Do Something, Part II: Strength in Diversity

Do Something is a blog series about our effort to not just document change, but to be a part of positive change itself.

Windy was started by three white guys. We've all grown up with a fair amount of societal privilege through our ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and social-economics, all by accident of our birth. We certainly don't take credit for this privilege, and since we won't deny its existence, we've made it our company's mission to offer our resources, scalable storytelling specifically, to those whose voices are not often heard. 

Our life experiences, and resulting opinions and views, are pretty homogeneous. So while we strive to tell the stories of those who face systemic adversity, we often fall short in our ability to connect with them on a personal level. We'll do our best as journalists, listeners, interviewers, storytellers, but we won't pretend to have faced the same discrimination, insecurity, or injustices as many of the subjects of our stories.

Through research and relationship building, we do our best to understand our subjects' stories, but we can't ignore the life experience gap that often lies between us. And unfortunately, this often means that the truth of their story isn't fully translated to the screen.

We're proud to introduce a new role of Narrative Advisors into each project, an initiative intended to bridge the gap between our subjects and our audiences. A Narrative Advisor may be an expert in the field and/or share common life experiences with the subject of an upcoming story. In pre-production, they advise our team on the context of a story while building relationships with the subject. They direct the interviews in production and work closely to guide the narrative in post-production. Their life experiences and expertise helps our team by navigating complex social situations, while helping the subject tell a more honest story about a potentially sensitive subject. 

To date, we've introduced the Narrative Advisor role to projects with two clients - My Life My Choice and Planned Parenthood. Both focus on injustices to women's health, an area we had little experience in previously. For My Life My Choice, Nikki Valila, the organization's Training Coordinator who has been working with commercially sexually exploited girls for over a decade, took the time to help prepare us for emotionally challenging stories from former victims. "It was a privilege to have the opportunity to be a part of this project and to be the person that would help create the space to give them the platform to share parts of their life that are vulnerable,” Nikki said after we wrapped. “We tried to do this in a way that was empowering for others to share their stories in the future."

The resulting interviews were so incredibly honest and deeply moving that we decided to capture two of their stories on 35 mm film. After hearing their stories, we wanted to introduce the raw, cinematic quality of the analog medium to this project.

With Planned Parenthood, we worked closely with Holly Nunn, currently a director of communications with the client and formerly a journalist. Working with Holly in both Indiana and Iowa was a pleasure, as she played a critical role in understanding the experiences of midwestern women whose health is under threat.

We're incredibly thankful to have such rewarding experiences with these first two Narrative Advisors. We feel strongly that the strength of impactful storytelling relies on a diverse collection of experiences and views. This isn't lip service or marketing - for us this is about making a structural change to our business model and workflow to better represent the subjects of our stories. Our hope is that this model continues to grow, ultimately building a team of diverse journalists who can draw upon their personal experiences to pursue Windy's mission of honest and impactful storytelling. 

We're looking for more Narrative Advisors for a few up-coming projects. We're searching for people who have unique access to stories, with a strong passion for bringing a voice to those who are not often heard. If this sounds like you, please email us directly at contact@windyfilms.com.