Posts Tagged ‘Nashville Film Festival’

Gifts that are given from a space of gratitude have the power to unleash tremendous goodness into the world.  This is the story of one small gift that demonstrates the awesome capacity for that goodness to ripple onwards.

When I got asked to make a short-film for Blazin’ Hope 2, I agreed only after others had committed to do a lot of the preliminary work so that I could finish the piece in 8 hours or less.  Somewhere on day 2 when I realized that the original vision / story wasn’t working, I was frustrated because it was going to take a lot longer to finish that I had planned.

After the frustration, or perhaps because of it, I started digging more deeply into a blog that had more information about this organization.  Every story I read touched me– I was so moved that I melted into the project, losing track of time and myself.  It took many hours over two more days to finish the video on Itipini, but those last two days were filled with such gratitude to be in a position to do something small to aid the noble spirit of the work.

On the night of the concert, I started getting text messages from other Be The Cause volunteers.  The audience was “frozen, mesmerized” and “deeply still” during the video while being “visibly moved”.  I forbid friends to send me SMSes because they cost me 2o cents in and out, so I knew that these notes were sincere or people would not have wasted my dimes on them.  Though I was already deeply rewarded during those last two days, the audience reaction and the SMSes were the first wave of many more rewards to head in my direction.

Turns out that the curator of a film festival was in the audience, and she was deeply moved by the video.  She asked me if she could enter it into the My Hero Film Festival.  I agreed and sent her several more films, all of which were received with the same excitement.  I forgot about the whole affair until a few months later when I was invited to attend the festival, and then sent home with all the top prizes and cash!

Again I realized that I had already been amply rewarded, so I immediately donated the cash to another beautiful effort called the Art Miles Mural project.  My interaction with them forged a deep friendship with their effort, and opened the door to an audience with the Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Ambassador Chowdhury (to whom I also gave a gift & smile card!).  It also lead to super-fun talk and interactive session with a group of kids from an afternoon program, and a film screening and short talk at a children’s talent show put on by Arts4Unity 🙂

The feedback from that first festival was to enter more festivals, and when I decided to do that, I was flooded by generosity from many friends who pitched in to fund entry fees into many other festivals.  These films have been seen, and won more awards at the International Family Film Festival, San Luis Obispo Film Festival, Garden State Film Festival, and Nashville Film Festival so far.  I only attended the San Luis Obispo festival, and was again flooded with gifts and generosity throughout that experience.  I have to write a proper blog post about the experience, but once again, I knew I had already been amply rewarded, and so I paid forward gifts during that festival– many of which have opened up other doors.

As beautiful as those film festivals were, I saw their limitations, which lead me to dream up the InSIDe Film Festival.  After only a short presentation at USC’s Cinematic Arts,  they loved the concept and gifted something like $20,000 in venues to make the event happen.  Incredible!  Of course, the InSIDe itself will be a gift-economy film festival, so that others can experience this magic 😉

Before all those festivals, Swap of Karmacy saw the video and wanted to hire me to make a video for one of their songs.  It was pre-election and they wanted to make it for Obama.  Of course, I had already been deeply rewarded for whatever little I had done, so it would not have been proper to be ‘hired’.  I naturally offered to make the video in the gift-economy, and was deeply gratified to be able to do something to help Obama get elected.  The piece made quite a little splash in the South Asian community, and I started getting emails from a few friends around the world who I had lost touch with over the years.  Amazing that despite years and separation our subtle connection never disappeared and was re-ignited through a gift given somewhere else!

Perhaps because of the film festival wins and the Karmacy video, MTV Iggy got interested in my work.  I’ll be introducing the world to my homie MC Yogi through a short piece that may get up to 110M views worldwide across several markets and platforms!  The relationship means it may be possible to introduce more inspiring stories to a broader worldwide audience.  What a way to spread the good!

Couple of weeks ago, I get an email from some folks on the east coast who are arranging a speaking tour for Jenny McConnachie.  They ask if they can use my short video on Itipini during her tour.  Of course they can!  In fact, I am humbled and honored that they would even want to use the video.  They’re a tad surprised by my enthusiasm, and lack of legalese-ish hurdles in getting permission, perhaps not understanding the spirit in which I operate.  I explain the story and purpose of Blazin’ Hope, and add:

As a filmmaker, I only work for inspiring people, organizations, and causes as a way of amplifying the good in the world.  The goal is to bring that goodness to as many people as possible  🙂   though I leave the marketing and outreach to the universe.

Turns out that it is the first time Jenny is speaking since her husband Chris McConnachie passed away in 2007.  Though this film helped raise money for her work, she had never seen it until her first presentation a few days ago.  Here’s the note I just got from the east coast:

Rahul –  Jenny and I have been in NY, NJ and MA with presentations and sharing what is happening at Itipini.  She saw your presentation for the first time and was in awe…she really, really liked it and is talking about taking and sharing it more….I wish you could have seen her watching the first time….awesome!   thank you again….Carla

It gives me goosebumps to put the woman who inspired me in awe!

The gifts keep on growing in every direction, revealing an abundance that I never quite experienced until I started living in the gift-economy.  Blazin’ Hope III is just around the corner– a chance to overflow again with gratitude and hope!

And to think, none of this would have been possible if I charged my “market rate” to make the video…


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Its not everyday that the curators of a film festival ask a filmmaker to submit his films to their festival, and then send him away with 5 awards, including the top 3 prizes and cash!  Yesterday, however, was one of those unbelievable days.

Here’s the awards from the My Hero Film Festival, held yesterday at USC.

Best of Fest Award for Law of Love

Best of Fest Award for Law of Love

First Place Award for Law of Love @ My Hero Film Festival

First Place Award for Law of Love

Second Place for Itipini Community Project

Second Place for Itipini Community Project

Special Hero Award For Friends Without Borders

Special Hero Award For Friends Without Borders

Special Hero Award for Itipini Community Project

Special Hero Award for Itipini Community Project

You can watch the Law of Love here, and the Itipini Community Project here.

When inspiration is the only currency that powers your work, you come out ahead whether or not anyone recognizes you or contributes financially.  And if you keep planting those seeds of inspiration, every so often, one will blossom into a tree that drops a ripe fruit in your lap  🙂  And if every tree has hundreds of fruits and thus thousands of seeds, in enough time you may just witness the birth of a ‘rain forest’ with enough ‘oxygen’ for everyone to inhale inspiration all day!

The feedback from the festival was that I should enter films in bigger festivals, and find a way to complete the feature-length Friends Without Borders documentary spanning 70+ hours of footage and 2 years of shooting.  I’ve been reluctant to enter festivals because I’m averse to self-promotion or even talking about myself, but I’m realizing that I may be blocking many people out from being inspired and in turn propagating that inspiration.  My reluctance has been facilitated by having no money for festival entry fees in the first place, what to mention the time to complete a feature-length film.  But if people want to see that happen, I’ll play my part 🙂

So in the spirit of allowing more people to participate in propagating the inspiration, I’m launching a new experiment here: Inspiration Investment !

Here’s how it works

If either the Law of Love or Itipini Community Project films move you, you have the opportunity invest in more people becoming inspired by these films by paying the cost of entering them into an upcoming film festival.  You can do so at 4 convenient levels, depending on your financial and ideological comfort with the gift-economy:

Livin’ It & Givin’ It –  Inspiring others and giving of yourself is your reward. Karmic ROI: potentially infinite.  Financial ROI: minus 100%

Payback is Sweet – Get your money back.  Karmic ROI: 100%.  Financial ROI: 0%

Dow (Tao?) and a Half –  Get your money back, plus 15%.  Karmic ROI: <100%.  Financial ROI: 15%.

Double Your Money –  Get your money back, and then get your money back again.  Karmic ROI: ?  Financial ROI: 100%

Financial prizes at these festivals can be hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.  So, if these films win at ANY festival, than EVERYBODY who invested will get the return on investment that they requested.  ‘Payback’ will happen on a first-come, first-paid basis.  After everyone has received what they need, I will accept the remainder as a fund to continue to survive in the gift-economy by making short films, and even longer ones if the universe facilitates that.  And If I win nowhere else, then every investor falls into the Livin’ It & Givin’ It category by default 🙂

To simplify the process for everyone, I’ve listed some upcoming film festivals along with entry fee and deadlines below.

Upcoming Film Festivals

Upcoming Film Festivals

When contributing to the Inspiration Investment Project, please add a note specifying the 1.) film you’d like to invest in (Law of Love, Itipini, Other),   2.) festival you would like to see it in (one from the list of festivals above, or other that you specify),  3.) dimension of your investment (from the 4 categories listed above).

Here’s a PayPal button to bring it down to a single click for you.  I can’t figure out how to get it to say ‘Invest’ instead of ‘Donate’  🙂

Also, please add a comment to the blog after you invest in a particular film and festival, so others don’t duplicate and I don’t get rich through your generosity!  Remember, only one investor per film per festival!!


UPDATE- 11/24/08

Nipun suggested that ChipIn might be a more fun was to raise the inspiration funds needed.  It also lets people invest smaller amounts to reach the target for each festival.  So here’s links to pages where you can track progress on the fundraising, in order of deadline.  BTW, the deadline listed above is the date that festival organizers need to receive the film by– which means the money needs to be here at least 4-5 days earlier!  So hurry up and click on the where you want to invest!

Cleveland International                            Law of Love /    Itipini

FirstGlance Hollywood                             Law of Love /    Itipini

Ashland Independent                               Law of Love /    Itipini

Garden State                                            Law of Love /    Itipini

San Luis Obispo International                  Law of Love /    Itipini

Seattle International                                 Law of Love /    Itipini

Vail                                                          Law of Love /    Itipini

Santa Barbara International                      Law of Love /    Itipini

AFI Dallas                                                Law of Love /    Itipini

Los Angeles                                             Law of Love /    Itipini

Nashville                                                 Law of Love /    Itipini

Beverly Hills                                            Law of Love /    Itipini

Gen Arts                                                  Law of Love /    Itipini

Palm Beach International                         Law of Love /    Itipini

Aspen Shorts                                           Law of Love /    Itipini

International Family                                Law of Love /    Itipini

Newport Beach                                        Law of Love /    Itipini

London Independent                               Law of Love /    Itipini


UPDATE – 11/25/08

More than enough money has been raised!

I’ve been awed and humbled by the generosity that’s flowed in.  Multiple people have told me that they want to fund every single festival, and where possible, I’ve stopped them so that others have an opportunity to be a small part of the inspiration.  One friend was just hospitalized from a fire in her kitchen with 2nd & 3rd degree burns, and she sends in a donation and offers to compose a score for a future film!  Another friend in India lives on $200 a month, and donates $65 of that to inspiring people on the other side of the globe!!  Yet another friend made films in Seattle, and not only funds both for the Seattle Film Festival, but offers to forward to all her film-investor friends in the city!!!  Another friend steps in and sends over $800 as a gift to his wife, joking that this is the true ‘Law of Love’!!!  What’s more astounding is that everyone simply wants the ‘Inspiration Capital’ returns instead of the financial returns, and most are bypassing the ChipIn system to remain anonymous to the world in the process.  Truly amazing.

I feel like I’ve already ‘won’ so many times over with this process– the conceptualizing, shooting, writing, and editing were all gifts before the first person saw any of the work, and then the hundreds of people who have been moved have made it even sweeter.  With this kind of energy behind these films, I feel like we’re going to touch a lot of people out there!

Thank you all for Investing in Inspiration!

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