Friday, 27 May 2011

Filling a critical need

We're pleased to say that despite being a little disappointed at having to postpone our China trip next month, and the fact that we won't be packing our gear and heading off for a new adventure, our tweets have attracted enough "home based" editing and production work to keep us busy for quite a while.

Our good friend Marcia Bujold (@MarciaBujold) has once again volunteered to work with us on an animated feature for SoulTalk, a local Hong Kong support group for women facing a crisis in their lives.

We're into the last week of producing two updated versions of our video for HandsOn Hong Kong, one version of which will be used at their Gala Fundraising Dinner on June 11th.

We're also working on a motion-graphics / Skype video interview production to showcase the work of an amazing young African artist - a collaboration with Vision Africa (@VisionAfrica).

It looks like we've booked most of our weekends for the next half year at least by teaming up with Drop In The Bucket (@DropInTheBucket) to produce up to three videos based on the material they already have and will be uploading to our server. Visit their website, some great stories there and we hope to bring them to a YouTube near you soon!

We're chatting with Aleksy at (@weblogicss) to remotely produce and direct a video for the Drug & Alcohol Service London - he'll do the filming, we'll be looking after general production and direction and editing.

We'd also love to do something with Just Us Friends (@JustUsFriends) - what a great initiative, and they sound like truly amazing people.

We've an enquiries from Jeff Wuchich (@jwuchich) from the truly heart-wrenching website - you'll be inspired and deeply moved by the content.

Apart from the above, we've received a dozen emails from other grassroots or start-up non-profits from Peru, North America, UK, China, India.. way too many to list here. And while we might not be in a position to do anything for them right now, we certainly hope to be able to in the future.

Shirley and I are convinced that Ridealist is filling a need, a critical need, to help the small, the start-up, the underfunded, the grassroots non-profits raise their profile. Give them some recognition for the amazing work that they do.

But as our own name suggests, while idealistic, we also have to be realistic.

Shirley and I can only do so much.

If we were doing this full-time we'd be busy.

But we're not full-time. We're volunteers working on a spare-time basis.

So this is also a shout-out to other volunteers who may be able to help us with the various aspects of production (animators, motion graphics designers, cameramen, photographers, video editors, web-designers, marketers, CSR executives, grant writers - and last but absolutely not least - fundraisers, financial donors and philanthropists).

With your help, we could do so much more.

Thanks for your support.

Chris & Shirley Gelken

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Donation "crowd funding"

We've received enquiries from non-profits from the UK to Uganda regarding our unique offer to film a documentary video pro-bono. (See below post).

Sadly, while all of them fit nicely into our target demographic of grassroots organisations, they also fit another of the general Ridealist criteria, they can't raise the necessary funds for expenses.

We'll be happy to throw in US$200 if we can get another 39 folks to do the same.

We can then take a joint decision on which project to film.

If you are interested, please "sign up" by leaving a message to this post!

Thanks, Chris & Shirley

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Thursday, 26 May 2011

Video offer extended for one day!

It has reached that time when we really do have to sit down with our forward planner and decide our activities for the next couple of months. But for for the rest of the day at least:

We are ready to devote 10 or more days at the end of June to film a full-length documentary style video for a grassroots non-profit organization on a voluntary, pro-bono basis, conduct all the post production, video and audio editing, titles etc - but the offer must close today, Friday.

If the project is in our immediate geographic area, currently Hong Kong, we will cover all expenses by ourselves. In a word, the whole process will be "free".

In the event we need to travel outside Hong Kong, we would have to ask the non-profit concerned or their sponsors to contribute to travel and accommodation expenses. But apart from that, all of our labour etc would be on a voluntary basis and not subject to any charge.

We regret charging expenses, but as volunteers responsible for maintaining and updating our equipment etc, our budget is probably as stretched as yours!

We are able to offer you this opportunity following the unfortunate postponement of a project we had planned in China because certain local licensing issues could not be resolved within the necessary timeframe.

So to avoid similar obstacles, we all need to act quickly.

We are working concurrently on a number of other projects, and in order to ensure that our time is spent productively, we'll begin to divert our attention and resources to those projects with effect of Saturday morning our time here in Hong Kong.

Think about it, think hard about it... you might think you can't afford the expenses to bring us to your location. But can you afford not to have the same marketing tools as your NPO competitors who are attracting all the funding?

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Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Pro-bono video - Journal update - updated!

Following the postponement of our planned project to film a documentary for a non-profit in China during the second half of June, Ridealist is now available to offer the same opportunity to another grassroots organisation - but the window of opportunity is closing fast.

From about June 20 to the end of the month I will be on annual leave from my "day job" with TVB Hong Kong.

If you are (or you know of) a grassroots non-profit organisation that would like a promotional video, an "infomercial" or a more in-depth documentary style record of your activities, please contact us at your earliest convenience.

In our immediate geographical area, currently Hong Kong, we operate on a completely volunteer, pro-bono basis, covering all expenses.

However, if the project requires travel outside Hong Kong and time away from home, then we would need to ask the non-profit or their sponsors to cover travel and accommodation expenses. Other production costs would be covered by Ridealist and our sponsors.

But time is now rather short and we are already considering our options to fill those two weeks productively.

Consequently, if you are interested in taking up this offer, please do contact us at your earliest convenience.

For more information about Ridealist and samples of our previous work, please visit our website

P.S.: We've been approached by a couple of groups today who expressed interest, and then (understandably) had to decline because of the cost of bringing us to their country.
Realistically speaking, if you are in the United States or Britain, the cost of airfare and accommodation will likely reach about UK Pounds 2,500 or US Dollars 4,000 - for a 10 day to 2-week shoot, and to be frank, you should be able to hire a local crew for that sort of money. Or then again, maybe not. Remember, we are not only producing and filming, we are doing all the post production editing too. So US Dollars 4,000 is still something of a bargain!

Anyway, factor this into your considerations. Look forward to hearing from you!

Chris & Shirley

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Saturday, 21 May 2011

This week's journal

Sadly, our summer project to film a documentary in China has been postponed because the NPO concerned could not get local permissions in time.

We are very disappointed, but certainly hope to reactivate the project at some time in the future.

This means we now have two weeks in June where we'll be available to produce and film on a full time basis.

As usual, it will be on a volunteer (pro-bono) basis, expenses only if outside Hong Kong.

In other news, we're still waiting for our society status to be awarded by the authorities here in Hong Kong. This does rather impede our ability to raise sponsorship funds to maintain our operation. In fact, it makes it pretty much impossible.

We are in need of upgrades to our gear; camera, more powerful CPU on our Macs to handle motion graphics, software... we are looking at a fairly sizeable chunk of change!

Consequently we decided to explore an option that other small un-registered grassroots NPOs have gone for, that is, a partnership with an already established organisation.

We'd be delighted to hear from you if you are interested in partnering and taking over responsibility for fundraising and finding sponsors for Ridealist.

Chris & Shirley

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Friday, 20 May 2011

Partnership possibility

Ridealist is considering the possibility of partnering with an established NPO for the purpose of helping us with funraising, sponsorship etc.

We are currently in the process of registering as a society here in Hong Kong and hope the process will be completed fairly soon.

If you have any suggestions, or are interested in forming some form of partnership, we'd be delighted to hear from you.

Chris & Shirley

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Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Question for fundraisers!

I know most of this information is already out there ready to be found, but trust me, this isn't laziness, it is time management.

If you follow our blog or journal, you'll know we've just finished one video for RUFG in Uganda - a wonderful collaboration with Marcia Bujold and Ayo Johnson.

What you may not know is that we are currently editing a new version of our video for Hong Kong-based volunteer group, HandsOn Hong Kong, scripting and storyboarding another animation for Soul Talk, working on a motion-graphic video for Vision Africa, and prepping a full-length documentary for Love Without Boundaries.

And we do this part-time!

And apart from having a busy schedule, we face the same issues of many small non-profit initiatives - sustainability.

We've applied for "society" status here in Hong Kong that will allow us to openly seek corporate sponsorship, not only for our ongoing projects, but also to expand.

But anyone who's gone through a similar process will know how time consuming it can be.

So the question is, does anyone know of any online fundraising tools that are open, transparent, and of course, open to groups that are not yet officially registered?

We are particularly keen to attract interest for our documentary for Love Without Boundaries which will be filmed in China at the end of June.

Because it is outside our immediate geographic location they have kindly offered to sponsor us with airfare and hotel expenses.

This is very generous of them, but it is money they can ill afford. They already do tremendous work with very limited resources.

So your input would be most gratefully received!

Chris & Shirley

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Saturday, 7 May 2011

We love eating in the rain

Who isn't familiar with the old saying: It never rains but it pours?

It's either a feast or a famine?

It was a bit like that for Ridealist when we first arrived in Hong Kong a year ago.

We'd been kept incredibly busy in Beijing, but suddenly we were on an unplanned hiatus.

You could say we were dry and hungry.

We are delighted to say that all that has changed. We have more projects on the go at one time now than we ever had while in China. We are, as it were, enjoying a banquet in the pouring rain.

It took a little time to get to know the local organisations. And vice versa.

We also decided to use the available technology to reach out beyond our immediate geographical location.

The happy consequence of that decision is "Hands of Action Uganda" - our first production done completely without leaving the house!

Amazing animation by Marcia Bujold , narration by Ayo Johnson, and the photography of Mukhobeh Moses Khaukha.

We'd like to extend our gratitude to Marcia who did the entire animation on a volunteer basis. Her support and creative input made this whole thing possible.

A huge and heartfelt thank you!

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Monday, 2 May 2011

My take on the Osama Bin Laden take-down

(This page is the official blog of Ridealist, but I am also a full time journalist and sometimes feel the need to get things off my chest. Normal service will be resumed shortly - and if Ridealist gets the funding, permanently!)

Just got home from a very busy day in the news room - you can imagine.

Driving home I was thinking of the millions of soldiers over the centuries who have gone into battle with the name of a long-dead spiritual or religious figure on their lips.

I hesitate to use the names of the most obvious, but you know who they are!

Perhaps they could also have invoked a favourite saint, an imam, a fabled leader of old...

Whatever "good" book they subscribed to in one hand, and a sword or scimitar in the other, they would storm fearless into battle, assured their sacrifice would be rewarded.

Brits also sailed to war on ships like Achilles... Ajax.. Oh, how we love our ancient heroes, even if they were fictional.

"Gott Mit Uns" on German belt buckles from Imperial times to the end of WW2 didn't mean they had woolly gloves with no fingers.. It meant they had someone rather powerful on their side.

The problem was, the other side thought that too.

The amulets we wear around our necks, the charms we carry in our pockets, the prayers that sit on our lips. They don't make us invincible, but they do convince us of the righteousness of our cause, and they give us comfort.

The Navy SEAL team that went after Osama Bin Laden apparently had "kill not capture" orders. And making what invocations to their deities they thought appropriate, they stormed in and did the job.

But what did they do really?

This time yesterday, most analysts would have said Bin Laden was a virtually spent force.

Boxed in, unable to communicate effectively.

Still "America's most wanted" for sure. But how much of a "clear and present danger" was he?

One commentator I watched today said they weren't even selling tee-shirts with his image in the market anymore, Che was far more popular.

But overnight he is once again front page news. See those tee-shirts reappear tomorrow.

Not simply because the Americans got him. That's part of the Western media hoopla.

No, because, if the reports are to be believed, he went down fighting. A gun in his hand.
No groveling Saddam Hussein. No cowardly Hitler who took the easy way out.

And in the Islamic media, that element is playing rather well.

So what has been achieved? We've just made him a martyr. A popular hero. Again.

Isn't that how we popularise many of our heroes - even if they weren't?

Isn't that how any culture popularises their heroes?

Died with their boots on?

Went down fighting?

Never give up! That's the spirit!

There was the half-hearted attempt to link the death of a woman to her being used as human shield by some cowardly defender. But in the background noise, that story sunk like a stone.

Should have worked a bit harder on that PR pitch, boys.

And then there is the sudden concern of the Western allies to Muslim sensitivities, the headlong rush to bury him at sea less than 24 hours after his death.

A noble tribute from one warrior to another? Well, that is how it will be played - perhaps without the "noble warrior" references.

While many world leaders from Obama to Cameron struck a suitably sombre pose, no smile, no jingoism, no Bush smirk. No triumphalism, just "justice has been served."

But they were quick to remind us, warn us if you like, that al-Qaeda wasn't just Osama Bin Laden. There are other equally nefarious players in the mix there.

Thanks, we knew that.

They told us that the fight would go on. I guess we knew that too.

But I think the point they missed, is that we just gave the opposition a new rallying point.

If Bin Laden was slipping from his pedestal as the leader of al-Qaeda, we should just have continued to let him slip. What harm? Apparently somewhat in ill health, needing a stick, and utterly and almost totally out of touch. A bit of a spent force heading towards obscurity.

A has been.

Bin Laden? Oh, yeah, I remember him. Wasn't he George Bush Snr's business partner?

(No, tsk, his son, the terrorist one). Oh yeah, right.

Sadly, today's events have just cemented him there. Back on the jihadist pedestal.

And finally, not least in the events of today that made me cringe; the crowds of youngsters who gathered to cheer, sing, drink and dance on the watery grave of Bin Laden. So much for sensitivity.

Images of the celebrations have been beamed around the world. We've just killed someone that hundreds, thousands, many thousands of people actually still revere as a hero. Whether in your opinion they are misguided or not, that is a fact that you cannot escape.

Sure, we've seen the same examples of insensitivity. We've seen jihadists chanting and singing around the bodies of dead pilots being dragged through the street. They ain't no angels either.

They've committed unspeakable acts of cruelty, barbarity. Certainly by our standards anyway.

But as they say, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

But something tells me that dancing on Bin Laden's grave isn't going to impress them very much.

As another commentator said today - "I think we have just swatted the hornets nest."

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