Now We Know: Film Students Fighting For The Cause Of Freedom

Photo: Cody Brotter and members of Hothouse Productions on the set of "Now You Know" (Audrey Fain, BU '14) 

When I heard my assignment was to make a short film about slavery, I assumed it was a period piece. Hopefully future generations can correctly assume exactly that.

At the beginning of last semester, a small selected group of Film and Television majors gathered in a classroom on the third floor of Boston University’s College of Communication. The course, Hothouse Productions, is a student-run and client-driven production company. Some past clients had been BU alum Geena Davis’ Institute on Gender in Media and Boston Children’s Hospital. This year’s client was of the same philanthropic vein, thanks to award-winning filmmaker Garland Waller – our professor-turned-Executive Producer. With a screen projected on our classroom wall, we began Skyping with the Founder of The No Project, an anti-slavery public awareness initiative, who wasn’t even in our country.

Through that Skype session, research, and the youth-focused campaign for which we were creating the project, our class became painfully aware that slavery is illegal, but in no way abolished. Not just outside our borders -- in our own country and our own backyards. That’s why our assignment was to create a global video. Something the whole world could--and should--watch and appreciate. Something nobody would be able to turn off. And as the sole writer for the project, I had to tell a speechless story representing the three types of slavery (Labor Trafficking, Domestic Servitude, and Commercial Sexual Exploitation) in three minutes. The target demo? Human beings on earth.

With 3AM call times in “wicked cold” Boston, translators from across the globe, a composer studying at Berklee, real-world actors, professional makeup artists, and plenty of Dunkin Donuts, our task of teaching the world about modern-day human trafficking became a learning experience we will never forget. And still, after semesters of post-production and months of site-building, our mission is still at its beginning. I went on to become the Director of Global Communications for The No Project, a non-profit with many such videos to come.

So check out our short film and our short “Making Of” documentary, where you can also read our incredible testimonials from folks like CNN’s Siddharth Kara and NY Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. And follow the State Department’s lead and share it on Facebook, Twitter, and your iWhatever.

We’re step one in the fight against 21st-century slavery. Because in order to say no to human trafficking in an impactful way, you have to know about human trafficking--and learn about it in an impactful way. Our class sure did and now we’re paying it forward, so that one day, if our children are assigned such a project, they will be telling a story about the past.