How to unearth truly authentic stories and make content that matters

By Trak Ellis Hill

At Mofilm, our belief is that many voices are better than one when it comes to telling meaningful, relevant, diverse stories that matter. So when we launched our new filmmaking initiative earlier this year it wasn’t difficult naming it: MANY VOICES is about giving a platform to filmmakers from all backgrounds and cultures, to uncover and document different views and opinions and perspectives. Our first brief was fairly open, asking what the ‘year of women’ means to people in different parts of the world. Honestly? I wasn’t sure how it would play out. I hoped we would unearth from our global community of 10,000 content creators, interesting filmmakers with important stories to tell. I hoped we would raise up and provide a stage for unheard voices. I hoped we would challenge perceptions and make people think differently about someone different to them. The ideas that came our way, from the simple to the sophisticated, the provocative to the perverse, and from every continent, each presented neatly in a 60” pitch to camera, BLEW – ME – A – WAY.


It’s important to say that our filmmakers interpreted the brief in unique ways. Typically, at Mofilm, we’re working with brands to define a specific and single-minded creative brief but, on this occasion, we gave our filmmakers a big theme and left it wide open. In response, they put forward a swathe of fantastically distinct stories to tell and wonderfully interesting ways to tell them; but it didn’t make our job choosing between the filmmaker pitches particularly easy! And so arose the need and opportunity to form a selection committee; a group with cultural relevance stitched into their DNA, to help us decide which three ideas we should commission.

Our committee included Unilever’s Global Exec VP of Marketing Aline Santos Farhat, Ballantine’s Global Marketing Director Patrick Venning, TV and film director Tope Oshin, cofounder of The Other Box Roshni Goyate, and cofounder of One Young World Kate Robertson. All of whom helped form a terrific line up I’m grateful wanted to be involved. After shortlisting 15 bold and beautiful ideas from the hundreds we received, we sent the pitch videos and reels from these chosen few to our esteemed and opinionated committee. Every one of them was as bowled over by the pitches as I was and, armed with their views to inform the final decision, we were resolute in a final decision.


I’m not going to give away too much about our three commissioned filmmakers or their films at this stage – it would ruin the big reveal! I can tell you we have a young filmmaker from South Africa with a unique style, an experienced director from the US with a beautiful aesthetic to their work, and an animator from the UK with a uniquely personal story to tell. Each film takes us on a journey into a different world, to help us see things from a very different perspective.

These talented and ambitious filmmakers will not only get the funding they need, each will also have support from Mofilm throughout the creative and production processes to help them make the very best films they can and to do justice to the important stories they’re about to share with the world. I’m truly excited to see their final films before the summer is out; my heart and mind are open and I’ve stocked up on popcorn. We’ll let you know as soon as they’re ready for you to watch, too.


I’m proud to say we had a great many female filmmakers submitting their ideas for this brief: I guess, given the subject matter, that may be no coincidence. It didn’t hurt that we had support from our friends at Free The Bid, the wonderful organisation advocating for more opportunities for female directors, who not only added director Elisha Smith-Leverock to our selection committee but who also shared our brief across their global network. Interestingly, many male directors also pitched us ways to tell meaningful stories about women; one of our chosen filmmakers stood out among the male contingent because of his sensitive approach, which negates him merely appropriating or exploiting a female story and instead has him playing the role ‘the listener’. Ultimately, Mofilm has commissioned three new and different stories to be told by a diverse and creatively compelling trio of filmmakers, and, despite it being their hard work and vision that got them here, we’re all patting ourselves on the back.


Many Voices isn’t a brand-driven initiative, but it showcases how Mofilm can tap into local creators anywhere in the world; to not only drive creativity through divergent thinking, but also to discover meaningful insights, tell authentic stories, and reflect the real interests, struggles, and lives of specific audiences. Diversity is certainly the word of the moment, and it’s not always easy to get right, but brands should be leaning into it – because it’s the right thing to do, because it makes good business sense, and because it makes content richer, truer, and more relevant.


I’m so happy for the overwhelmingly positive response we’ve had from our filmmaker community, and the general appetite for the initiative and what it represents. Since I already know the films we’ve commissioned will be outstanding and will get people talking, my last hope for this inaugural Many Voices brief is that it inspires all the filmmakers who pitched us an idea to find another way to get their films made and tell those important stories they shared with us: we are here to support them however we can.

In the meantime, watch this space for three special films about what this ‘year of women’ means in three different parts of the world.


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