Filming at the Social Venture Network Conference

My trip to La Jolla, CA last week to film at the Social Venture Network Conference was both tiring svnlogoand inspiring. Thanks to Conscious Planet Media, who were visionary sponsors of the event, my fellow filmmaker Karl and I had the chance to fly there to cover the event. I knew, from editing footage of their last conference back in Spring, that it was going to be an extraordinary experience brimming with opportunities to talk to and learn from some of the accomplished people in the world of socially responsible business. I was simply bursting with excitement!

We hopped onto the 5.30am flight from O’Hare and hit the ground running bright and early as soon as we touched down in San Diego. I was blown away by the beauty of the Estancia, La Jolla as our cab pulled up in front of the lobby and we were greeted by their friendly staff. And yes, hello 70-degree weather! ;) But as much as I’d have loved to enjoy the resort, we had a lot of setting up to do. We whipped out our lights, set up both cameras – one on a riser, the other on a spiderpod – and ran a sound check. All set and ready to go!

evan shapiroSpeaking at the opening address that night was Evan Shapiro, president of IFC tv and the Sundance Channel, who spoke of why diversity in the workplace is essential for sustainability. I like how he takes this challenge on by working with students. “When you are hungry you can’t go plant a seed,” said Evan, indicating that we can’t wait till we post job openings to start looking. The key is to start instilling an interest in your future workforce when they’re still young. When we had the opportunity to tell him about how we wanna create positive social change with our media and asked how we might extend our reach, his advice was that we needed to make our stuff entertaining. Entertain your audience first, then feed them the socially conscious message second. Hmm. Shall keep that in mind for future projects.

The breakout session with Amy Goodman, news journalist and host of the award winning news amy goodmanoutlet Democracy Now!, was also very relevant to what we do. She spoke about the importance of having independent media because we are too often denied the truth when we watch media funded by oil companies or other big corporations that play gatekeepers for what gets reported. True that, Amy! Independent media companies like CPM, who’s extremely careful about the message we put out and what kind of companies sponsor our events to make sure we stick to the mission. All in all a great session! Glad her new book, Breaking the Sound Barrier, came free in our goodie bags. Shall look forward to learning from it. Even though i was able to get in close proximity to her because i hadta put a lavalier mic on her, she couldn’t stop to chat as she was whisked away quickly outside to avoid the big crowd jostling to meet her.

arianna huffingtonThe keynote speaker for the event was Arianna Huffington, the co-founder of The Huffington Post, who’s also written 12 books. She was a lady of intelligence and grace, and spoke with a fiery passion against what bothered her most about things going on in the mainstream media. She ridiculed the amount of coverage that was given to balloon boy, saying “create a giant balloon & put all the homeless children in there. Then, the media will care.” She stayed on briefly after the speech to talk to people, but politely turned down my interview request, saying that she had to leave soon because her daughter was sick. I respect that though… with a schedule like hers where she’s speaking in a different state at different events almost everyday, it’s no wonder she had to rush off. When i asked an SVN organizer how early they had to book Arianna to come speak, she said it was more than a year in advance. Woah.

Also pretty awesome was the SVN Innovation Award Ceremony where 5 winners were selected from a pool of emerging enterprise leaders for their great work. Read more about the winners here.

All in all, it was a tremendous learning experience for me. It’s incredibly humbling just being in the same room as 300 of the world’s movers and shakers. I cannot wait to edit a great video from the footage we’ve gathered. And I definitely hope for the opportunity to return to the next SVN Conference! :)

Playing for Change


If there’s one thing I can turn to for warmth and comfort for the soul, especially with the plummeting temperatures here in Chicago, Playing for Change is it. This is a wonderful organization i came across a year ago that brings the world together through the universal language of music. To record a guitarist in 1 country, a drummer in another, and a trumpeter, a saxophonist, a choir in many more and then put them together into 1 music piece… that’s both brilliant and beautiful.

So what started out as a cool music project 4 years ago is now helping to raise funds to promote music education through the Playing for Change Foundation. Just in spring, they opened the doors to their first completed music school in South Africa! Now that’s music to my ears!

See and hear the magic for yourself!

It’s inspired me to try a mini-version of my own when i return home to Singapore too… how awesome would it be to bring together the musicians and street buskers of Singapore? From little drummer Ethan Ong to the uncle who’s been playing the keyboards in the Orchard Road tunnel for decades… oh, the possibilities! How exciting!

The Social Venture Network

I was very fortunate to have been asked to edit the footage my bosses shot at The Social Venture Network Conference back in Spring. Sure, it meant sitting through hours of speeches and forum discussions, but i loved every minute of it. I learned so much from hearing the country’s pioneers of socially responsible businesses discussing and debating issues. It was absolutely exciting to see the CEOs of companies like Stonyfield Farms and Honest Tea – brands of products i have in my refrigerator – dispensing advice and sharing their business experiences. Definitely one of the most enjoyable pieces I’ve edited.

Witness the power of collaboration as the country’s pioneers of socially responsible business come together to discuss and debate issues, to inspire and aid business growth, and to build lasting friendships. The Social Venture Network is your connection to knowledge and resources from a community of the most innovative social entrepreneurs on the planet.

Edited as part of my work for Conscious Planet Media.

Project Green HEALS part I…

I spent this summer following 98 Chicago Public School students from 25 different high schools as they embarked on an eye-opening program. Join Conscious Planet Media as we show you how the students engaged in both classroom and hands-on learning, and became catalysts to the powerful green movement.

Project Green HEALS part I shows you a quick overview of their journey. I shot and edited this as part of my work for Conscious Planet Media.