Video stills from ‘The Perennial Plate’ documentary series.
After the election of President Donald Trump, filmmaker Daniel Klein felt compelled to resist.
It was a feeling many progressives in the U.S. had as Trump came to lead the country — a man who was elected on a platform that insulted and demonized at-risk communities. In response, Klein and his team behind the award-winning food documentary series The Perennial Plate wanted to switch gears, and channel their skills and passion into something good.
"I believe that if you are able, then it is your obligation to do what you love and to use it to positively impact the world," he said.
Now, Klein and his team have put their previous project on hold to create Resistance Through Storytelling, a series of five short films highlighting people particularly affected by the new administration: refugees and immigrants living in the U.S. The new initiative will tell real, positive stories of these communities — but to make a difference, the filmmakers knew their vision had to target a specific audience.
"We didn’t want to preach to the choir. We wanted actual impact," Klein said. "Getting films in front of an audience that was different from ourselves was key."
So the team plans to put these films in front of a conservative audience — the exact audience that probably doesn’t want to see them. And they’re using targeted Facebook ads to do it.
Through Facebook advertising, the team plans to post the videos and "boost" them with paid promotion. The social platform will allow them to pinpoint people who live in red states and who "like" conservative-leaning pages. For example, the team could target people living in Michigan who like Senator John McCain’s Facebook page, putting the films in their News Feeds to reach an entirely new audience.
To help engage this unconventional audience, Klein is hoping to draw viewers in by focusing on a universal topic: food. Each film will highlight one specific immigrant family eating dinner.
"We wanted to find some themes that resonate with all Americans, not just liberals or conservatives," he said. "This series will focus on eating together as a family. Almost every culture has this tradition, and we think it is a great jumping off point for finding common ground."
The Resistance Through Storytelling team, which comprises Klein and fellow filmmakers Mirra Fine and Hunter Johnson, is currently raising money on Kickstarter to help fund the project.
As of Wednesday, the campaign raised more than $15,000 of its $50,000 goal. Half of the amount raised will go to expenses in researching, filming, and editing the film. The other half will be be used to fund its "targeted viewership campaign" through Facebook advertising.
The filmmakers also want to make a pilot out of the short films, with plans to pitch the idea as a series to Amazon, Netflix, and PBS to expand their reach.
Image: Courtesy of the Perennial Plate
Daniel Klein (left) with his wife and filmmaking partner, Mirra Fine, and their daughter.
Any additional funding beyond the goal will enable the team to tell more stories, and expand the reach of the targeted advertising. There are no rewards and no gimmicky incentives for the campaign — just impact.
"The reward for this project is … creating positive change by connecting people who wouldn’t have otherwise ‘met’ an immigrant or refugee," the Kickstarter page reads. "The more money we can put towards that, the more people we will reach. We love swag as much as anyone, but I hope you understand that this is why we aren’t offering T-shirts and pins."
Image: CoUrtesy of thE Perennial Plate
The team doesn’t yet know which countries the immigrant and refugee families in the series will originate from, but they’re passionate about shining a light on families with different backgrounds and experiences.
"We know that every family has a story, so there will be no shortage of possibilities," Klein said.
He did add, however, that they’re passionate about including a Somali-American family, since the team lives in Minneapolis where many Somalis live. They also want to include the story of a third- or fourth-generation European family to highlight how most families in the U.S. originate from immigrant backgrounds.
"By telling real stories, we are embracing an America that welcomes and tries to understand others — the opposite of what we see the administration doing," Klein said. "In these times, such simple acts as listening and learning are an act of resistance."