Early in 2017, we awarded an 8-month CMG Fellowship, including a $40,000 stipend, to Aleksei Wagner, a New York-based activist and filmmaker, to collaborate with 350.org’s digital campaign staff. Aleksei began his term with an assessment of 350’s use of video through conversations with more than a dozen staff and research into the organization’s campaigns, messaging, resources and visual styles. This early research phase quickly shifted into vital production work creating media for the Peoples Climate March (PCM), held on April 29, 2017.
During his 8-month tenure Aleksei produced more than 25 videos and laid the groundwork for a 3-year media roadmap aimed to build and expand 350’s capacity for using video for action.
According to Aleksei, “There was a lot of excitement to create video content from 350 staff, which gave me so many opportunities to work across the US campaigns… I felt that my role was very needed and there were so many meaningful ways for me to contribute to 350’s work. There was also a desire and an openness from 350 staff to developing different styles of video content and to engaging in the process in a creative way, which was exciting to take on and gave me room to try interesting possibilities and challenge myself.”
It’s hard to argue with the success of Aleksei’s work in conjunction with the 350 team. The videos he produced for the Peoples Climate March as a whole garnered more than 2.2 million views and more than 17,000 shares on 350.org’s social media, which doesn’t include all of the PCM partners’ metrics, who also shared the video content on their social channels.
In terms of on-the-ground impact, the Peoples Climate March recruitment numbers were “higher than expected” with the DC march consisting of more than 200,000 people and about 370 sister marches around the world consisting of approximately 300,000 people. According to 350.org, their outreach efforts were responsible for about 38,700 RSVPS via the website and another 2,200 on Facebook. They also expanded their email list by an additional 9,200 people, exceeding their goals.
In addition the PCM campaign which dominated the first half of the CMG Fellowship period, Aleksei produced videos for several additional campaigns in the second half of the fellowship, from stories about frontline efforts to rapid response videos about breaking news to the new Solar XL campaign. Aleksei also developed best practice documents to assist in streamlining 350’s media pipelines, such as developing an ongoing contract list of reliable shooters and editors and beginning work on organizing 350’s massive story bank and video archive.
Before completing the fellowship, Aleksei also worked with campaign leads at 350 to identify their priority narratives and create a rough video plan for 350’s campaigns in the U.S. for the next year.
Aleksei’s fellowship period culminated in a 2-day summit with 350 staff, including 350’s Executive Director May Boeve, Multimedia Manager Justin Benn, North America Digital Campaign Manager Sabelo Narasimhan, and CMG’s David Conover and Liz Smith, to discuss plans for ongoing video work and building out the scope and capacity of a video team within the organization.
This summit is not the end of Aleksei’s incredible work with 350. They have contracted him for an additional 3-months as a video producer, and hope to keep him on permanently as they build out their video team.
You can read more about Aleksei and view the bulk of the films he produced as a CMG Fellow on his grantee page at: http://www.conservationmediagroup.org/grantee/aleksei-wagner-350org
Through our CMG Fellows Program, we pair exceptional media makers and strategists in paid fellowships with established conservation organizations. Fellowships typically run for 3–12 months as part-time or full-time positions. While the filmmaker or strategist receives the fellowship from CMG, the host organizations are intrinsically involved in determining, overseeing and reporting on the activities & objectives of the CMG Fellow during the fellowship. A CMG fellow may be a filmmaker, social media strategist, or communications specialist and is typically selected from our yearly Catalyst Workshop participants.