Filming and participating

Working with Sunrise Project is always exciting and fulfilling, and gives us a chance to partner with an organization in a really close way. We not only helped them to organize activism around climate change, but were deeply embedded in that activism, filming events as they unfolded in often unpredictable ways.


A documentary purist (or more technically a “direct cinema” purist) would say that you need to keep a distance from your subjects in order to record events as they happen, to not effect them in any way. Aside from the fact that purity in any artistic venture is a dead end, we also find that being good filmmakers requires that you go on every journey with your clients or subjects, even if you disagree with them or their methods (in the case of Sunrise Project, we agree!), instead of maintaining distance. Truth isn’t always about distance, but more often about knowledge.

Arne Johnson
Dream clients dream big.

We had worked with Melanie for years at the nonprofit evaluation company she founded, See Change, helping to tell the powerful stories of how nonprofits find success…or don’t. Our partnership was often tricky, as any good evaluation won’t just celebrate work, but give challenges to further success. We found that video, interestingly, was really difficult for people to process unless it was promotional, so there was a lot of context-building we had to do for these videos to be successful. Melanie was an ideal partner in these conversations, which often spilled over into lunches and coffee breaks. Despite having to confront ornery clients and seeing first hand where do-gooding often broke down, Melanie never lost her energy and optimism for doing better, which was deeply inspiring. When she contacted us about doing a series of videos about the human impact of federal budget cuts on Alameda County residents, we jumped at the chance to work with her again.

Arne Johnson