I had never thought that air would be something we need to care for. This is really a major issue that affects every single life form on earth. But why has no one talked about it?
“CREATING MEDIA FOR CHANGE”
Every politician will talk about it. It will concern every economy and business. Because we can’t continue using natural resources as if they are unlimited. We live in a limited world.
Social & Environmental Activist, Documentary Maker
Hello, I am Wannasingh Prasertkul, a documentary creator and an environmental activist. I started off with curiosity and this drove me out into the wild world.
I started young. There was a culture of learning in my house; a family of academics, social and political activists. These were part of my childhood as I was growing up. When I look back at how I got to where I am today, I am not surprised, considering my upbringing.
I was born into an environment that prepared me to explore the world, in the same way I am doing now. There is no boring story for me. There is nothing that I don’t want to know. I never question why I have to know this. Knowledge that’s not applied in daily life, doesn’t render it useless. It is simply useful for other dimensions yielding much greater benefit than experience as an individual human being.
I Learned How to Create Documentaries
When I was 25, I had a chance to make my first documentary. An opportunity came out of the blue and this led to me spending the first five to six years of my working life trying to understand humans and humanity.
I started with history and social issues and then moved into fields I was really interested in. These included wars, conflicts and hotbeds of hate. Gradually, “Hardcore Holiday” emerged.
Broadening my horizon through travel actually dismantled a lot of myths I had. When I learned how to create documentaries, moving from presenter to producer, this was my second step of change in this field of work. The third step was to focus on environmental issues.
It started when I began to understand humans. I first thought humans were really big. And I tried so hard to understand humanity. But after a while, I began to zoom my lens on humans out, to see the ecosystem, and the world at large.
I realised that humans and humanity was just one of the stories. This one story is enveloped by a much larger ecosystem. There are things that are very big and equally as important as human existence and humanity. This is the realization that set my path.
I have put what I learned to good use whilst documentary making and have been able to develop and share new dimensions of storytelling with my audience. My goal is to raise awareness among Thai society of social and environmental issues, to have impact and, where possible, be the storyteller who inspires change in habits and practices.
Creating Media for Change
If you want to make people interested in something beyond their daily lives, you need to be able to connect. Connections can be in the form of persuasion or storytelling techniques.
For me, I use travel, excitement, the thrill of visiting these places around the world to grab attention. Then I gradually draw the audience towards issues that they didn’t expect, be it refugees, causes of war in the Middle East and Central Asia, climate change and the environment.
It’s Not About Talking About Your Life
If you want to be in this field, it’s about other people and other places. There are ways to craft and design these stories, to weave meaningful storylines so that the messages being conveyed can be easily synthesized and absorbed.
Once you master the art of storytelling and develop your own style, you can make some impact on this world.
Countdown to Environmental Crisis
I had never thought that air would be something we need to care about. But now, we are done for. Pollution, water related issues; these are threatening a resource that is a basic but fundamental need for all life.
We all know this. But actually goes far beyond. Resources used in production; they all have a story. After production, we release them, whether in the form of pollution or waste. They leave our sight but where does this waste and these pollutants go?
All things are connected. Without good management, one day it will return to mankind. But we cant limit our concern just to mankind. A host of other species are also adversely affected along the way.
We are born into this world and if we all embrace the opportunity to understand and connect with life on earth as a whole, we will be more open minded and able to lead a more complete life ourselves.
I hope that I have helped to convince you that the issues we face today, and those that we will face tomorrow, need to be brought to attention, discussed and addressed. What I do is not academic work. I’m not a professor, nor an academic. I produce media and, to be successful, I need to grab the attention of my audience in the shortest time possible.
5 Keys to Create Media for Change
I would like to share five key takeaways that I have learned from my experience and which you should keep in mind if you want to work in the field of communication; storytelling to make an impact on society.
1. Be Objective, Not Subjective
First, let me stress that it’s not about you. It’s not about your ego. You go travelling and it’s about the places you visit and the people you meet. It’s about something much bigger than you.
I filmed a documentary about cannibalism. I didn’t utter a single word about my personal opinions. I was a vehicle that conveyed their stories to the eyes and ears of others. Whatever you think is up to you and infusing your own opinions in your stories and documentaries about society, is a trap that is easy to fall into.
I am sure that anyone who has experience in creating stories for social impact have experienced this. To avoid it, you need to keep telling yourself that it’s not about you. It’s not your ego. It’s about something much bigger than you.
2. Everything in Life is Connected
Second, everything in life is connected. By that, I mean there are two dimensions; the dimension of humanity (politics, society and economics), and the environmental dimension. They are connected. They constantly interact with changes occurring between both dimensions.
To change something bigger than us, you need access to tools, mechanisms, politics, and technology. You need to be able to see these clearly. You need to set clear goals. The first goal to set is to identify what you are fighting for and to know and understand what your objectives are. What does success look like to you? Secondly, you need to know how to fight it. You need a clear strategy.
Blend the two dimensions with your objectives and your strategy and then create media for your chosen platform or channel for communication. Your feelings and thoughts will then be in sync.
3. Unlearn to Relearn
Third, make a point to “unlearn” everyday. That is, you need to be happy to forget or unlearn. Un-memorise old knowledge and experience. Your great enemy at a time of rapid change is experience. Sometimes, learned experience can dictate what you must do. But the world continues to change and evolve and this can render experience useless. Learned experience can become a problem.
So what I keep telling myself is to continually distill experiences, conserving those that are useful. These experiences combine within us to form our personal bank of knowledge, which can be passed onto future generations.
The fundamentals of storytelling are constant but how we tell stories also changes with time. This is something that we need to unlearn all the time. A 40-50 minute documentary may have captured the attention of large audiences in the past, but things have changed.
Of course, it’s tiring to continue catching up. So we need balance. This way, we can still fight while caring for ourselves, so that we are not too burnt out.
4. Talk to the Heart
Fourth, talk to the heart. Conveying thoughts or targeting people’s brains can stimulate eagerness and excitement, but ultimately the thing that really motivates people to get up, to change and to do something, is when you talk to their emotions.
If you want to choose this path, you must find ways to make your life more meaningful. This may involve connecting to things around you, or to fight for something bigger than yourself. This is what most of us want. If you can link what we say to such needs, you will magnetize people.
Change comes from the heart. Try to talk to the heart.
5. To Change the World, You Have to Change Yourself First
Fifth, I believe that before you go out and tell others how the world should be, you need to first look at yourself. If you, personally, are entirely fulfilled (i.e. all is perfect in relationships, finance, family, yourself, and health), your motivation to to travel in order to initiate a big change or achievement will be less. You may have some motivation, but you are unlikely to mix your level of fulfillment with the need to initiate change too much.
I used to be a guy who wanted to talk big. But I didn’t take care of my family. I didn’t care about them. Sometimes, I even felt that their feelings were not important compared to the greater causes out there. But as I grew up, I learned that it doesn’t work that way. You need to take care of those close to you first, since they need you the most.
For the world, no matter how bad, there are almost 8 billion of us. The world keeps turning, with or without you. Hence, the thought that society doesn’t change if you don’t go out there, and that the world depends on you doing that, is just your ego talking. The world doesn’t need you. You need the world.
The world isn’t waiting for a savior like you, but you certainly can take part in it and do something good to change the world. But trying to do it alone is not enough. You need millions to join you. But you are needed most by those close to you, and yourself. Make sure you take good care of them before going out to embark on something bigger.
5 Key Takeaways
Going out to change the world requires a broad perspective, soul, and the ability to crystalize thoughts in parallel. The reason for this is so that your key messages don’t originate from somewhere disconnected from the world at large, they are not your judgements on the world and not your opinions on how the world should be.
Your message should come from where you are standing in the world. You then expand the circle around you and you will then see how you may be able to contribute and be useful, and how you can have impact, no matter how big or small.
I believe everyone has their own stories and everyone can have a voice. What you need to know is how to project your voice. That’s at the heart of creating media for change.
Stories that Spark Change