

Video production spanned from New Orleans, LA to Traverse City, MI to San Francisco, CA to create our series trailer and pilot episode:

Due to timing of our series launch and in an effort to capitalize on the rabid political environment of the 2008 Presidential campaign, we actually produced our pilot episode, Super Tuesday Turnout, on spec (ie, self-funded) before creating this trailer. As we explain in the pilot's opening sequence, we explored a small window time before, during, and after 2008's Super Tuesday. As you'll see we featured the two active campaigns in our home town of San Francisco - Barack Obama's and Hillary Clinton's.

In the spirit of a true mixed media project, we also incorporate professional photography and infographics in the episode - part of the multimedia we championed when pitching the show to potential funders and networks. In addition, Dan and I were and remain tremendous fans, listeners, and supporters of NPR and their local affiliates. In the spirit of a classic hosted interview show and foreshadowing my current Story Geometry audio podcast, we created an episode of Volunteer Nation Radio featuring a round-table discussion with one volunteer each from the Clinton, McCain, and Obama campaigns.

We acquired fiscal sponsorship from the San Francisco Film Society for the project - meaning they served as a non-profit fiscal agent on our behalf if we were to receive foundation support, grants, and or donations. Despite not being fully funded, our work on Volunteer Nation lead to new projects with the Center for Social Innovation at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the opportunity expand our storytelling to global social entrepreneurs.