TEDxAthens 2011 Talks – Sebastian Lindstrom
“What Took You So Long to make films Disruptive?”
By Sebastian Lindstrom
Now in its 3rd year, TEDxAthens is the second biggest of the 2700 independently organized TED events that are organized around the world. Bringing some much-needed positive energy to a country wracked by economic woes, the theme of this year’s TEDx event was disruption. From politics to storm chasing to filmmaking – how do we change the rules of the game?
I was invited to discuss disruptive filmmaking, a term coined by Dimitri, one of the curators of TEDxAthens. As co-founder and executive director of What Took You So Long, I travel around the world making documentary films about untold stories in less traveled regions. In order to get the best out of the challenging environments we work in, my team and I embrace a process called “guerilla filmmaking”.
Guerrilla filmmaking is disruptive to the process of filmmaking in introducing and embracing inconvenience. Inconvenience offers new opportunities by slowing you down and forcing you to reflect. We film without location permits or cars or hotels. Instead, we choose to live with the people we film, embrace their food and customs, and develop relationships organically with them and their stories. In embracing inconvenience we remain open to collaboration with local participants and volunteers from around the world.
Inconvenience in the structured world of filmmaking is hugely disruptive, both to the everyday workings of a film crew but also to the theory that underpins filmmaking. It’s something we wouldn’t trade for truckloads of equipment, or shiny SUVs to drive us to the bush villages as it teaches us discipline, humility, and brings depth and authenticity to the kind of documentary film we produce.
TEDx Athens hoped to disrupt at least the feelings of discontent that are topping headlines and gossiping through coffee shops. With a thousand people in the crowd, thousands more watching over live-stream, and speakers such as Joe Trippi, the man who introduced social media to US politics, and Rory Sutherland, advertising executive extraordinaire, TEDx at least distracted with a few hours of inspiration. Personally, I have new hope for a better future for Greece after spending time amidst such wonderful and creative energy in the Greek capital city. As I shared with my friends in Athens at the close of my speech, please, embrace the future and stay disruptive.