Have you heard of Reliance Foundation, HDFC Parivartan, Tech Mahindra Foundation etc? These are all the CSR arms of three of the major corporates within India. The question that arises is what exactly is Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR? It is a term we see and hear being used in relation to many companies, but how many of us know what it actually is?
According to the Companies Act 2013, it is mandatory for every company to allocate 2 percent of its annual net profits as funds for societal welfare. Corporate Social Responsibility refers to the usage of these funds for the betterment of society. The CSR arms of corporates focus on bringing change to the society through various projects catering to sustainability, education, employability among others. It’s also a way to attract and create a positive business impact as it portrays the company in a compassionate light.
But the question arises how will it create an impact when if these efforts aren’t seen by the masses? This is where corporate video production comes into play with the creation of CSR Films. Unlike other forms of corporate films, CSR films aren’t about products or the business ethics of a company. They are all about capturing and showcasing the transformation a company has brought to the society by themselves or by partnering with NGOs.
There are various key elements that need to be kept in mind while filming a CSR film and each corporate production company has its own approach towards it. As a Corporate Video Production company that is adept at CSR films, here are the elements that we feel are extremely crucial for a CSR film.
The subjects of these films are usually the beneficiaries that have benefitted from a corporate’s CSR project. These people mostly belong to the lower rungs of the social ladder and have been shunned or ignored by the society, so each person involved in the filming process needs to make an emotional connect with them. Since CSR films are all about realism, one needs to work from the ground level in order to bring that emotional aspect to the screen. Therefore, CSR filmmakers try to empathize and live in the shoes of their subjects and have to understand their struggles and how the intervention of the corporate has brought a major change into their life. The same goes for identifying with a cause, be it environmental, developmental, health, sustainability among others. If the filmmakers are unable to associate with a particular cause, they won’t be able to express it as passionately on screen. Connecting to the people and the cause doesn’t just provide an insight into the minds of the people but also helps them feel comfortable in your presence which is exactly what you will need if you want to capture raw and unfiltered emotions.
The main motive of CSR films is to create awareness, portray the transformation a brand has brought through visuals and voiceover. This is why the script and voiceover of a CSR film is created after proper due research upon the root problem, how rampant it is along with the necessary details about the corporate and its projects which have made an immense contribution towards the cause and helped in the upliftment of the people. The script for a CSR film needs to inform people about hard facts, ask the right questions, elucidate the right examples and showcase the corporate’s projects in a revolutionary perspective that blends well with the visuals. All this just to tug at the hearts of the prospective viewers.
An example of the emotive flow of the voiceover lies in the CSR movie we created for Reliance Foundation: Back to Roots 2.0 with Reliance Foundation with Jubin Nautiyal
Unlike brand films and advertisements Corporate Social Responsibility films are not upbeat. To portray these grassroot level stories, one has to take the emotional approach, one that moves the audience and makes a lasting impact upon them. The visuals need to appeal to the more humane side of the masses while creating awareness about the problems and what a particular organization is doing to make a difference in their lives. Film production companies that are well versed with the art of CSR ensure that their visuals touch the core of the audience whilst projecting the brand in a more altruistic light.
An example of a CSR film: Jobs We Make: Asha’s Story
You might have the script in hand, the company has relayed all the requirements to the team as well as the beneficiaries but not everything goes according to plan. Sometimes you are on a tight schedule and a beneficiary might be busy on that particular day. Sometimes the angle you decided upon is just not as emotive as you want it to be. Sometimes, there is no transportation available at the moment. What do you do during such moments? You need to be spontaneous. You have to visualize on the spot, adjust and make do with whatever is available at hand. And through our experience that includes riding a bullock cart, running through farms, casually sitting beside a cow as a woman speaks while milking it, among others. But hey, nobody said that filmmaking was an easy job.
Films are not made for the filmmakers; they are meant for the masses and at the end of the day everything depends upon the response of the audience. Each video production company vies to become the one that stirs the masses while educating them through their stories. CSR films are all about impact and information. If a CSR film forces the majority of the people to view a corporate in a positive humanitarian light while calling them to take action towards the cause itself, it is considered a success and that success is what leaves filmmakers satisfied. This is what they count as a reward for all the hard work they put in.
An example of an informative CSR is the one we created for Microsoft India. Watch it here – Digi Saksham: Microsoft India for Ministry of Labour and Employment
As a film production house, this was our take on filming good CSR films. Just in case, our movies fail to satiate your hunger, here are a few more examples of the best CSR movies that even we get inspired from.
CSR films are necessary for all corporates in the present era as nothing works better for the masses than a company that sells products but also cares about the development and sustenance of the society on the whole. A good CSR film can get a company placed among the best corporates of the world, projecting them globally. The reason behind this is, a good CSR movie doesn’t have to have a large budget, what it requires is an innovative idea which speaks to the audience and makes it stand out among the rest. And that is the most imperative of all, isn’t it?