The long journey to find a new(?) way of financing independent reportage
If you looked up from this page and saw that half of your colleagues, half of your friends or half of your family would be robbed of the same opportunity to read because of lack of light, city-wide power outages or inability to pay electricity bills, would it shock you?
Yet, this is the global reality: half of the world’s population currently cannot access adequate, reliable or affordable energy. In 2012, the United Nations, through its Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative, launched a global effort to ensure that every person on the planet will have access to modern energy by 2030. SE4ALL also calls for greater use of renewable energy and improved energy efficiency.
The UN Sustainable Energy for All initiative aims to eradicate energy poverty by 2030. As this collective effort ramps up, the ENERGY ACTION project (EnAct) is now keen to explore the starting point.
In the spring of 2013 we in BFC went down to France for an introductionary meeting with freelance journalist Marilyn Smith (a former editor at the IEA), the man behind the Everyday Africa movement and Life Without Lights project Peter Di Campo and Michel Wibault a strategic management consultant based in Paris. Over the course of two long days we outlined the basic principles for what was later to become EnAct. Our goal was to fundraise a substantial amount of money which would then allow us to create a series of multimedia packages with dynamic, editorial content focused around global energy poverty issues. On paper it sounded easy. Fundraise a large pot of money from influential energy sector players, secure editorial freedom, travel the world and make important work. In reality it turned out to be much harder…
Enjoying a Salade Nicoise during our first meeting in Paris. Armed with a handfull of pens we started to brainstorm and writing down ideas directly on the table cloth.
After much discussing we ended up agreeing on the project name – EnAct.
In late 2013 parts of the creative team traveled to Liberia and Nepal on self-financed trips to document the immediate aspects of inadequate- and unreliable energy. The idea was to shoot and produce a fundraising trailer which would allow us to attract sponsors needed for the project.
Photography by Peter DiCampo & Poul Madsen
Most of 2014 was spent on re-defining as well as upscaling the project, expanding the production team and establishing an advisory committee. In June that year we finally launched our fundraising trailer. It was shown at numerous international events within the energy sector. In the months that followed we worked on the project proposal itself with different designers and went more into detail about the content, scope and outcome of the project.
The EnAct fundraising trailer
In late April we took on energy reporting work by winning a film documentary tender for the UN SE4ALL initiative. We ended up working with freelance photographer Colin Cosier in Ethiopia (as we couldn’t get visas in time due to the national elections taking place) to secure footage for a PSA and traveled down to Uganda instead to film the majority of the material for the Clean Energy is Life campaign video. In Uganda we were fortunate enough to work with the well connected and super dedicated Reuters photographer James Akena and thanks to a persistent effort from Marilyn Smith our network soon started to grow within the international energy communities. As a result we finaly started to attract the sponsors we needed to kickstart the project.
Meetings in Denmark and Paris, hours of Skype calls, thousands of emails and days of discussions later… but now we are finally ready to launch our first EnAct package on fuel poverty thanks to financial support from the Rockwool Foundation. In late 2015 and in early 2016 we in BFC traveled to Wales and to Ukraine to shoot and edit two stories on fuel poverty. Over the course of the next eight weeks you will be able to read, watch and share a great range of editorial content from coldathome.today and tap into our SoMe flow by engaging directly on Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag #everyday_energy. With time we hope to turn the project into a valuable resource for the general public and to spread the word about energy poverty so that energy sector players and local politicians can work together and ramp up efforts to achieve sustainable energy for all.
A project like EnAct has proven to be an extremely difficult task to pull off, for a team of freelancers like us. It takes a lot of money, tons of commitment and patience – and an incredible amount of time to create something as ambitious like this. There have been many, many ups and downs throughout the process, but we strongly believe in exploring news ways of financing independent reportage. We also strongly believe in new ways of collaborating on editorial and independent journalism with like-minded creatives across borders, regions and language barriers. With this project we hope to inspire other freelancers out there to do the same.
EnAct will first examine the personal impacts of energy poverty and the dysfunctions that allow it to persist, then quickly expand its reporting to highlight the technology solutions and policy options that could change the future.
With this approach, EnAct will help a global audience understand the scope of the energy poverty challenge and the collaborative action needed to address it, capitalising on the power of multimedia to inform, engage and influence.
If you like our project idea and find it inspiring, please engage and/or spread the news to your friends, family and network. Our hope is that this project will grow and gain financial support in the years to come so that we can engage, inform and influence the general public, global energy sector players and the politicians.
On behalf of the entire team behind EnAct – Thank you for reading and spreading the message! And if you made it this far.. why not watch our new short documentary on fuel poverty in Ukraine right below…
The EnAct advisory committee
Dr. Jiwan Acharya, Senior Climate Change Specialist, Asian Development Bank
Dr. Harish Hande, Chairman, Selco India
Dr. Grayson Heffner, Deloitte Consulting LLP
Dr. Lawrence Jones, Co-founder, Center for Sustainable Development in Africa
Dr. Sarah Strauss, University of Wyoming
The EnAct creative team
Marilyn Smith, Creative Director
Stephen Mayes, Distribution Director
Bombay Flying Club, Multimedia Production
Peter DiCampo, Photographer
Michael Vestergaard, Interactive Design
Peter Ørntoft & Maro Haas, Graphic Design