Clarence Dass wins World TV Award – and his audience – at Asia Media Summit 2013

L to R - Moneeza Hashmi (Jury chair), Clarence Dass, Young-Woo Park (Regional Director, UNEP), Yang Binyuan (AIBD Director)

L to R – Moneeza Hashmi (Jury chair), Clarence Dass, Young-Woo Park (Regional Director, UNEP), Yang Binyuan (AIBD Director)

Fijian filmmaker and broadcaster Clarence Dass is a star at Asia Media Summit 2013 in Manado, Indonesia, this week.

First, he won the coveted World TV Award in the Science and Environment category, for his futuristic, dramatized film titled “A Day at the Beach” made for and broadcast by Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (FBC) TV.

That earned him US$ 5,000 prize money, a trophy and a certificate – as well as an all expenses paid trip to Manado, where he just collected them in front of 350 broadcast managers and professionals from across Asia Pacific.

To top it up, he then spoke passionately and articulately during a session on taking action for sustainable development: how can media help?

While TV productions are all team work, public speaking is a solo art. Coming last of five panelists and youngest among them, Clarence made the most perceptive and practical remarks of all.

I maybe a bit biased, because he is an alumnus of a regional training workshop on ozone and media issues that I helped conduct in February in Kuala Lumpur. At the end of that workshop, we asked all participants to go home and make short films to enter for this year’s World TV Award.

Clarence would have done well in any case. Now in his early 30s, he has been active in Fiji media since 2001, having started in newspapers as a music journalist, before moving onto radio presenting/producing and then TV production.

He is very digitally savvy, but as his panel remarks showed, also people savvy.

“Today, we have to produce media on-the-go for people who are constantly on the go,” he said. “We have to find ways to bring sustainable development elements into this.”

In “A Day at the Beach”, Clarence imagines a futuristic, climate ravaged Fiji and the Pacific in 2063. A young girl asks: did it have to be this way? Wasn’t there something earlier generations could do?

A bit evocative of The Age of Stupid movie (2009), which I had mentioned during our training. But it’s a universal theme.

Clarence offered some advice from his station’s experience. Key among them is to mix information with entertainment, so as to attract and sustain audiences who are constantly distracted these days.

“As Fiji’s national broadcaster, we provide info-tainment and edu-tainment programmes all the time,” he said.

Clarence Dass speaks on sustainable development how can media help at Asia Media Summit 29 May 2013

Clarence Dass speaks on sustainable development how can media help at Asia Media Summit 29 May 2013

Other nuggets of wisdom from the amiable Pacific islander:

* Always ask for whom we are creating content. Knowing and profiling our audience is essential.

* We must make our content engaging. We need to find the right level so our programming appeals to both between laymen and experts.

* Beware of using too many effects and gimmicks, which can dilute the message. How much creativity is too much? Every producer has to ask that question.

* Small scale broadcasters in developing countries have to make content interesting on very limited budgets. Funding is a huge issue. But if managed properly, limited funds can still be made to go a long way.

A Day at the Beach Trailer

Viterbo Memorandum by Greenaccord: Time to act on climate crisis is NOW!

Renaissance period Domus La Quercia, venue of Greenaccord 2009 forum

“We know the climate is changing, probably as a result of humanity’s pollution; species are disappearing fast; deforestation is rampant; over-fishing is rife; water shortages are increasing; resource consumption is growing and so is the world’s population.

“…If this catastrophe unfolds, historians will look back and ask how that was allowed to happen with so little media debate. They may wonder what stories journalists were telling while the world was transformed around them.”

Those words are not new. In fact, they were part of the statement of concern issued at the end of the First International Media Forum organised by Greenaccord of Italy and held in Rapolano, Siena, Italy, in late 2003. I was one of 100+ journalists from all over the world who signed that original “Green Accord” for Journalists.

This year’s internationally acclaimed British climate film The Age of Stupid is based on a similar premise. This ambitious drama-documentary-animation hybrid features an old man living in the climate devastated world of 2055 AD, watching the ‘archive’ news footage from 2008 — and asking: “Why didn’t we stop climate change while we had the chance?”

The 7th Greenaccord international forum, held in the central Italian city of Viterbo from 25 – 29 November 2009, has just ended calling upon world leaders to “draw a road map being a binding agreement for a total de-carbonization of world economy before 2050”.

Addressed to the UN climate conference opening in Copenhagen in a few days’ time, the forum’s final document – called the Viterbo Memorandum – urged that no more time be lost.

The Greenaccord forum’s theme this year was ‘Climate is changing: stories, facts and people’. Over five days, some 130 of us from 55 countries – drawn from all continents – stayed at the historic residence of Domus La Quercia in Viterbo, discussing and debating about the challenges faces by our warming planet, and how we as communicators can make a difference. It is what I recently called the Ultimate Race between education and catastrophe.

The Viterbo Memorandum pledged: “On their own side, they (journalists and scientists) vow to cooperate in order to spread correct information on the risk related to climate change and to make aware the public opinion on the need of individual contribution to the solution of problems by modifying their own life style.”

The Memorandum is to be delivered in early December 2009 to Dr Rajendra Pachauri, the Nobel Peace Prize winning Chairman of the UN’s climate panel, the IPCC.

Professor Andrea Masullo, President of Greenaccord’s Scientific Committee, said: “I don’t want our children and grandchildren, in 2050, finding themselves on a planet inhabited by more than 9 billion people and devastated by climate change, re-reading the scientific reports of today…to ask themselves what we were thinking and why we did not do anything when everything that was going to happen was clear.”

He added: ”In recent years the changes are progressing much faster than expected in the fourth IPCC report. Nevertheless, it seems that Copenhagen will not come again to a final agreement. Many governments feel they can take initiatives costly and complicated the current economic crisis. ”

Launched in 2003, the Greenaccord Forums have emerged as one of the largest annual gatherings of environmental journalists, broadcasters and activists at global level. As an organisation, Greenaccord aims to be an international “virtual table” open to all professionals in information and communication who want to deepen understanding about environment and its protection with their work.

I have been returning to Greenaccord’s annual forums the first one in 2003 – and always return with my knowledge updated and friendships renewed. This year was no exception.

Photos courtesy Yu-Tzu Chiu and Greenaccord

Nalaka Gunawardene at Greenaccord 2009 - Photo by Yu-Tzu Chiu

One minute to midnight — or just one minute to save the world?

How much can you pack into 60 seconds?

How much can you pack into 60 seconds?

How much can you pack in to one minute, or 60 seconds? That’s a lot of air time, as broadcasters and advertisers know very well.

One Minute to Midnight‘ has been a favourite metaphor of dooms-dayers – and is the title of a 2008 book. It was widely used in relation to the world drawing closer to nuclear war during the second half of the 20th century.

Now, as global climate change surpasses fears of global nuclear war, we are given just one minute to save the world.

One Minute to Save the World is an international short film competition to raise awareness of climate change. Entries are currently being sought from professionals and amateurs, with 31 October 2009 as the deadline. There is also a category for under 18s and for entries shot on mobile phones.

The idea is to enable anyone, anywhere, to deliver a short but powerful message to the world on climate change. The winning films will be sent around the world in November as an online campaign to raise awareness of the Copenhagen Climate Conference in December 2009.

Good planets are hard to find...

Good planets are hard to find...

British TV presenter and adventurer Bruce Parry, a founder of the competition, says: “Together we will be looking for films that convey a powerful message about how climate change affects you and those around you. Were you a flood victim? Have you seen a change in the plants and wildlife in your garden? How has your world been affected and how can we address it?

He adds: “So, we hope you’ll all get thinking and shooting – whether you’re a seasoned pro or just someone who cares. Your planet needs you and your talents. One minute might not seem like a long time but it’s actually longer than many advertisers spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on. It’s also an easy length of time to hold people’s attention. And that is one of the things we urgently need to do if we’re going to turn things around for our planet before it’s too late.”

The winning entries will be judged by an international panel that includes Parry himself, award-winning director and climate change activist Shekhar Kapur; Franny Armstrong, director of Age of Stupid and The Guardian‘s environment editor John Vidal.

The website will become an online film festival which requires no travel or celebrity status to attend – all you need is access to a computer. “And as everyone knows, the power of the net can make the most unexpected video attract the attention of millions globally,” says Bruce Parry.

Read Bruce Parry on One Minute to Save the World

One Minute to Save the World competition rules and more info

Watch entries on YouTube