More Than a Production Company
NMAP was founded to use video to get the voices and stories of survivors into courtrooms, legislative proceedings, and other halls of power, and we remain committed to this mission today. Our legislative advocacy videos are created for use in a particular case or campaign, with legal and political institutions as the target audiences.
For instance, we successfully used video to get witness testimony of pesticide abuses before the UNFAO—an international body that doesn’t accept direct witness testimony, but does allow for a range of video submissions through the complaint mechanism in the International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management.
No other organization within the human rights movement specializes in this sophisticated merging of law and media.
Our empowerment projects use visual storytelling to translate the language of legal and legislative institutions for lay audiences, helping communities understand their rights and defend themselves from abuse.
Our Beneath the Surface series is a prime example of how visual storytelling can mobilize and educate communities. The series captures stories and practical advice from rural communities around the world that have been impacted by large scale mining projects. We then take these stories into other rural communities where mining is slated to begin.
By using video to connect communities with experience fighting mining with communities who need advice and tactics, Beneath the Surface creates a sense of global solidarity, while empowering and activating communities to prevent environmental and human rights abuses.
Production is only half the battle. To achieve real impact and meet our partners’ advocacy goals, the media we produce has to make its way to its target audiences, and that requires a thoughtful distribution strategy. We work with our partners from the outset of the project to create a comprehensive approach to distribution that aligns with their audiences and advocacy goals.
We then create the media and the strategy to suit the platform and the target audiences. In countries where the government or other repressive entities control the narratives that get told through traditional media outlets, we also work to identify alternative distribution platforms for public advocacy, from social media to smartphone apps like WhatsApp.
We help craft messaging, create shareable social kits and targeted social ads, compile multimedia press kits, donate mobile screening kits for rural audiences, and much more. Whatever the strategy, we believe it has to be directly connected to measurable goals and outcomes tied to concrete advocacy efforts.
A Human Rights Movement for the 21st Century
NMAP helps human rights advocates tell stories rather than convey messages, and this strategy is at the heart of the problem we work to solve: Whoever tells the best story wins, and too often civil society lacks the capacity to tell stories strategically—whether for a jury or the public. This is an age-old problem, but it’s taken on a new complexity in the 21st Century, whether in the form of fake news or the restructuring of media distribution. We help the civil society organizations that comprise the human rights movement meet these 21st Century challenges head on—by reframing human rights. Reframing human rights is a concept that describes our work and visualizes the change we work to see in two areas:
- Civil society must shift its storytelling from message-centric to audience-centric, considering not just the best argument but the best to persuasion for the audience.
- Video and emerging media are vital tools for legal empowerment, and for connecting communities to share vital lessons and strategies.
To accomplish this vision, we conduct media trainings, where we work with grassroots advocates around the world, covering topics like hosting community screenings; creating media-based advocacy strategies; using social platforms to share your work and messaging more effectively; using multimedia to teach community activists about legal advocacy techniques, and more.
We provide production support and mentoring to professionals and activists in the civil society sector on storytelling techniques that confront narrative biases on human rights topics. As part of this, we engage in coalition building, where we gather groups of organizations working on the same topic to help them create a unified message and strategy, and to better understand how they can take advantage of new forms of media to circumvent government controlled narratives.
NMAP is also experimenting with emerging media technology (virtual reality, augmented reality, social gaming) in the context of grassroots advocacy and empowerment. We’re building new distribution channels in remote communities and on streaming devices. Bringing new distribution opportunities to our partners—particularly those who struggle to reach broader audiences with their work—helps amplify crucial stories, but also contemporizes the movement, bringing it out of the message-centric 20th Century and into the story-centric 21st Century.