If you are a film, television or documentary producer with projects in far flung corners of the globe and you don't yet know about the UN's Creative Community Outreach Initiative (CCOI), you should. This tiny but effective four person team provides creatives with access to UN facilities, film and photo archives, experts and even field resources and contacts via the UN's offices around the world.
Established by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2009, Ban recognized the benefits that might accrue to the UN from proactively reaching out to those most passionate about storytelling. Introduce them to a trove of untold human interest narratives, capture their imagination, help them to accomplish their professional goals successfully, and thereby further the UN's own--to promote peace and a better future. It was a savvy move from a big bureaucracy, very much in keeping with the times, reflecting a fresh, collaborative mindset--in strong contrast to the No Trespassing stance the UN has historically held toward the entertainment industry.
Over the past two years the office--and the Secretary-General himself--have actively engaged in programs to inspire, prod and empower creatives across the industry--from big budget Hollywood television producers and filmmakers to renegade documentarians. Just yesterday the Secretary General appeared for the second year in a row at the Global Creative Forum's annual summit in Los Angeles, this time focused on the role that the creative community can play in supporting the UN in its environmental programs around the globe.
And April 8 - 9, in partnership with the Independent Filmmaker Project, CCOI will present the third annual Envision Forum in New York. The forum is a film screening and discussion series that uses documentaries to catalyze conversation on the UN's Millennium Development Goals. Last year's focused on education and included screenings of Davis Guggenheim's Waiting for Superman and Jennifer Arnold's A Small Act. This year's focus is the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger--films to be shown will be announced shortly before the event itself.
And of course, behind the public activities, there has been filming itself--television shows Law and Order SVU and Ugly Betty, among others--and assistance to a range of smaller projects and documentaries around the globe. Work has been mostly focused on the US entertainment industry in the office's first two years, given its small size and New York base. Outreach to and work with the broader international creative community is on its radar screen. Inbound queries from non-US partners are welcome.
The Secretary-General most eloquently said, in his letter establishing the Creative Community Outreach Initiative:
We work on behalf of those who have been silenced; we work to change their life stories for the better. Yet many of these stories remain untold. You in the creative community have a powerful voice, working to personally affect each viewer through recreating the drama we face on a daily basis.
The shared humanitarian passions of global diplomats and creatives is the common energy fueling the work of the CCOI.
The office is extremely accessible and encourages creatives to approach with any idea at all. A simple email is all that is required. Contact information can be found here (click on Contact Us, at top of page). In the video below you can catch a quick sense of the scope of the office's vision--plus a glimpse of the Secretary-General, as well as Michael Douglas, Whoopi Goldberg, George Clooney and Sarah Ferguson, all involved with UN programs around the world.