Monday, 11 November 2013


Some of you know, some of you don’t - but I’ve had a lot of time on my hands recently.

While I have managed to do a little work, most of my time has been spent reading, researching, and trying very hard not to feel too bloody sorry for myself.

But an article I read today by international cancer blogger Chris Lewis  in the latest edition of My Healthy Lifestyle  gave me some food for thought, and probably a much needed kick up the arse. I strongly recommend you give it a read.

Let me explain. I need a job.

I mean I really need a job. Not the money. Not the security. The job.

I’m experienced. Across the broad spectrum of journalism and broadcast news I’ve been there, done it, and bought the t-shirt. I’m not even that old.

So what’s the problem?

I have cancer. Da-daaa! That’s a downer, eh? A bit of a party stopper. Stage IV too!

While I am relatively new to the struggle, I was only diagnosed in August, I am already feeling isolated from the regular workforce that was once so important to me.

I had given up my full-time job and was on the threshold of entering the freelance market when I was diagnosed. Talk about awkward timing - just when I needed every ounce of my energy and confidence.

But of course a cancer patient has to be honest with a prospective employer, even as a freelance. And to be fair, anyone suffering from a chronic illness that involves frequent and sometimes debilitating courses of treatment would present an unfair burden or risk. 

So it’s tough. None of us know exactly how we are going to respond to any particular round of treatment, or how long it will take us to get back on our feet. So while I have certainly been looking for a job, I haven’t actually applied for any because I've pretty much convinced myself that I am unemployable.

And this makes having a job so much more important. Self esteem. A reason to get up in the morning the day after chemotherapy. Feeling responsible. Wanted. Important even. Needed. 

That is really needing a job. Any financial rewards or security are pleasant by-products. 

Yes I need a job. But so do many others who are in far worse shape than me. 

So the question is: how do we change this? What can we do as a society, as a community, to create opportunities for people with chronic diseases such as cancer? 

I would really like to hear your thoughts. 

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Thursday, 17 October 2013

Pediatric Cancer Research/Resources

Ridealist Productions is donating 30 percent of our fee for an upcoming project to an organisation(s) involved in childhood cancer research or support.


Just over three months ago Ridealist cameraman and producer Chris Gelken was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma. While Chris and Ridealist have previously supported cancer research in one way or another - including participating in Movember 2012 - the diagnosis sharpened our focus. 

For instance, we became aware of a huge disparity in the distribution of research funds and of available resources for supporting individuals and families dealing with cancer. In the United States for example, less than 5 percent of the government’s total budget for cancer research is spent on childhood cancer. 

Ridealist is not going to change that. But we can make a contribution towards changing it. 

About us and more on the project.

Ridealist was established as a non-profit society in Hong Kong in 2009. 

Since then we have produced more than 30 videos for small, grassroots NPOs and community groups on a pro-bono, volunteer basis. 

In June of this year we de-camped from Hong Kong and moved to central France where our plan is to re-establish Ridealist as a functioning social enterprise. 

Our essential “business plan” is to produce social documentary material and commercial videos as a social enterprise - at a social enterprise rate. This will enable us to remain sustainable while pursuing our original goals to provide media services on a volunteer/pro-bono basis to those groups and individuals who simply have no budget. 

We are currently working on the first of our commercial projects - A Year In The Vines - a four-part series on wine production in the south of France.

Ridealist is responsible for filming and editing the production. As part of our commitment to social responsibility we plan to donate 30 percent of our fee for this project to pediatric cancer research/pediatric cancer resource organisations. 

In addition, the producers of A Year In The Vines has announced they will contribute 50 percent of all funds raised above the production target amount. 

We are currently seeking research/resource organisations to partner with. Perhaps we can select an organisation for each of the four segments of the production, or share the overall amount between two, three, four, five, six organisations. What do you think? 

We would promote the partner organisations on A Year In The Vines website, Facebook page etc, using your logo and carrying links to your websites. 

If you would like to be considered as a partner organisation, please do get in touch with us as soon as possible! We plan to roll out the fundraising video on November 1st. 

For some of our latest work please visit our website, but for a more comprehensive gallery of  the videos we have produced over the past couple of years you can find us on our page at GoodnessTV. 

Warm regards,

Chris Gelken

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Monday, 14 October 2013


Nothing can prepare you.

Even when you have harboured suspicions that there might be something seriously wrong, the words still hit you like a hammer blow.

“You have cancer”.

Suddenly everything becomes BC and AD.

Before Cancer, After Diagnosis.

In less than the time it takes to draw a breath, the person you were in the years BC has left the room.

And for a while it feels like he has taken every friend or lover you have ever had with him.

The contemplation of your own fragile mortality is a very lonely process.


While still trying to absorb and come to terms with the diagnosis -- and the often debilitating consequences of the treatment -- you suddenly notice you have stopped planning.

It really is quite a shock.

We all plan. It is a central plank of our very existence. Next week, next month, next year. Retirement. Children’s graduation. Wedding anniversaries. We all plan. We can’t help it.

But the freshman AD just stops doing it. Perhaps not entirely consciously, but stop it does.

The future is no longer a fascinating mystery in which we surrender our inhibitions and indulge our fantasies.

It is dark, painful and so very scary. The freshman AD just doesn’t (want to) think about it.




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Friday, 5 April 2013

Ridealist - Social Enterprise Video Productions

Ridealist Productions - was originally established in Hong Kong as a non-profit society in 2009. 

Since then we have produced more than 30 videos for small, grassroots NPOs and community groups entirely on a pro-bono, volunteer basis. 

In late 2012 we decided to embark on this work full time - and since mid-June this year have been setting up our new base of operations at our home near Limoges in southwest France. 

Our essential “business plan” is to produce documentary and social awareness videos as a social enterprise - at a social enterprise rate. This income will enable us to remain sustainable while pursuing our original ambition to provide media services on a volunteer/pro-bono basis to those groups and individuals who simply have no budget.

We’d like to become the “go to crew” for social documentary and awareness videos for the grassroots non-profit sector - globally! 

For some of our latest work please visit our website, but for a more comprehensive gallery of  the videos we have produced over the past couple of years please take a look at our page on GoodnessTV. 

Warm regards,

Chris Gelken

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Monday, 4 March 2013

Ridealist - The "go to” crew for non-profit video

Ridealist Productions will be moving from Hong Kong to central France in May or June of this year.

After several years of producing awareness and fundraising videos for non-profits and grassroots community groups on an entirely pro-bono/volunteer basis, we have decided to establish ourselves as a freelance, social enterprise production house.

It is a necessary and inevitable move in order to preserve our own sustainability.

Accepting paid commissions - but at a social enterprise rate - is the only way to keep Ridealist going.

The funds raised will allow us to cover our expenses and give us the financial freedom to continue to produce campaign and awareness videos on a pro-bono/volunteer basis for non-profits or community groups that simply do not have a budget.

This was the reason we established Ridealist, and we have no intention of losing sight of our original goals.

While based in France, we will be very mobile and delighted to consider projects in any location around the globe.

Please share this information with your non-profit and NGO contacts and help us hit the ground running. Your support will help us keep our service free for the majority of our clients.

Warm regards,

Chris - our main website - host for 30 of our pro-bono videos - Chris’ Ridealist blog - Our project for children in Uganda

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Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Hands of Action Children’s Art Auction

Who would like to help us arrange a “cheap and cheerful wine, and cheesy nibbles” art auction?

Six-hundred children from 4 schools and orphanages, dozens of volunteers in Hong Kong, the UK, Malaysia, and Holland helped to create the Hands of Action Children’s Art Project. 

On the website, each digital image sells for HK$8 - about US$1 or 70 euro cents.

So far we’ve raised enough to provide 960 meals for the children who painted the pictures. But we could do so much better, couldn’t we? After all, creativity needs feeding!

The images have been quality scanned and are printable on canvas up to 30 x 40 cm.

We can get this done locally in Hong Kong for about HK$100 per print.

So, with the help of a sponsor we reproduce 10 pictures. Find a location, prevail on a generous wine supplier, set up Skype links with the children, and have a fun couple of hours chatting with the kids, enjoying each other’s charming company, pretending not to notice how cheap the wine is, and bidding on the pictures.

If this sounds like a plan... please do get in touch!

If you are not in Hong Kong, and think this would be something you’d like to do in your community, we’d be equally delighted to help you arrange it.

Warm regards,

Ridealist - the “go to” crew for non-profit video.

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Thursday, 21 February 2013

A Sustainable Ridealist

(updated March 3rd)
Where we are now, and where we hope to go.

We are currently working on a 7-part series investigating poverty in Hong Kong through the eyes of photographers who document the issue. Six have already been filmed and edited, and are now in the process of being subtitled in English and Chinese.

The entire series will be released in mid-March at a gala evening hosted by The WYNG Foundation.

An earlier series “Poverty In the Midst of Plenty” can be seen on several platforms, but is currently grouped together as the latest videos on the opening page of Engage Media.

In the meantime, we plan to release a “teaser” by March 5 or 6 for The Other Hundred - a global photography project organised by The Gift Foundation.

A longer-term project we’ve been engaged on is a 25-minute feature for The Boys and Girls Club of Hong Kong, documenting their year-long mentoring programme -- The Blues and Greens. We’ve been filming since late last year, and will continue putting the story together over the next several months. We expect to “have it in the can” and begin post-production in October or November.

As a part-time, voluntary production team, you would be forgiven for thinking we had our hands full.

You’d be right, of course. But you’d also be wrong.

We are committed to establishing Ridealist as the “go to” crew for non-profit, cause and awareness video production. On a full-time basis. This is what we love to do.

While we are remain totally committed to our promise to provide voluntary, pro-bono services to those grassroots organisations who simply do not have a budget for the kind of work we do, we have to be realistic. If Ridealist is going to be sustainable, it has to be funded in one way or another.

So if you are or know of a good cause out there, one that deserves the Ridealist treatment, if you can help sponsor the project, then we’d be delighted to hear from you.

What we can earn from being a freelance social enterprise working on non-profit related projects, we can re-invest back into the community through short videos on a pro-bono basis for so many deserving causes.

Chris and Shirley.

P.S.: Also please don’t forget our Children’s Art Project - ChildofUganda - Awesome images of rural Uganda through the eyes of a child. Six-hundred children, four schools and orphanages, and dozens of volunteers made this project possible. The purchase of one painting will provide 10 meals for these talented children. So far we’ve achieved 960 meals, but we can do so much better, can’t we? Really, can’t we? 

You can also visit us on GoodnessTV 
Our website The Ridealist
And follow us on twitter @chrisgelken

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Sunday, 17 February 2013

Last call for the Shorty Awards!

Today is the last day to vote in the Shorty Awards.

In the #charity section, there are dozens of very worthy causes that deserve your vote, perhaps you should vote for them all!

But we’d particularly like you to vote for us!

You can vote here: 

However, some folks have expressed frustration with the site, and say their votes are not going through. If that happens, then just cut and paste:

I nominate @chrisgelken for a @shortyawards in #charity because... Then U have 40 characters to say why!

Paste it into your regular twitter comment box and send.. It will show up! Unless your avatar (picture) is an egg... apparently the Shorties don’t accept eggs.

Ridealist Productions is a free service to small, grassroots non-profits and community groups. We help NPOs get their message across - dealing with subjects such as violence against women, child abuse, poverty, inequality, human rights, the environment. More than 30 videos and more than a quarter of a million views in the past year alone.

And we do this pro-bono. Your vote could help us not only draw attention to the causes we represent, but also possible sponsorship in order to keep our service completely free to those who cannot afford to pay.

Please do vote.

Thank you.

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Friday, 1 February 2013

Ridealist and the Shorty Award for #charity

Nominate Chris Gelken for a social media award in the Shorty Awards!Nominate Chris Gelken for a social media award in the Shorty Awards

Since 2009 Shirley and I have spent many of our weekends, days off, and even vacations producing videos for small, less well-known non-profits and community groups.

We’ve covered so many topics: Poverty, Inequality, Human Rights, Domestic Violence, Child Abuse, Sex-Trafficking, Water, Disease, Animal Rights, Art for Children, Sustainable Agriculture, Desertification, Fundraising, Volunteerism.

We’ve worked with groups in China, Hong Kong, the UK, Korea, Kenya, Uganda... in the past year alone our videos have been viewed a quarter of a million times on platforms like GoodnessTV, GoodTube, YouTube and Vimeo.

In addition, many of them have also been embedded on the websites of the groups we’ve worked with, they’ve been shown on digital television in taxis throughout Hong Kong, broadcast on television networks such as Arirang International, used at numerous fundraisers, and even screened at United Nations events such as the UNCCD meeting in Buenos Aires two years ago.

So how many people have we reached? How many people have we touched? How many lives have we made a contribution, however minor, to changing? I honestly can’t say.

But I can say this with some confidence: Not enough. Not nearly enough.

What we have achieved so far has been done on a volunteer, pro-bono basis. In our spare time. Covering all our own costs.

Now imagine.

What could we achieve if we were honoured with a Shorty Award?

The recognition would immediately throw a spotlight on the causes we support.

Why? Of course people would want to know: Who is Ridealist? What to they do? And that would lead them directly to the causes, the non-profits and the community groups we support through our videos.

That is why your support and your vote is so important.

You are not voting for Chris and Shirley, you are not even voting for Ridealist - you are voting to raise awareness of the causes and issues that are important to you, that are important to us.

We have received some queries from our friends who have been having problems voting, but before we go there, one thing we’d like to mention.

We are not the only group in this “competition”. While we would love your support, why not take a minute to browse through the other great organisations who are doing wonderful work out there.

If you think they deserve your vote more than we do, then please go ahead and vote for them. There are so many groups and organisations that deserve to benefit from this award, but if you decide it should be us, here is a short “tutorial” on how to vote:

Go to the voting page for the #charity category:

And you will see this box, ensure the "I nominate" box includes our twitter address @chrisgelken and the award box is set at Charity.

Coming soon

Voting is now open!

Nominate your favorites in social media. The ceremony will take place in New York on April 8, 2013. Watch video highlights from previous Shorty Awards andget your tickets here.

Questions about voting?
Shorty Voting

I nominate  for a Shorty Award in 

Vote with a tweet. Votes must have a reason after "because..." or they won't count!

Complete the sentence in the box provided: I nominate @chrisgelken for a Shorty Award in #charity because.... (use your own words here)

And then click on the red box, “Tweet your Vote”

If your computer system isn’t set up to recognise and work seamlessly with all your social networks you may be asked to verify which social media client you wish to use - click on twitter - and you are done!

Whoever you vote for, please do vote.

Chris and Shirley

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