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Film and media are powerful change agents. One of my favorite inspirational leaders to speakScreen Shot 2022 04 24 At 4.40.14 Pm to is Scilla Andreen, the founder of iNDIEFLIX. She has used her talents and entrepreneurship to start meaningful conversations on topics that are hard to find a starting point but need to be discussed. Through film, conversations are rippling through families, and lives are being changed.

Not only do we discuss her broad impact on education and mental health, but Scilla also transparently shares her story of resilience and the why behind what she does so brilliantly. I am honored to know this woman.

Take a listen, and give iNDIEFLIX a shoutout.

indieflix.com/education/films

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Guest Bio:

Scilla Andreen is CEO & Co-Founder of iNDIEFLIX and an award-winning Producer, Director, Emmy nominated Costume Designer, Author & Founder of iNDIEFLIX Foundation. She has produced and or directed such films as, Angst, LIKE, The Upstanders, Screenagers, The Empowerment Project and Nevertheless, currently she is directing her latest project, RACE a documentary about the effects of race and racism on our mental health. She is a mother of 6 and resides with her husband Eric in Seattle WA. Scilla is on a mission to change the world with film. indieflix.com

Raw Podcast Transcription:

Speaker1: Hi everyone. Today on the podcast, we are talking with award winning producer, filmmaker and Social Impact Leader from iNDIEFLIX and the iNDIEFLIX Foundation,

Speaker2: But I was listening in the world differently, and I was hearing stories that were changing me, and I thought, if I could share these stories with other people, maybe would it have the same kind of opening heart effect? And so I thought, I’m going to give it a shot. So Race to Be Human is my latest film, and it’s about the effects of racism on our mental health.

Speaker1: Welcome to the Social Impact podcast where people like you and I are making sustainable change throughout the world. Learn why they do it and how you can be a change maker in your community and across the globe. Each week we hear from people on their social issue and what compels them to make an impact. Hi, my name is Bree Jensen and I am the host of the podcast. Today we have special guest Scilla Andreen, who is the CEO and co-founder of iNDIEFLIX and an award winning producer, director, Emmy nominated, costume designer, author and founder of iNDIEFLIX Foundation. She has produced and or directed such films as Angst, like the UPS Standards Screen, AJR, The Empowerment Project, and nevertheless, currently she is directing her latest project, which I’m incredibly excited for Race, a documentary about the effects of race and racism on our mental health. She is a mother of six and resides with her husband, Eric, in Seattle, Washington, where I lived for 20 years. So I love Seattle. She lives on a mission to change the world with film. You can find her at iiNDIEFLIX dot com and she really is doing incredible things through the power of media. So let’s start the conversation. Sheila, thank you so much for joining the Social Impact podcast. This is the first season, as you know, so we’re very excited that you would say yes. And I can’t wait to talk about all the things that iNDIEFLIXis doing through making an impact in education and social responsibility and all that good stuff. So thank you so much for taking some time with us.

Speaker2: Well, thanks for having me and congratulations on doing this. I’m so glad you’re doing this. I love it.

Speaker1: Yeah. You know, we met a few years ago when I was really my core social issue was digital wellbeing. And you were so kind to have a conversation with me. That’s when I think the like film came out and I see that there’s new things coming about. Do you have updates on the like film and the reach and all that?

Speaker2: I do. I just filmed. I did some filming. We’re kind of doing an add on to it, so we’re not actually cutting it into the movie because it would actually change the the age of the audience appropriateness. But we are addressing what we’re going to address. Tik Tok Because TikTok wasn’t quite where it was at the time we released the film and sexting and pornography. And I think that that was something that. I felt like if I had that in the movie, then the audience age would have to come further up. And then I’ve learned so much recently that I thought, Oh, I have a duty to share this information with students first and parents, actually, all of them, everyone at first. We just need this information and how important it is to be able. At the end of the day, it’s really about having great communication. If you’re waiting to have age appropriate conversations with your kids, if you’re waiting for them to come to you, it’s too late.

Speaker1: Yes.

Speaker2: You need to have them you need to initiate it as the as the parent.

Speaker1: Yes. I was always preaching that back in the day when I first started that this is really with social media and the digital world. It feels like we’re always on the defense as parents. And so trying to kind of like maintain getting ahead of the game and being an offensive parent and getting on top of things. I’m actually still doing digital wellbeing coaching for families and I’m seeing a ton and I’m sure you are two of these group conversations that go awry and it’s with the whole class or the whole school and then there’s like a sexting incident and then parents are coming to me like, what do I do? And I’ll ask them, Have you had these kind of hard conversations that are really kind of like the sex talk? Like, what have you seen online and and how do you treat others? And they’re really uncomfortable, but they need to be brought to parents attention as like part of parenting now in 2021. So I’m just really thankful for all that you’re doing in the movie and the tool kit. You’re always so great at bringing awareness to social issues in a way that’s that really is a catalyst to a conversation. Do you mind sharing kind of your catalyst and your story of how you even got into becoming a social issue filmmaker and what initially started indie flicks?

Speaker2: Sure, none of it was planned, or I guess it was part of a master plan that just has been unfolding for me. But I actually really love the law and I wanted to be a litigator, so I was at NYU studying political science. I’ve always loved law shows and things interesting, and I was really bullied as a kid, so I spent a lot of time watching TV. I lived in a little mountain town in Colorado and I didn’t really have any friends. Don’t feel sorry for me. It’s okay. I had a dog and I had great parents and I had I watched a lot of TV law shows, but when I was in New York, I met a director and he needed help on a commercial. And I went and helped him. And it made I made money. Like, I was like, oh my God, I’m working three jobs, going to college, and here I got a job and I made $800 a day. And I got my first taste of like being around cameras and, and film. And I ended up we worked so well together. I went on to do a lot of commercials with him and just learned about casting and editing and story. So I dropped out of college and then I ended up kind of segueing over to television. And I did The Wonder Years as the costume designer party of five, Dawson’s Creek, Smallville.

Speaker2: What I like about you, just that was my career. And then during my sort of hiatus, because we always are off for a couple of months, I started producing and directing short films, feature films, going around to the festival circuit, and then ended up starting iNDIEFLIX as a marketplace for filmmakers, because there’s so many great films out there that Hollywood didn’t have the bandwidth to pick up. So that sort of became like my main gig. And I learned a lot about the distribution side of the business and streaming and how do you get people to watch stuff. And then a little film crossed my desk about bullying, and I’d been really bullied as a kid, so it really resonated with me and I thought, This should not be watched online, this should be watched in person. How am I going to get anyone to come to the theater? So I took it to one of my kid’s schools and it was such a powerful experience and it really transformed that school. Like within 90 minutes before we could start figuring out how to bring it to more schools, schools started calling us and suddenly we were doing it. And then they were saying, What else have you got? And then they’re like, We need discussion guides, we need marketing materials, we need classroom more classroom discussion guides to keep it going.

Speaker2: And I was just like, So suddenly we’re creating all these things, right? And then I did screen agers and. That kind of opened up things even bigger. And then I did angst. A friend of mine had asked me to make a movie about mental health. I didn’t want to do it. She said, You know. Kids are struggling right now. Parents are struggling. You need to make a movie about mental health. And I was just like. I don’t think anyone wants to talk about that. And me being Chinese, we didn’t talk about it. And so I just. I avoided it. And then a year went by and I saw her once a week. And then I found out in January that she I got a call that she had died by suicide. Oh, wow. And she had children and a family. And I just thought I knew she was struggling, but I didn’t know it was that bad. So I chose to make angst. The first movie about mental with about mental health. And we made it and then schools were actually not. They weren’t booking it. They were afraid that if they brought it into their schools, they only had one counselor and they didn’t want this counselor to be overrun with students.

Speaker2: They also didn’t have a lot of program in place to support the conversation. So it took about six months before school started to actually, like, book it. And once that started happening, we realized there was almost this kind of communal, therapeutic effect and people started opening up and talking to each other. And maybe a few more kids went to the counselor, but mostly people started opening up and talking to their coaches or their best friend’s mom or to each other. And then it just kind of went like wildfire. And we’ve done over like 10,000 screenings around the world. And from that they’re like, okay, what else have you got? So then where are you? And I come in together is with like because people thought, why is there so much anxiety? But what’s going on is really is there more? Or is it the same? And we’re talking about it or so I kind of wanted to answer that question. So like actually delves deep into what’s really going on. Why is that sort of addiction piece in there? And then there’s all these really cool hacks, like how you can disrupt your own behavior and create a better, healthier relationship with your devices and with some of the social media. So that was really fun.

Speaker2: And then people were saying, This is great, but why are people so mean online when they wouldn’t be that way in person? And that’s where the bullying thing kind of re-emerged for me. And so I thought, I’m going to make a movie about cyberbullying because it’s just so different than the old fashioned physical bullying, even though they go so hand in hand, right? What I ended up making a movie about was resilience and community and belonging and. And of course, we always tie it back to what’s kind of happening in the brain when all these things are going on. Because when you understand the science behind what’s going on, you can actually find ways to push through it or beyond it or understand what’s happening. And then, of course, you know, COVID hit and George Floyd and who asked me to make a movie about racism. And I again, I was like kind of like my angst days. I was like, no, I wouldn’t even know how to make that movie. But then I but I was listening in the world differently, and I was hearing stories that were changing me. And I thought, if I could share these stories with other people, maybe would it have the same kind of opening heart effect? And so I thought, I’m going to give it a shot.

Speaker1: Amazing. And I’m going to circle back to that because I just really love the project. And I want to learn more from you and what you’ve learned by making this film. But you know, when you’re sharing this story, I personally worked for two organizations that did school assemblies or school programming. One was on anxiety, so I would teach students classroom to classroom on kind of like triggers and warning signs and how to have resilience through those challenges. And then the other side was with Rachel’s challenge was the anti bullying and school safety and traveled the country and both were incredibly impactful. So I don’t want to take anything away from those. However, I am curious about your perspective on the influence and the immediate kind of catalyst of a ripple effect with documentaries and video, because I do see such an incredible kind of like mic drop moment with these stories and with video. So do you have some insights with that and what you’re saying with kind of like the ripple effects of the conversations?

Speaker2: Yeah, it’s a great question, you know. I think film is the most powerful medium on the planet, and I think music is too right. The thing about film is there’s a visual or an auditory aspect, and then there’s the feeling and the story. So you can actually like when I think about the elements of our films, we are modeling. Pain. We’re modeling hurt and struggle. So people. Feel like they’re not alone. And that’s a really powerful thing to realize. Oh, my God, I’m not alone. I’m not crazy. I’m not the only one. I’m not broken, like, right. This is a kind of a this happens to a lot of people. We model how to ask for help. We model how to respond when asked for help. But it’s woven into story. So you’re not it’s not tutorial. And so you realize you’re getting all this education and all this information and it’s going into your like for me because I was watched a lot of TVs as a kid because I didn’t have friends that was like my the people in my life. And in those days it was there was no serial killers. And, you know, all this sort of like bad negative stuff. It was we’re like positive, kind of unrealistic nuclear families and stuff. But it was it was more wholesome. And I grew up with a really wholesome sort of mindset of the world, and I still have it today.

Speaker2: It’s like helped shape who I am. But I think film is so powerful, whether it’s 2 minutes, whether it’s 2 hours, whether it’s a music video, whatever it is, I just feel like it creates this feeling and then it stays with you. So you build on that through conversation, which is truly the most powerful aspect of it. The best part of watching in a community is even if you just know that that community, everybody was assigned to watch it or something later is you now think about like when? Oh, I don’t know. I can’t think of the movie right now, but like when a popular movie comes out and everybody’s talking about it, you can talk to a stranger about it, right? Right. And we’re connecting and we’re sharing. We’re learning about each other. That is the part I really love to cultivate. I love sharing these micro stories with experts. And from brain science to mental health to educators and parents. And people find themselves in these stories and learn. And so I think that that is the drop mic powerful moment. Yeah. And they walk away. The greatest conversation is in the car on the way home after good old fashioned physical in-person screenings. Now it’s the screenings that we can do also virtually because we can do both. But it’s the conversation that keeps going.

Speaker1: Right? Right. Absolutely. And how do you think people find especially, say, like a middle schooler, like a seventh grader, how do they find that safe person to talk to after they’ve seen your film?

Speaker2: I think because, again, there’s some modeling of who that safe person is, whether it’s a counselor or a coach or your best friend’s mom or your parents, it kind of gives you the language to be able to say, well, this is what we’ve heard a lot, which is another reason why to watch in the same community is that a kid student could go to a counselor or teacher or friend and say, you know, the girl that was wearing the pink sweater, I have felt that. Or do you remember the boy with Michael Phelps? I have felt that like they don’t even need to say I have dark thoughts or I feel like I.

Speaker1: Have to articulate it.

Speaker2: They don’t have to say I have anxiety or I think something’s wrong with me. They don’t have to say those scary words they can point. Or the next biggest thing is people say. I really want my dad to see this so he knows I’m not making it up or. Yes, parents, this is the number one parent thing. Oh, my God. I wish I had this film as a kid growing up. I would not have it self medicated. I would have had more understanding and compassion for myself. And the second biggest comment from parents is, oh my gosh, I’ve been so hard on my kid. Like, I just need to listen to them and I will. Can I just say one thing that I feel like there’s this misconception that and I hear this a lot and I realize it’s such a subtle thing, but people will say, Oh my God, so-and-so is always saying they have anxiety or they’re overwhelmed or, you know, what are we going to do? What I’m going to do, like the whole world is like suddenly has anxiety and they’re paralyzed and they can’t do things. I’m like, if we could just remember that when someone tells you they’re struggling, they’re not asking to get out of something. They’re asking for help to get through something. And I think we tend to fall into this pattern of assuming, oh, well, okay, so they can’t do that. It’s like, no, they want to do it and they’re being courageous and sharing with you. Can you help me get through it?

Speaker1: Yes. Yes. Such a great insight. You know, my core social issue right now is healing from trauma and mainly because, you know, kind of it’s hard to share like a whole life story in about 30 seconds. But my dad passed away two years ago, just last week, and I believe he had struggled from undiagnosed mental health challenges due to trauma as a child and therefore impacted his ability to make good choices, his ability to stay centered and it rippled effect into his children. That story is not unique. I think that many, many people have that story and providing access to these tools that you’re providing for young people that maybe have experienced trauma or going through a challenge and identifying it and starting these conversations are so huge. Can you share a little bit of some of the stories that you’re hearing, like maybe your brief impact report from the films making kind of these aha moments so that there isn’t that generational challenge?

Speaker2: Yeah. And I’m sorry about your dad. It’s never easy. You know, it’s funny, my world, since making these films is like my kids will always say, please don’t go out Oprah on people like you, my boyfriend’s parents. Can you just talk about the weather? Like, do you have to deep dive into, you know, adverse childhood experiences and paralyzing anxiety or debilitating depression and isolation, suicide ideation, like don’t go there.

Speaker1: And I’m like, yes. Kind of hard not to. And that’s who you are.

Speaker2: To normalize in my life. And I told them I’m like, I don’t start the conversation. They just say, what do you do? And I say, I make these films, and then suddenly I’m in like almost like a therapist role and they start caring, like, what have you learned to do this? Because I felt that I learned so much that, you know, of course we’re going to end up hugging. And I share I get to share like all these wonderful like cognitive behavioral therapy.

Speaker1: Yes. Yes.

Speaker2: Gosh, when you can push through and reach out for help or just watching something and knowing I’m not alone. Right? There’s like a sense of relief and but then you can’t just do it, like, you got to, like, have community to continue to help that chemical release on the brain and to to learn about different exercises and things you can do or fun things that can help sort of like keep your brain in a good place. Yeah. Yeah. And, and it’s real. It works, whether it’s tapping, you know, like instant snapping ice cubes, journaling music, dance, breathing a standing outside on the grass instead of concrete. Chemical release on the brain. Like all these wonderful things, all free. And like, I wish people knew more about the power of that.

Speaker1: Yeah, it does. And it gives them the resource. Your films give the educators, the parents, the students all resource to have these conversations. Because a lot of times it’s like, okay, I’m saying this on social media or I’m doing this, or I’ve heard these like buzzwords, but I don’t know what to do with that. So, you know, thank you for the films and for the toolkits and everything that you’re resourcing schools with. I think that’s incredible. And I’m wondering kind of little tidbits of your expertise.

Speaker2: How.

Speaker1: People, social change makers or social entrepreneurs, people wanting to.

Speaker2: Use social.

Speaker1: Media for good can create these kind of micro stories. And you in their own world, if they’re not a professional filmmaker, if they want to be on social media to kind of like create these impact stories.

Speaker2: There is so much opportunity for people of any age and any sort of extensive or limited talent or skill set to I mean, gosh, having a phone if you have a phone, right? You can tell a story. And even if you draw, if what you’re thinking is drawing or painting or singing or whatever it is or a poem, you can if you can record it or somehow share it through social media, you have so many different ways that you can share positivity. And I got to tell you, like, that’s the secret I have learned in making race to be human, that there’s a lot of pain in the world, but there’s way more love and more, more hope. But we don’t get to see that because the airwaves are filled with negativity, because that’s what seems to get people rubbernecking, people listening, people saying stopping in their tracks because there’s a big, oh, right. And we need to change the brain. We need to retool and get more excited about something great that’s happening.

Speaker1: Yes.

Speaker2: And gosh, we’re so starved for that, that when they show like the last 32nd piece of a news whole segment is a good deed that someone did. And we’re all like an emotional and we’re like, oh, my cry. Like, Yes, wouldn’t it be amazing if all this and I also think there’s ways to frame anything. You know, my nickname is Fortune Cookie and I have everyone’s like, you are so freaking positive. It’s it’s ridiculous. Like, it’s not realistic. And I just feel like there I challenge myself every day in every way to find the good, in every experience. And people are like, there’s nothing good when thousands of people are dying. There’s nothing good when like there’s all these. Situations where people can only see one aspect of it. Yes, but as human beings, as we have story, as there is conflict, as there is joy and love and birth and death, you have to turn it around and look at it from different angles. Yes. And choose to look at it from a place that can bring you comfort and even joy. And that’s a reach sometimes.

Speaker2: But we have that opportunity in every single experience. Like we lost one of our children. She died on her birthday. Where do you find the good in that? Right. Well, we had to do a crowdfunding campaign because we didn’t have the money to bring her home to put her in his trial. She was in Ireland. So we did this crowdfunding campaign and within 48 hours, we had the money to bring her home. We never got her home because she went through so many other things and ended up dying. So what’s the good in that? Right. We were so floored and overflowing with love from all over the world, from strangers and unbelievable things that people did to express their love and comfort and concern. And she couldn’t believe it. Like she was blown away. And we have so much love now from that experience that we are overflowing with love and all we can think of is helping others. So we chose that path with this. But we always have a choice to find a gift in everything. Yes.

Speaker1: Yes. I mean, first of all, thank you so much for sharing that story. And there’s really no words that I have other than thank you for sharing. And and I see you and I’m so sorry that you went through that and your family and what an incredible reframing and perspective that we can all learn from is to live in that gratitude and finding the good in every situation. So thank you so much. I want to ask you about advocacy, because I could be wrong and please correct me if you’re wrong. If I’m wrong, not you’re wrong. If I’m wrong, I see kind of this underlying advocacy activism just bringing a voice to these challenges. And in a lot of your work, how do people become an advocate for their social issue?

Speaker2: It’s a great question. I’ve never really heard that one before. You know, it’s funny, we have a foundation. I have a foundation, iNDIEFLIX Foundation. I never dreamed I’d have a foundation like. I can’t believe it. I’m so grateful I do, because we can do such good with it. I was never like someone who marched. He’s never someone who signed petitions. I was never like I just I cocooned, you know, like I was kind of trying to lay low, you know, I’d been bullied. And then I was a bystander and I was like, you know, just wanted to keep my nose to the ground, be invisible, mind my own business. I didn’t get involved in things, but I spent a lot of time watching and listening because I, I, I love people and I love their stories and I love observing people. And I think. When you. Connect with yourself. You start to realize what matters to me. Right? And it’s confusing because I used to have people say, Oh, follow your passion. I’m like, Wow, I’m passionate about a lot of things. I’m passionate about watching TV. So is that what I should do? Like, I don’t I don’t understand what that means. Follow your passion. I still don’t. Right. And. But I think when we. Can not move so fast in the world and not just be doing this every waking moment.

Speaker2: And we learn to have moments of stillness with ourselves, to think about what do we care about? What brings us the greatest joy? And I think that’s probably where I started, was what would bring me the greatest satisfaction or joy. As crazy and ridiculous as it is. Right. Dream as big as or as small as you want. Maybe all it is is you want to have a little garden in your backyard. Awesome. Maybe it’s world peace. I don’t even know what that means. World peace, right? In charge of world peace. But I started thinking, like, what matters to me? And I think when I was bullied as that kid sort of locked in the cupboard in the classroom. I started to think about, you know, if. If these kids. Just new me a little bit. They wouldn’t hate me so much. That was my belief system in third grade, and they just hated me because the way I looked, because I’m Chinese and it was an all white community in Breckenridge, Colorado. And I started to think about how important it is to really see people and get to know a little bit of their story. Because we’re all human beings, we’re all equal in that way, yet we don’t really. So that’s kind of how I’m wired. Like when I see a homeless person on the on the ground and sleeping or begging or whatever they’re doing, my brain, and maybe because I’m a filmmaker, instantly goes back to them like they like Benjamin Button, like they suddenly start to get younger and younger and younger until they’re in the arms of their mother, perfectly healthy, with the hope of the world ahead of them.

Speaker2: Everything is out there for them to have. And I think. What’s their story like? What happened there? And I have compassion. But to get back to your question about advocacy, I think in order to really be an advocate for anything in life, you’ve got to connect with yourself and learn what’s important to you. And and then look at things that. That serve that feeling? Yes. Yes. And then show up. Volunteer. See how you can help. That’s the other thing is, as much as you may think, I have no money, I have no time. I have no ability to give. You actually do. Hmm. And it might be an idea. It might be a smile. It might be an introduction. But you always have something to give. And if nothing else, you have love to give. And so if you show up and you say, What can I do to help? And if we need this, I’m like, No, I can’t do that. What else do you need? What else could I do? Like, there’s just always a way to help.

Speaker1: Do you want to talk to you about the new project? About just. I’m really excited to learn from you. I feel like we can have, like, a whole second chapter or second podcast on this new film. But do you want to share a little more about what we can expect?

Speaker2: I didn’t want to make a movie that was political, and I didn’t want to do a history lesson. And in a lot of my interviews, I got the history lesson and I got the make sure you add about the health care disparities and the voting disparities and the like. The laundry list was long. Of all the things I needed to include in the film, and it reminded me of when I made like and everyone’s like, I hope you’re going to call out government and the platforms and how they’re abusing their power. And I was just like, No, I don’t do that. I don’t. Those things take too long. Those things I don’t feel like I can affect change. What I feel like I can help people, individuals with is finding a way safely to make change within yourself. And I think to me that’s where I am the most comfortable. So the film is really I go out and I just start filming. Lots of people and people always say, How do you find the people in the movies? I just like I don’t even I put out a call. I’m like, Would you want to talk to me? Sure, I’ll talk to you. What are the questions? I’m not going to tell you the questions. I’m just going to ask you like 20 questions. And you can always say, don’t use it, or I can say it differently or whatever. And I really go around and I film and I just start listening because I don’t know what the script is. I don’t know what the answer is, I don’t know anything.

Speaker2: I’m just collecting information. And through the stories I start to learn what’s happening and I see commonalities. And so I filmed about 100 people. I was in Hong Kong, UK, across the country, Canada, and I started to. Learn about kind of things that are going on. And there’s it’s all straight from the heart. There’s no pre-interview. They don’t see the questions. And then I get in the editing room and we just weave that story together. And grace to be human. I broke it down into chapters because I realized there’s a lot of confusion in the world. Not everybody really understands what allyship is. Not everyone knows what microaggressions are. Some people don’t really quite understand privilege. And and then also what is the true definition of racism? And so breaking it all down and then also like how what can we do? What can the schools do? What can work do? What can you as an individual do? What do you do as a white parent or zero white family living in a white neighborhood and you go to a white school, how are you going to create diversity in your family? How are you going to like introduce cross-racial friendships? We’re going to do right. So, like, I wanted to have that kind of information for families. I want to know, what could schools do right now? Because we know there’s bigger things that have to happen. But what can they do right now, tomorrow to make a positive difference? What can work do? So everything in this movie is low hanging fruit, things that we can do the minute it finishes screening and we’ve had our conversation.

Speaker2: Well, it’s interesting, right? We all want to talk about this. It’s a big conversation. Well, so is angst. So is mental health. And it took six months before anybody booked it because they were afraid. And it is still there. I had two schools in Silicon Valley that. Basically let us know because we were in the working title is just race because I didn’t have the title yet and they said, Oh gosh, too bad. Really interested in your film, but because you’re calling it race, we’d never show it because the title alone, we can’t do that. And it’s like, okay. And then there’s, there’s schools in other parts of the country where over the world that are just like, we can’t open up this conversation. We are not prepared to have it interesting. And some of the parents don’t want it. They’re like, Oh, you’re bringing in critical race theory. I’m like, No, we’re not. It’s, it’s not that. So it’s really interesting, but we’ll see. I do think that there are schools that they they get it and they know they’ve got to show this and they’ve got to open up that conversation. You know why? So people can take a deep breath and they cannot live in so much fear, not living so much fear that the world will never change, not live in so much. Fear that you don’t know how to communicate with someone like this will, I think, open it up to give us permission to be able to have more conversation.

Speaker1: Right. That’s fantastic. And I I’m wondering what an incredible case study on, for example, when you did release angst and the schools and areas that weren’t ready for it. And now this is happening obviously on a very different topic. But, you know, it would be such a fascinating research topic maybe for like a grad program or a doctoral program to examine the communities that are all about it and the ones that aren’t ready for it and how they even follow them on how they begin to start the conversations and when they’re ready for the film and all of that, I would be super interested in that. So that’s that’s fascinating to me.

Speaker2: I think it’s fascinating that we have these words and we don’t really understand where they came from. Think about ring around the Rosie, that little children’s nursery rhyme ring around the Rosie pocketful of posies ashes, ashes. We all fall down. It’s about kids getting which. Which disease was it?

Speaker1: Yeah, I know what you’re talking. And then.

Speaker2: Yeah. And having ashes in their ashes in their pockets to keep the smell of death away and they die. And, and so we’re like having fun singing these songs. We don’t really know the origin. Yes. We go to like we go to Cinco de Mayo and we have margaritas and tacos and chips and everything. But do we really know what we’re celebrating here? We know what is it? Independence, what happened when? What’s the story like? So when we can learn the origin of words, when we can learn the origin of story and people, I think that helps us view the world differently. And I think it also makes our world richer. So being aware of our words, because words create worlds and that’s how we can sort of start. That’s the bottom of the pyramid of hate is communication, early communication, microaggressions. We can start changing things on that level, which we can do. You don’t need money to do that. You don’t need a big program. You don’t need like to train up people. We all need to learn to be more aware of our words. And then I would also add our energy behind the words. Don’t ask if you want to ask someone if you’re curious about someone’s background. A lot of people are like, How do you ask, well, what are you? What are you really? Or Where are you really from? Like that? That’s that’s actually a little offensive. You say, what’s your ethnicity? Super simple. That’s your passport, that’s your that’s your starter sentence. And then ask it with curiosity, not fear or judgment. And so, like the energy behind your words is also incredibly important, just like in sexual harassment, right? Oh, you look nice. Oh, you look nice, right? Like right. It’s a different energy and height. There were things. I don’t think we can have rules where you’re not allowed to say these things. There’s different times that it’s totally fine. Yeah. What’s the context and what’s the energy? Where’s the where’s the dignity? Where’s the respect? Where’s the kindness? Like that has to be woven into all of it.

Speaker1: Yes. That’s such a great point about what’s your energy, what’s the kindness behind it?

Speaker2: I’m always a fan of when there’s a challenge to what feels like sometimes a blatant violation or abuse or something. It is an opportunity so long as it’s safe, right? There is an opportunity. Stop. Take a breath. Collect yourself and use it as an opportunity to teach. It’s just it’s like with parents when you find out your kid’s a bully, right? Oh, my God. No, they’re not. Whatever you go in the defense. Yeah. Drop. Collect yourself. Go in. Tell them how much you love them and what you love about them and then say, Are you okay? What’s going on? It’s true. And I also think, like, even just in this whole, like the racism conversation. Yeah, it’s not just white people that need to be patient. It is everyone that needs to be patient. And I know people of color have been more than patient their whole lives. Right? I’m one of them. Mm hmm. But why stop now? Right. When we have an opportunity, we’re talking about it more than ever. We have technology to continue to keep the conversation going. Why? Why stop now? Why say I’ve had a lifetime of it now? I’m not going to anymore. Like. No, sorry. That’s our life. We’ve got to keep being patient because now more people are open to it. Having this conversation and moving forward. Let’s make a change. Don’t get tired and give up now, like, you know, it’s and it seems like an unfair ask, but I think it’s important that we continue and we continue to move forward together.

Speaker1: Well, thank you for the.

Speaker2: Film.

Speaker1: And helping people to continue to move forward, especially on the school level, the education level where you are creating that systemic change from. I really believe in that social emotional education at the younger levels that will carry them throughout their lives. And so I’m really grateful for this film and the others that you’ve produced and and put out there and start these conversations. And I can’t wait to see the ripple effect of this of this film. Where can people find it? How do they get on board with everything?

Speaker2: Well, you can always go to Netflix and you can find it there. You like to learn about how you can see it. We’re going to create a lot of different ways for people to access it. Of course, we always want it to be surrounded with some form of community or conversation. I am going to I’m putting together a tour to go to the public, some of the public libraries in the country. I’ll be going to some theatres as well. Schools, corporations. So it’ll be sort of disseminated through. Like if it’s if a particular corporation is showing it, then those employees and their families will have access. If it’s showing at a college, the college licenses it, all the students will have access if it’s like. So we’ve made it. Our tools now are so much more evolved. We’re able to deliver the entire program and this wonderful experience with all the materials. And so it’s it will be accessible. You just can’t go to Netflix and watch it by yourself in your living room.

Speaker1: Right. No, I think this is going to be so great and I’m going to follow the journey and post a lot about it and get it out there as much as I can. As well as. Yeah, of course. I mean, I really believe in it. And I know I just kind of hit like such a tiny, tiny thing, but it was on my mind and I have so much to learn. Just as we close up, I have three rapid fire questions that I’ve been asking everyone. And so the first one, it’s funny that they’re rapid fire because their big question, the first one is, what is your purpose or motivation for change?

Speaker2: Because that’s life. Life is changing anyway. It never nothing is stagnant. You don’t like the weather, it’ll change. So I just like in the flow. I’m just with it. I’m not fighting.

Speaker1: It. Love it. Love it. The next one is what are your well being tips? So many people that are change agents get burnt out and have to take some time or whatnot. But do you have some tips?

Speaker2: Who’s our audience?

Speaker1: This would be mainly millennials and mainly millennials. Yep.

Speaker2: I’m a big meditator and I’m a big walker, so I love to meditate, I love to walk, I love to watch TV still. And occasionally I like a good martini and I’m a big time game player. I play a lot of I’m very competitive and I love to play games and I love to laugh. What’s your favorite.

Speaker1: Game?

Speaker2: Right now, I’m really into Rubik’s Cube and salad bowl, which is kind of like it’s a little bit like 100,000 pyramid only. You play with groups.

Speaker1: Oh, interesting. I grew up playing Yahtzee with my grandma and it’s still my favorite. My kids are like, This is boring. No, I love Yahtzee.

Speaker2: I love Yahtzee. Cribbage, gin. Gin rummy. Like, I love games.

Speaker1: That’s great. And then the last one is, how can I, meaning those of us that are listening make an impact in whether it’s our communities or our social groups or maybe at large.

Speaker2: I think everybody’s community is different, so. But always do something that you’re comfortable with, right? Like you don’t have to push yourself out of your comfort zone and go do something that you would never want to do. Right? Like do something that you get joy out of and and do push yourself out of your comfort zone. Meaning, like try new things. And sometimes the simplest things honestly, like whether it’s picking up trash on the side of the road. I have in the old days we don’t anymore. I have fed someone’s meter. You know when you could do that? Oh, my gosh, that’s cool. I’ve given a little money to or advice to people living on the streets. I’ve never done the thing where you pay for the person behind you, but sometimes you can do some sort of just start with good deeds, right? Like it feels good. And it kind of it creates this chemical release on the brain and you start to it kind of becomes addictive. And then you’re like, What else can I do? And then it’s okay to, you know, it’s so funny at Thanksgiving. Like, I want to take kids all down to, like, work in the mission. Well, they didn’t need any help. It was just like, wow, okay, so you got to, like, try new things, see how you can be supportive. And even if all you do is once and be really just be kind to people, smile, look them in the eye, say thank you. People are always like this, and the door opens for them and they just walk through and they’re not. They’re not noticing how wonderful people are around them.

Speaker1: Mm hmm. That’s great. Notice how wonderful people are around you.

Speaker2: Acknowledge them, see them, thank them. Say, you know, like be polite. Manners are big.

Speaker1: Yes, you can tell. I live in LA when I got excited. Yes.

Speaker2: Feed the change, feed the meter.

Speaker1: Prevent the parking ticket. But anyway, Sheila, thank you so much for all of your insights and for what you do. And like I said, we’re going to link to all the things that you’re doing and continue to get the word out about these films that are really creating sustainable change for young people and then rippling through their families that make such an impact. So thank you for your time.

Speaker2: Well, thank you so much, Brie. It was so nice to see you again. And yeah, well, I’m sure we’ll be visiting again. I got you on the horizon.

Speaker1: Okay, good. Hi, everyone. This is Brie Jensen from the Social Impact podcast. I want to say a huge thank you for those of you that joined us today and maybe you’ve been following along through every episode. This was episode seven of our first season. So huge, huge. Thank you. To those of you that are new to us and that are following on social media as well as sharing out and commenting. If you are looking for any kind of support when it comes to business consulting, business coaching, or you’re looking for some digital wellbeing help, we have a social media and digital wellbeing for our kids workshop on the website as well as coaching and consulting for you social impact business. So please go to the Social Impact Echo and feel free to reach out for a free consultation or find that workshop. Also, you can find me on social media at BRI Underscore Jensen Underscore. I love hearing from you and all that you’re doing to make an impact in this world next time on the social. On Impact podcast. I’m talking with three of my incredibly close friends. We are all social entrepreneurs from all over the world, and we’re going to be talking about what it’s like to be a social entrepreneur the fun times, the hard times and all the times. So I will see you next week on the Social Impact Podcast. Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss a thing.

 

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Speaker2: But I was listening in the world differently, and I was hearing stories that were changing me, and I thought, if I could share these stories with other people, maybe would it have the same kind of opening heart effect? And so I thought, I’m going to give it a shot. So Race to Be Human is my latest film, and it’s about the effects of racism on our mental health.

Speaker1: Welcome to the Social Impact podcast where people like you and I are making sustainable change throughout the world. Learn why they do it and how you can be a change maker in your community and across the globe. Each week we hear from people on their social issue and what compels them to make an impact. Hi, my name is Bree Jensen and I am the host of the podcast. Today we have special guest Sheila Andreasen, who is the CEO and co-founder of Indie Flicks and an award winning producer, director, Emmy nominated, costume designer, author and founder of Indie Flix Foundation. She has produced and or directed such films as Angst, like the UPS Standards Screen, AJR, The Empowerment Project, and nevertheless, currently she is directing her latest project, which I’m incredibly excited for Race, a documentary about the effects of race and racism on our mental health. She is a mother of six and resides with her husband, Eric, in Seattle, Washington, where I lived for 20 years. So I love Seattle. She lives on a mission to change the world with film. You can find her at indie flicks dot com and she really is doing incredible things through the power of media. So let’s start the conversation. Sheila, thank you so much for joining the Social Impact podcast. This is the first season, as you know, so we’re very excited that you would say yes. And I can’t wait to talk about all the things that Indie Flix is doing through making an impact in education and social responsibility and all that good stuff. So thank you so much for taking some time with us.

Speaker2: Well, thanks for having me and congratulations on doing this. I’m so glad you’re doing this. I love it.

Speaker1: Yeah. You know, we met a few years ago when I was really my core social issue was digital wellbeing. And you were so kind to have a conversation with me. That’s when I think the like film came out and I see that there’s new things coming about. Do you have updates on the like film and the reach and all that?

Speaker2: I do. I just filmed. I did some filming. We’re kind of doing an add on to it, so we’re not actually cutting it into the movie because it would actually change the the age of the audience appropriateness. But we are addressing what we’re going to address. Tik Tok Because TikTok wasn’t quite where it was at the time we released the film and sexting and pornography. And I think that that was something that. I felt like if I had that in the movie, then the audience age would have to come further up. And then I’ve learned so much recently that I thought, Oh, I have a duty to share this information with students first and parents, actually, all of them, everyone at first. We just need this information and how important it is to be able. At the end of the day, it’s really about having great communication. If you’re waiting to have age appropriate conversations with your kids, if you’re waiting for them to come to you, it’s too late.

Speaker1: Yes.

Speaker2: You need to have them you need to initiate it as the as the parent.

Speaker1: Yes. I was always preaching that back in the day when I first started that this is really with social media and the digital world. It feels like we’re always on the defense as parents. And so trying to kind of like maintain getting ahead of the game and being an offensive parent and getting on top of things. I’m actually still doing digital wellbeing coaching for families and I’m seeing a ton and I’m sure you are two of these group conversations that go awry and it’s with the whole class or the whole school and then there’s like a sexting incident and then parents are coming to me like, what do I do? And I’ll ask them, Have you had these kind of hard conversations that are really kind of like the sex talk? Like, what have you seen online and and how do you treat others? And they’re really uncomfortable, but they need to be brought to parents attention as like part of parenting now in 2021. So I’m just really thankful for all that you’re doing in the movie and the tool kit. You’re always so great at bringing awareness to social issues in a way that’s that really is a catalyst to a conversation. Do you mind sharing kind of your catalyst and your story of how you even got into becoming a social issue filmmaker and what initially started indie flicks?

Speaker2: Sure, none of it was planned, or I guess it was part of a master plan that just has been unfolding for me. But I actually really love the law and I wanted to be a litigator, so I was at NYU studying political science. I’ve always loved law shows and things interesting, and I was really bullied as a kid, so I spent a lot of time watching TV. I lived in a little mountain town in Colorado and I didn’t really have any friends. Don’t feel sorry for me. It’s okay. I had a dog and I had great parents and I had I watched a lot of TV law shows, but when I was in New York, I met a director and he needed help on a commercial. And I went and helped him. And it made I made money. Like, I was like, oh my God, I’m working three jobs, going to college, and here I got a job and I made $800 a day. And I got my first taste of like being around cameras and, and film. And I ended up we worked so well together. I went on to do a lot of commercials with him and just learned about casting and editing and story. So I dropped out of college and then I ended up kind of segueing over to television. And I did The Wonder Years as the costume designer party of five, Dawson’s Creek, Smallville.

Speaker2: What I like about you, just that was my career. And then during my sort of hiatus, because we always are off for a couple of months, I started producing and directing short films, feature films, going around to the festival circuit, and then ended up starting indie flicks as a marketplace for filmmakers, because there’s so many great films out there that Hollywood didn’t have the bandwidth to pick up. So that sort of became like my main gig. And I learned a lot about the distribution side of the business and streaming and how do you get people to watch stuff. And then a little film crossed my desk about bullying, and I’d been really bullied as a kid, so it really resonated with me and I thought, This should not be watched online, this should be watched in person. How am I going to get anyone to come to the theater? So I took it to one of my kid’s schools and it was such a powerful experience and it really transformed that school. Like within 90 minutes before we could start figuring out how to bring it to more schools, schools started calling us and suddenly we were doing it. And then they were saying, What else have you got? And then they’re like, We need discussion guides, we need marketing materials, we need classroom more classroom discussion guides to keep it going.

Speaker2: And I was just like, So suddenly we’re creating all these things, right? And then I did screen agers and. That kind of opened up things even bigger. And then I did angst. A friend of mine had asked me to make a movie about mental health. I didn’t want to do it. She said, You know. Kids are struggling right now. Parents are struggling. You need to make a movie about mental health. And I was just like. I don’t think anyone wants to talk about that. And me being Chinese, we didn’t talk about it. And so I just. I avoided it. And then a year went by and I saw her once a week. And then I found out in January that she I got a call that she had died by suicide. Oh, wow. And she had children and a family. And I just thought I knew she was struggling, but I didn’t know it was that bad. So I chose to make angst. The first movie about mental with about mental health. And we made it and then schools were actually not. They weren’t booking it. They were afraid that if they brought it into their schools, they only had one counselor and they didn’t want this counselor to be overrun with students.

Speaker2: They also didn’t have a lot of program in place to support the conversation. So it took about six months before school started to actually, like, book it. And once that started happening, we realized there was almost this kind of communal, therapeutic effect and people started opening up and talking to each other. And maybe a few more kids went to the counselor, but mostly people started opening up and talking to their coaches or their best friend’s mom or to each other. And then it just kind of went like wildfire. And we’ve done over like 10,000 screenings around the world. And from that they’re like, okay, what else have you got? So then where are you? And I come in together is with like because people thought, why is there so much anxiety? But what’s going on is really is there more? Or is it the same? And we’re talking about it or so I kind of wanted to answer that question. So like actually delves deep into what’s really going on. Why is that sort of addiction piece in there? And then there’s all these really cool hacks, like how you can disrupt your own behavior and create a better, healthier relationship with your devices and with some of the social media. So that was really fun.

Speaker2: And then people were saying, This is great, but why are people so mean online when they wouldn’t be that way in person? And that’s where the bullying thing kind of re-emerged for me. And so I thought, I’m going to make a movie about cyberbullying because it’s just so different than the old fashioned physical bullying, even though they go so hand in hand, right? What I ended up making a movie about was resilience and community and belonging and. And of course, we always tie it back to what’s kind of happening in the brain when all these things are going on. Because when you understand the science behind what’s going on, you can actually find ways to push through it or beyond it or understand what’s happening. And then, of course, you know, COVID hit and George Floyd and who asked me to make a movie about racism. And I again, I was like kind of like my angst days. I was like, no, I wouldn’t even know how to make that movie. But then I but I was listening in the world differently, and I was hearing stories that were changing me. And I thought, if I could share these stories with other people, maybe would it have the same kind of opening heart effect? And so I thought, I’m going to give it a shot.

Speaker1: Amazing. And I’m going to circle back to that because I just really love the project. And I want to learn more from you and what you’ve learned by making this film. But you know, when you’re sharing this story, I personally worked for two organizations that did school assemblies or school programming. One was on anxiety, so I would teach students classroom to classroom on kind of like triggers and warning signs and how to have resilience through those challenges. And then the other side was with Rachel’s challenge was the anti bullying and school safety and traveled the country and both were incredibly impactful. So I don’t want to take anything away from those. However, I am curious about your perspective on the influence and the immediate kind of catalyst of a ripple effect with documentaries and video, because I do see such an incredible kind of like mic drop moment with these stories and with video. So do you have some insights with that and what you’re saying with kind of like the ripple effects of the conversations?

Speaker2: Yeah, it’s a great question, you know. I think film is the most powerful medium on the planet, and I think music is too right. The thing about film is there’s a visual or an auditory aspect, and then there’s the feeling and the story. So you can actually like when I think about the elements of our films, we are modeling. Pain. We’re modeling hurt and struggle. So people. Feel like they’re not alone. And that’s a really powerful thing to realize. Oh, my God, I’m not alone. I’m not crazy. I’m not the only one. I’m not broken, like, right. This is a kind of a this happens to a lot of people. We model how to ask for help. We model how to respond when asked for help. But it’s woven into story. So you’re not it’s not tutorial. And so you realize you’re getting all this education and all this information and it’s going into your like for me because I was watched a lot of TVs as a kid because I didn’t have friends that was like my the people in my life. And in those days it was there was no serial killers. And, you know, all this sort of like bad negative stuff. It was we’re like positive, kind of unrealistic nuclear families and stuff. But it was it was more wholesome. And I grew up with a really wholesome sort of mindset of the world, and I still have it today.

Speaker2: It’s like helped shape who I am. But I think film is so powerful, whether it’s 2 minutes, whether it’s 2 hours, whether it’s a music video, whatever it is, I just feel like it creates this feeling and then it stays with you. So you build on that through conversation, which is truly the most powerful aspect of it. The best part of watching in a community is even if you just know that that community, everybody was assigned to watch it or something later is you now think about like when? Oh, I don’t know. I can’t think of the movie right now, but like when a popular movie comes out and everybody’s talking about it, you can talk to a stranger about it, right? Right. And we’re connecting and we’re sharing. We’re learning about each other. That is the part I really love to cultivate. I love sharing these micro stories with experts. And from brain science to mental health to educators and parents. And people find themselves in these stories and learn. And so I think that that is the drop mic powerful moment. Yeah. And they walk away. The greatest conversation is in the car on the way home after good old fashioned physical in-person screenings. Now it’s the screenings that we can do also virtually because we can do both. But it’s the conversation that keeps going.

Speaker1: Right? Right. Absolutely. And how do you think people find especially, say, like a middle schooler, like a seventh grader, how do they find that safe person to talk to after they’ve seen your film?

Speaker2: I think because, again, there’s some modeling of who that safe person is, whether it’s a counselor or a coach or your best friend’s mom or your parents, it kind of gives you the language to be able to say, well, this is what we’ve heard a lot, which is another reason why to watch in the same community is that a kid student could go to a counselor or teacher or friend and say, you know, the girl that was wearing the pink sweater, I have felt that. Or do you remember the boy with Michael Phelps? I have felt that like they don’t even need to say I have dark thoughts or I feel like I.

Speaker1: Have to articulate it.

Speaker2: They don’t have to say I have anxiety or I think something’s wrong with me. They don’t have to say those scary words they can point. Or the next biggest thing is people say. I really want my dad to see this so he knows I’m not making it up or. Yes, parents, this is the number one parent thing. Oh, my God. I wish I had this film as a kid growing up. I would not have it self medicated. I would have had more understanding and compassion for myself. And the second biggest comment from parents is, oh my gosh, I’ve been so hard on my kid. Like, I just need to listen to them and I will. Can I just say one thing that I feel like there’s this misconception that and I hear this a lot and I realize it’s such a subtle thing, but people will say, Oh my God, so-and-so is always saying they have anxiety or they’re overwhelmed or, you know, what are we going to do? What I’m going to do, like the whole world is like suddenly has anxiety and they’re paralyzed and they can’t do things. I’m like, if we could just remember that when someone tells you they’re struggling, they’re not asking to get out of something. They’re asking for help to get through something. And I think we tend to fall into this pattern of assuming, oh, well, okay, so they can’t do that. It’s like, no, they want to do it and they’re being courageous and sharing with you. Can you help me get through it?

Speaker1: Yes. Yes. Such a great insight. You know, my core social issue right now is healing from trauma and mainly because, you know, kind of it’s hard to share like a whole life story in about 30 seconds. But my dad passed away two years ago, just last week, and I believe he had struggled from undiagnosed mental health challenges due to trauma as a child and therefore impacted his ability to make good choices, his ability to stay centered and it rippled effect into his children. That story is not unique. I think that many, many people have that story and providing access to these tools that you’re providing for young people that maybe have experienced trauma or going through a challenge and identifying it and starting these conversations are so huge. Can you share a little bit of some of the stories that you’re hearing, like maybe your brief impact report from the films making kind of these aha moments so that there isn’t that generational challenge?

Speaker2: Yeah. And I’m sorry about your dad. It’s never easy. You know, it’s funny, my world, since making these films is like my kids will always say, please don’t go out Oprah on people like you, my boyfriend’s parents. Can you just talk about the weather? Like, do you have to deep dive into, you know, adverse childhood experiences and paralyzing anxiety or debilitating depression and isolation, suicide ideation, like don’t go there.

Speaker1: And I’m like, yes. Kind of hard not to. And that’s who you are.

Speaker2: To normalize in my life. And I told them I’m like, I don’t start the conversation. They just say, what do you do? And I say, I make these films, and then suddenly I’m in like almost like a therapist role and they start caring, like, what have you learned to do this? Because I felt that I learned so much that, you know, of course we’re going to end up hugging. And I share I get to share like all these wonderful like cognitive behavioral therapy.

Speaker1: Yes. Yes.

Speaker2: Gosh, when you can push through and reach out for help or just watching something and knowing I’m not alone. Right? There’s like a sense of relief and but then you can’t just do it, like, you got to, like, have community to continue to help that chemical release on the brain and to to learn about different exercises and things you can do or fun things that can help sort of like keep your brain in a good place. Yeah. Yeah. And, and it’s real. It works, whether it’s tapping, you know, like instant snapping ice cubes, journaling music, dance, breathing a standing outside on the grass instead of concrete. Chemical release on the brain. Like all these wonderful things, all free. And like, I wish people knew more about the power of that.

Speaker1: Yeah, it does. And it gives them the resource. Your films give the educators, the parents, the students all resource to have these conversations. Because a lot of times it’s like, okay, I’m saying this on social media or I’m doing this, or I’ve heard these like buzzwords, but I don’t know what to do with that. So, you know, thank you for the films and for the toolkits and everything that you’re resourcing schools with. I think that’s incredible. And I’m wondering kind of little tidbits of your expertise.

Speaker2: How.

Speaker1: People, social change makers or social entrepreneurs, people wanting to.

Speaker2: Use social.

Speaker1: Media for good can create these kind of micro stories. And you in their own world, if they’re not a professional filmmaker, if they want to be on social media to kind of like create these impact stories.

Speaker2: There is so much opportunity for people of any age and any sort of extensive or limited talent or skill set to I mean, gosh, having a phone if you have a phone, right? You can tell a story. And even if you draw, if what you’re thinking is drawing or painting or singing or whatever it is or a poem, you can if you can record it or somehow share it through social media, you have so many different ways that you can share positivity. And I got to tell you, like, that’s the secret I have learned in making race to be human, that there’s a lot of pain in the world, but there’s way more love and more, more hope. But we don’t get to see that because the airwaves are filled with negativity, because that’s what seems to get people rubbernecking, people listening, people saying stopping in their tracks because there’s a big, oh, right. And we need to change the brain. We need to retool and get more excited about something great that’s happening.

Speaker1: Yes.

Speaker2: And gosh, we’re so starved for that, that when they show like the last 32nd piece of a news whole segment is a good deed that someone did. And we’re all like an emotional and we’re like, oh, my cry. Like, Yes, wouldn’t it be amazing if all this and I also think there’s ways to frame anything. You know, my nickname is Fortune Cookie and I have everyone’s like, you are so freaking positive. It’s it’s ridiculous. Like, it’s not realistic. And I just feel like there I challenge myself every day in every way to find the good, in every experience. And people are like, there’s nothing good when thousands of people are dying. There’s nothing good when like there’s all these. Situations where people can only see one aspect of it. Yes, but as human beings, as we have story, as there is conflict, as there is joy and love and birth and death, you have to turn it around and look at it from different angles. Yes. And choose to look at it from a place that can bring you comfort and even joy. And that’s a reach sometimes.

Speaker2: But we have that opportunity in every single experience. Like we lost one of our children. She died on her birthday. Where do you find the good in that? Right. Well, we had to do a crowdfunding campaign because we didn’t have the money to bring her home to put her in his trial. She was in Ireland. So we did this crowdfunding campaign and within 48 hours, we had the money to bring her home. We never got her home because she went through so many other things and ended up dying. So what’s the good in that? Right. We were so floored and overflowing with love from all over the world, from strangers and unbelievable things that people did to express their love and comfort and concern. And she couldn’t believe it. Like she was blown away. And we have so much love now from that experience that we are overflowing with love and all we can think of is helping others. So we chose that path with this. But we always have a choice to find a gift in everything. Yes.

Speaker1: Yes. I mean, first of all, thank you so much for sharing that story. And there’s really no words that I have other than thank you for sharing. And and I see you and I’m so sorry that you went through that and your family and what an incredible reframing and perspective that we can all learn from is to live in that gratitude and finding the good in every situation. So thank you so much. I want to ask you about advocacy, because I could be wrong and please correct me if you’re wrong. If I’m wrong, not you’re wrong. If I’m wrong, I see kind of this underlying advocacy activism just bringing a voice to these challenges. And in a lot of your work, how do people become an advocate for their social issue?

Speaker2: It’s a great question. I’ve never really heard that one before. You know, it’s funny, we have a foundation. I have a foundation, Indi Flux foundation. I never dreamed I’d have a foundation like. I can’t believe it. I’m so grateful I do, because we can do such good with it. I was never like someone who marched. He’s never someone who signed petitions. I was never like I just I cocooned, you know, like I was kind of trying to lay low, you know, I’d been bullied. And then I was a bystander and I was like, you know, just wanted to keep my nose to the ground, be invisible, mind my own business. I didn’t get involved in things, but I spent a lot of time watching and listening because I, I, I love people and I love their stories and I love observing people. And I think. When you. Connect with yourself. You start to realize what matters to me. Right? And it’s confusing because I used to have people say, Oh, follow your passion. I’m like, Wow, I’m passionate about a lot of things. I’m passionate about watching TV. So is that what I should do? Like, I don’t I don’t understand what that means. Follow your passion. I still don’t. Right. And. But I think when we. Can not move so fast in the world and not just be doing this every waking moment.

Speaker2: And we learn to have moments of stillness with ourselves, to think about what do we care about? What brings us the greatest joy? And I think that’s probably where I started, was what would bring me the greatest satisfaction or joy. As crazy and ridiculous as it is. Right. Dream as big as or as small as you want. Maybe all it is is you want to have a little garden in your backyard. Awesome. Maybe it’s world peace. I don’t even know what that means. World peace, right? In charge of world peace. But I started thinking, like, what matters to me? And I think when I was bullied as that kid sort of locked in the cupboard in the classroom. I started to think about, you know, if. If these kids. Just new me a little bit. They wouldn’t hate me so much. That was my belief system in third grade, and they just hated me because the way I looked, because I’m Chinese and it was an all white community in Breckenridge, Colorado. And I started to think about how important it is to really see people and get to know a little bit of their story. Because we’re all human beings, we’re all equal in that way, yet we don’t really. So that’s kind of how I’m wired. Like when I see a homeless person on the on the ground and sleeping or begging or whatever they’re doing, my brain, and maybe because I’m a filmmaker, instantly goes back to them like they like Benjamin Button, like they suddenly start to get younger and younger and younger until they’re in the arms of their mother, perfectly healthy, with the hope of the world ahead of them.

Speaker2: Everything is out there for them to have. And I think. What’s their story like? What happened there? And I have compassion. But to get back to your question about advocacy, I think in order to really be an advocate for anything in life, you’ve got to connect with yourself and learn what’s important to you. And and then look at things that. That serve that feeling? Yes. Yes. And then show up. Volunteer. See how you can help. That’s the other thing is, as much as you may think, I have no money, I have no time. I have no ability to give. You actually do. Hmm. And it might be an idea. It might be a smile. It might be an introduction. But you always have something to give. And if nothing else, you have love to give. And so if you show up and you say, What can I do to help? And if we need this, I’m like, No, I can’t do that. What else do you need? What else could I do? Like, there’s just always a way to help.

Speaker1: Do you want to talk to you about the new project? About just. I’m really excited to learn from you. I feel like we can have, like, a whole second chapter or second podcast on this new film. But do you want to share a little more about what we can expect?

Speaker2: I didn’t want to make a movie that was political, and I didn’t want to do a history lesson. And in a lot of my interviews, I got the history lesson and I got the make sure you add about the health care disparities and the voting disparities and the like. The laundry list was long. Of all the things I needed to include in the film, and it reminded me of when I made like and everyone’s like, I hope you’re going to call out government and the platforms and how they’re abusing their power. And I was just like, No, I don’t do that. I don’t. Those things take too long. Those things I don’t feel like I can affect change. What I feel like I can help people, individuals with is finding a way safely to make change within yourself. And I think to me that’s where I am the most comfortable. So the film is really I go out and I just start filming. Lots of people and people always say, How do you find the people in the movies? I just like I don’t even I put out a call. I’m like, Would you want to talk to me? Sure, I’ll talk to you. What are the questions? I’m not going to tell you the questions. I’m just going to ask you like 20 questions. And you can always say, don’t use it, or I can say it differently or whatever. And I really go around and I film and I just start listening because I don’t know what the script is. I don’t know what the answer is, I don’t know anything.

Speaker2: I’m just collecting information. And through the stories I start to learn what’s happening and I see commonalities. And so I filmed about 100 people. I was in Hong Kong, UK, across the country, Canada, and I started to. Learn about kind of things that are going on. And there’s it’s all straight from the heart. There’s no pre-interview. They don’t see the questions. And then I get in the editing room and we just weave that story together. And grace to be human. I broke it down into chapters because I realized there’s a lot of confusion in the world. Not everybody really understands what allyship is. Not everyone knows what microaggressions are. Some people don’t really quite understand privilege. And and then also what is the true definition of racism? And so breaking it all down and then also like how what can we do? What can the schools do? What can work do? What can you as an individual do? What do you do as a white parent or zero white family living in a white neighborhood and you go to a white school, how are you going to create diversity in your family? How are you going to like introduce cross-racial friendships? We’re going to do right. So, like, I wanted to have that kind of information for families. I want to know, what could schools do right now? Because we know there’s bigger things that have to happen. But what can they do right now, tomorrow to make a positive difference? What can work do? So everything in this movie is low hanging fruit, things that we can do the minute it finishes screening and we’ve had our conversation.

Speaker2: Well, it’s interesting, right? We all want to talk about this. It’s a big conversation. Well, so is angst. So is mental health. And it took six months before anybody booked it because they were afraid. And it is still there. I had two schools in Silicon Valley that. Basically let us know because we were in the working title is just race because I didn’t have the title yet and they said, Oh gosh, too bad. Really interested in your film, but because you’re calling it race, we’d never show it because the title alone, we can’t do that. And it’s like, okay. And then there’s, there’s schools in other parts of the country where over the world that are just like, we can’t open up this conversation. We are not prepared to have it interesting. And some of the parents don’t want it. They’re like, Oh, you’re bringing in critical race theory. I’m like, No, we’re not. It’s, it’s not that. So it’s really interesting, but we’ll see. I do think that there are schools that they they get it and they know they’ve got to show this and they’ve got to open up that conversation. You know why? So people can take a deep breath and they cannot live in so much fear, not living so much fear that the world will never change, not live in so much. Fear that you don’t know how to communicate with someone like this will, I think, open it up to give us permission to be able to have more conversation.

Speaker1: Right. That’s fantastic. And I I’m wondering what an incredible case study on, for example, when you did release angst and the schools and areas that weren’t ready for it. And now this is happening obviously on a very different topic. But, you know, it would be such a fascinating research topic maybe for like a grad program or a doctoral program to examine the communities that are all about it and the ones that aren’t ready for it and how they even follow them on how they begin to start the conversations and when they’re ready for the film and all of that, I would be super interested in that. So that’s that’s fascinating to me.

Speaker2: I think it’s fascinating that we have these words and we don’t really understand where they came from. Think about ring around the Rosie, that little children’s nursery rhyme ring around the Rosie pocketful of posies ashes, ashes. We all fall down. It’s about kids getting which. Which disease was it?

Speaker1: Yeah, I know what you’re talking. And then.

Speaker2: Yeah. And having ashes in their ashes in their pockets to keep the smell of death away and they die. And, and so we’re like having fun singing these songs. We don’t really know the origin. Yes. We go to like we go to Cinco de Mayo and we have margaritas and tacos and chips and everything. But do we really know what we’re celebrating here? We know what is it? Independence, what happened when? What’s the story like? So when we can learn the origin of words, when we can learn the origin of story and people, I think that helps us view the world differently. And I think it also makes our world richer. So being aware of our words, because words create worlds and that’s how we can sort of start. That’s the bottom of the pyramid of hate is communication, early communication, microaggressions. We can start changing things on that level, which we can do. You don’t need money to do that. You don’t need a big program. You don’t need like to train up people. We all need to learn to be more aware of our words. And then I would also add our energy behind the words. Don’t ask if you want to ask someone if you’re curious about someone’s background. A lot of people are like, How do you ask, well, what are you? What are you really? Or Where are you really from? Like that? That’s that’s actually a little offensive. You say, what’s your ethnicity? Super simple. That’s your passport, that’s your that’s your starter sentence. And then ask it with curiosity, not fear or judgment. And so, like the energy behind your words is also incredibly important, just like in sexual harassment, right? Oh, you look nice. Oh, you look nice, right? Like right. It’s a different energy and height. There were things. I don’t think we can have rules where you’re not allowed to say these things. There’s different times that it’s totally fine. Yeah. What’s the context and what’s the energy? Where’s the where’s the dignity? Where’s the respect? Where’s the kindness? Like that has to be woven into all of it.

Speaker1: Yes. That’s such a great point about what’s your energy, what’s the kindness behind it?

Speaker2: I’m always a fan of when there’s a challenge to what feels like sometimes a blatant violation or abuse or something. It is an opportunity so long as it’s safe, right? There is an opportunity. Stop. Take a breath. Collect yourself and use it as an opportunity to teach. It’s just it’s like with parents when you find out your kid’s a bully, right? Oh, my God. No, they’re not. Whatever you go in the defense. Yeah. Drop. Collect yourself. Go in. Tell them how much you love them and what you love about them and then say, Are you okay? What’s going on? It’s true. And I also think, like, even just in this whole, like the racism conversation. Yeah, it’s not just white people that need to be patient. It is everyone that needs to be patient. And I know people of color have been more than patient their whole lives. Right? I’m one of them. Mm hmm. But why stop now? Right. When we have an opportunity, we’re talking about it more than ever. We have technology to continue to keep the conversation going. Why? Why stop now? Why say I’ve had a lifetime of it now? I’m not going to anymore. Like. No, sorry. That’s our life. We’ve got to keep being patient because now more people are open to it. Having this conversation and moving forward. Let’s make a change. Don’t get tired and give up now, like, you know, it’s and it seems like an unfair ask, but I think it’s important that we continue and we continue to move forward together.

Speaker1: Well, thank you for the.

Speaker2: Film.

Speaker1: And helping people to continue to move forward, especially on the school level, the education level where you are creating that systemic change from. I really believe in that social emotional education at the younger levels that will carry them throughout their lives. And so I’m really grateful for this film and the others that you’ve produced and and put out there and start these conversations. And I can’t wait to see the ripple effect of this of this film. Where can people find it? How do they get on board with everything?

Speaker2: Well, you can always go to Netflix and you can find it there. You like to learn about how you can see it. We’re going to create a lot of different ways for people to access it. Of course, we always want it to be surrounded with some form of community or conversation. I am going to I’m putting together a tour to go to the public, some of the public libraries in the country. I’ll be going to some theatres as well. Schools, corporations. So it’ll be sort of disseminated through. Like if it’s if a particular corporation is showing it, then those employees and their families will have access. If it’s showing at a college, the college licenses it, all the students will have access if it’s like. So we’ve made it. Our tools now are so much more evolved. We’re able to deliver the entire program and this wonderful experience with all the materials. And so it’s it will be accessible. You just can’t go to Netflix and watch it by yourself in your living room.

Speaker1: Right. No, I think this is going to be so great and I’m going to follow the journey and post a lot about it and get it out there as much as I can. As well as. Yeah, of course. I mean, I really believe in it. And I know I just kind of hit like such a tiny, tiny thing, but it was on my mind and I have so much to learn. Just as we close up, I have three rapid fire questions that I’ve been asking everyone. And so the first one, it’s funny that they’re rapid fire because their big question, the first one is, what is your purpose or motivation for change?

Speaker2: Because that’s life. Life is changing anyway. It never nothing is stagnant. You don’t like the weather, it’ll change. So I just like in the flow. I’m just with it. I’m not fighting.

Speaker1: It. Love it. Love it. The next one is what are your well being tips? So many people that are change agents get burnt out and have to take some time or whatnot. But do you have some tips?

Speaker2: Who’s our audience?

Speaker1: This would be mainly millennials and mainly millennials. Yep.

Speaker2: I’m a big meditator and I’m a big walker, so I love to meditate, I love to walk, I love to watch TV still. And occasionally I like a good martini and I’m a big time game player. I play a lot of I’m very competitive and I love to play games and I love to laugh. What’s your favorite.

Speaker1: Game?

Speaker2: Right now, I’m really into Rubik’s Cube and salad bowl, which is kind of like it’s a little bit like 100,000 pyramid only. You play with groups.

Speaker1: Oh, interesting. I grew up playing Yahtzee with my grandma and it’s still my favorite. My kids are like, This is boring. No, I love Yahtzee.

Speaker2: I love Yahtzee. Cribbage, gin. Gin rummy. Like, I love games.

Speaker1: That’s great. And then the last one is, how can I, meaning those of us that are listening make an impact in whether it’s our communities or our social groups or maybe at large.

Speaker2: I think everybody’s community is different, so. But always do something that you’re comfortable with, right? Like you don’t have to push yourself out of your comfort zone and go do something that you would never want to do. Right? Like do something that you get joy out of and and do push yourself out of your comfort zone. Meaning, like try new things. And sometimes the simplest things honestly, like whether it’s picking up trash on the side of the road. I have in the old days we don’t anymore. I have fed someone’s meter. You know when you could do that? Oh, my gosh, that’s cool. I’ve given a little money to or advice to people living on the streets. I’ve never done the thing where you pay for the person behind you, but sometimes you can do some sort of just start with good deeds, right? Like it feels good. And it kind of it creates this chemical release on the brain and you start to it kind of becomes addictive. And then you’re like, What else can I do? And then it’s okay to, you know, it’s so funny at Thanksgiving. Like, I want to take kids all down to, like, work in the mission. Well, they didn’t need any help. It was just like, wow, okay, so you got to, like, try new things, see how you can be supportive. And even if all you do is once and be really just be kind to people, smile, look them in the eye, say thank you. People are always like this, and the door opens for them and they just walk through and they’re not. They’re not noticing how wonderful people are around them.

Speaker1: Mm hmm. That’s great. Notice how wonderful people are around you.

Speaker2: Acknowledge them, see them, thank them. Say, you know, like be polite. Manners are big.

Speaker1: Yes, you can tell. I live in LA when I got excited. Yes.

Speaker2: Feed the change, feed the meter.

Speaker1: Prevent the parking ticket. But anyway, Sheila, thank you so much for all of your insights and for what you do. And like I said, we’re going to link to all the things that you’re doing and continue to get the word out about these films that are really creating sustainable change for young people and then rippling through their families that make such an impact. So thank you for your time.

Speaker2: Well, thank you so much, Brie. It was so nice to see you again. And yeah, well, I’m sure we’ll be visiting again. I got you on the horizon.

Speaker1: Okay, good. Hi, everyone. This is Brie Jensen from the Social Impact podcast. I want to say a huge thank you for those of you that joined us today and maybe you’ve been following along through every episode. This was episode seven of our first season. So huge, huge. Thank you. To those of you that are new to us and that are following on social media as well as sharing out and commenting. If you are looking for any kind of support when it comes to business consulting, business coaching, or you’re looking for some digital wellbeing help, we have a social media and digital wellbeing for our kids workshop on the website as well as coaching and consulting for you social impact business. So please go to the Social Impact Echo and feel free to reach out for a free consultation or find that workshop. Also, you can find me on social media at BRI Underscore Jensen Underscore. I love hearing from you and all that you’re doing to make an impact in this world next time on the social. On Impact podcast. I’m talking with three of my incredibly close friends. We are all social entrepreneurs from all over the world, and we’re going to be talking about what it’s like to be a social entrepreneur the fun times, the hard times and all the times. So I will see you next week on the Social Impact Podcast. Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss a thing.

 

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