Category Archives: Just Do It film

Just Do It! now out on Creative Commons release!

Almost a year ago, Just Do It!, a film that follows the adventures of direct action environmental activists in the lead-up to the Copenhagen climate summit, was unleashed on the world. A joyful romp around the ins and outs of our corrupted political system, the film grants its viewers the kind of access to the young (and not-so-young) ideologues battling the man in their bid to save the planet previously only granted to undercover agents working for the Metropolitan Police. It’s a great movie, and last week its makers released it for free download and sharing under a Creative Commons licence. Visit the Just Do It! website for more information on how to access to film.

It’s been my privilege to advise the makers of Just Do It! from time to time, and I’ve been engaged and inspired to see them experiment with approaches to getting the film out and in front of as many audiences as possible since they first let me in on the project in Summer 2010. The film has been made for the most part outside of the traditional process, with crowd-sourced funding playing a big role during post-production. Since last July, the tireless team at JDI HQ have been working with fans of the project to get the film screened in local cinemas and at universities, and taken up by Netflix. A CC release was initially delayed to allow a window to the cinema, TV, and DVD releases, and to agitate for inclusion on the American film festival circuit. Now that the CC release is finally with us, the one last thing I’d like to see the JDI team able to do is document their experience so that other makers of films as educational and culturally relevant as this one can be encouraged to take the plunge and go CC.

The team are still soliciting donations to help cover their costs, and if you weren’t part of the crew that funded the film up front, you should certainly consider making one. If I can’t convince you, here’s veteran of the movement and star of the film, Marina, with a few stern words:

Just Do It film screenings across the UK from today

Just Do It logoLast Saturday, I donned my highest heels and headed to Shaftesbury Avenue for the premiere of Just Do It, the crowd-funded documentary film about direct action in the envrinomental movement directed by wonderwoman Emily James.

I loved it. Not just for the honest yet loving portrayal of the young, and not so young, activists whose story it follows. Not just for the biting sense it leaves you with that you could, right now, be doing so much more to safeguard the planet for your children and grandchildren. Not even just for the close examination of the appalling way we often treat dissent in this country, a subject very close to my heart. I loved it for its joy. It is a truly joyful film, a film that lifts you up and makes you feel better about the world and your place in it. That is a serious achievement, and one about which I hope Emily feels very proud.

It’s a serious achievement when you think that this film was made for the most part outside of the traditional film-making industry. The sheer confidence and drive that Emily and her team must have had to keep going over the last two years is an inspiration to me as I continue my own modest project in heterodox media. In exchange for their troubles, they’ve maintained the trust and support of the activists who star in the film (many of whom were at the premiere last weekend), and it is the total access to this community that was granted to the film-makers that is what makes this film so unique.

Tonight is the film’s opening night (at the Ritzy in Brixton – I’ve just checked and it looks like there are about a dozen tickets left, so act fast). I urge you to go and see this film, and I promise you won’t regret it. Here’s the trailer:

The film will be coming to Cambridge at the start of next week for a four day run, and is also showing at Aberdeen, Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Henley, Kendal, Liverpool, Nottingham, Oxford, Poole, Stratford, York and many more independent cinemas and festivals across the UK over the Summer. For full details, visit the Just Do It website.

I blogged about Just Do It, and the reasons I was supporting them with advice and cash, last year. One of the great things about this project is that from early on, Emily saw the value that releasing the film under a Creative Commons licence would offer her in terms of getting her message out. The Creative Commons release is not out yet, but is expected in Autumn this year. As Emily explains:

The Just Do It team are very much committed to a Creative Commons release of the film. In order to balance the demands of the traditional capitalist distribution system (which still holds many of the cards in getting a film out) with our desire to participate in a more progressive movement which re-envisions the relationship between creative work and capital, we have had to agree to hold back the Creative Commons release to give a window to the cinema, TV, and dvd releases.

Once these are out of the way (we hope Autumn 2011), then we shall be releasing the full theatrical version of the film for peer-to-peer sharing, via a range of bit-torrent sites, which we shall actively seed and promote.

Purists might groan at this, but I think it is a pragmatic and thoughtful approach from a film-maker keen to do her film and its subjects justice by getting it through as many different channels and in front of as many different viewers as possible. Mixing the best of the progressive and the traditional has been an approach I’ve seen the Just Do It team adopt in everything from sourcing people to translate the film’s subtitles, to persuading local cinemas to show it. One current project is co-ordinating a massive day of free screenings across university campuses, pencilled in for 18 October.

A final thought. It’s interesting that Emily uses the word “capitalist” to describe traditional film distribution channels. Without spoiling the film for you too much, that’s a word that many of the young activists use to describe themselves by the end of the story, prefixed, of course, by “anti-“. But I left the screening wondering if these people were really anti-capitalists, or if it was something else they were “anti-“. Back when I was a full-time digital rights activist, I baulked at the close quarters the political class kept with global corporations like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! (not to mention the BPI and the MPA) The relationship between government and big business is being thrown into some relief by the current scandal around Murdoch and his media empire. What shocks most is not that companies pursue profit, but that government seems so happy to collude and fast-track that profit-seeking, above and beyond the interests of the people who they are meant to represent. Chris Marsden calls this rotten corporate-state nexus “regulatory capitalism” I’ve also heard it called “corporate mercantilism” and, occasionally, “fascism”. Identifying as “anti-capitalist” might be the wrong thing to do if your aim is to prize apart the state and corporations from their current huddle for safety.

Thinking a little more about this is something I’d like to do once I’ve got this book launch out of the way. That and scaling the fences of a few coal-fired power stations.

Help raise £20K in 20 days for Just Do It, an exciting new CC film about climate change activism

One of the last things I did before I quit being ED of ORG was to visit Brussels to implore MEPs not to extend copyright term in sound recordings. The hearing was dominated by members of the Green grouping. I remember one of them commenting after the speech that the various extensions to copyright law – both in term and in scope – that Brussels has been asked to consider over the years were contributing to a sort of pollution that would eventually damage the cultural landscape irrevocably. It was a powerful metaphor, and one which has stuck with me.

For the past year I’ve been helping, in a very modest way, to advise the talented team behind Just Do It, a documentary about climate change activists, their cause and the way they go about advocating for it. Emily James, the Director of the film, is a passionate and inspiring film-maker, whose past credits include (as writer/producer/director) The Luckiest Nut in the World, (as producer/director) The Battle for Broadway Market and (as Executive Producer) The Age of Stupid. Just Do It is currently in post-production: once finished it will be released Creative Commons NC ND. Which, of course, is excellent news.

Emily tells me that as she’s gone around the country explaining what she’s up to (this woman is seriously tireless), she’s often had to give her climate-conscious audience a primer in Creative Commons, because they’ve never heard of it. She says that once they hear about Creative Commons, though, they love the idea, and I have to say I’m not surprised. Like the planet, the sum of human knowledge is a common resource, a public good, and yet much like free market capitalism does for natural resources, the copyright system is getting worse and worse at protecting the public good aspects of human knowledge. Libraries find it increasingly difficult to archive our cultural heritage, creators find it increasingly difficult to use the signs and symbols around them to tell stories to the rest of us without bumping into a grumpy lawyer from a global media corporation.

Given this similarity, what’s even more interesting is the way that the establishment goes into lockdown when IP reform campaigners and climate change advocates alike try and voice their concerns. We’ve just seen the final round of the secret Anit-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement wind down in Tokyo. The result is less worrying than everybody feared – thanks to the excellent work of KEI and La Quadrature du Net at smoking out those rats. But what’s really frightening is that democratic governments ever thought it was okay to make law like this, given that last time I checked institutions like WIPO, that have worked hard to establish a voice for civil society in the small matter of the enclosure of the mind, are still alive, well, and providing excellent meeting facilities in Geneva. Similarly, part of the story of Just Do It is about the measures law enforcement have taken to silence those activists willing to devote their lives to saving the planet for all of us, often using legislation meant to combat terrorism.

So three cheers for Just Do It. Although I thought my begging days were over once I’d left ORG, it seems that I’ve got one last puff left in me, so here goes. The team are trying to raise £20,000 towards finishing the film and Lush cosmetics will match anything you donate in the next 20 days. So I’m coming over all Charles Satchi and donating £150 today. I hope you will too – visit this page to find out why they’re crowdsourcing funding, what they’ll spend the money on and what privileges you get when you become such an esteemed patron of the arts. Go on, get off your arse and change the world!