"Filmmakers Can Turn Into Change Makers" - Prerana Langa, CEO - Yes Foundation On Their Social Film Grant

By Arun Fulara. Posted on June 11, 2016

Over the last few years Yes Foundation has created a special niche for itself in the developmental space. Their programs, focused on getting the youth to engage with social causes, have found considerable success. Chief amongst these has been the annual short film making contest, 'Yes! I am the CHANGE', that takes place every year around the Independence day. This year they've come up with another outstanding initiative, called YES FOUNDATION Social Film Grant.

In association with UNDP India, Yes Foundation is organising a contest-based program to provide filmmaking grants to aspiring filmmakers. If you have mastered the art of storytelling and are able to convey a message in a crisp and precise manner, then you cannot afford to miss this opportunity (the last date for applications is June 15th).

We caught up with Prerana Langa, the CEO of Yes Foundation to understand more about the vision behind this program. Published below are excerpts from the interview.

Yes Foundation

Ms. Prerana Langa, CEO - Yes Foundation

Yes Foundation has been doing some stellar work over the last few years. What is your vision at the Foundation?

YES FOUNDATION’s mission is to build towards building an empowered and equitable India. We focus on stimulating entrepreneurship and innovative use of media initiatives, to bridge gaps and act as a force multiplier towards India’s inclusive development.

Tell us about where the idea for the Grant came from?

Films have tremendous potential to catalyse dialogue among people and drive positive social action. We want to bring social films into mainstream and create a national discourse. We also believe in the power of youth and want to empower and enable young filmmakers to use their creativity to conceptualise great ideas on Sustainable Development Goals to produce high-quality short films that have the potential to change mindsets.

YES! i am the CHANGE 101 Hour Social Filmmaking Challenge is the flagship program of the YES FOUNDATION where youth make 3-minute short films on social with the intention of triggering mindset transformation. In 2015 there were 500,000 participants for the program across the country, which made us the World’s Largest Social Film Movement!

We keenly feel the need to diversify our outreach and add value for emerging creative professionals across the country. YES FOUNDATION supports ventures like Docedge Kolkata (South East Asia’s Largest Documentary Pitching Forum), iDocs (Short Films project) and MAMI – Mumbai International Film Festival where we instituted the Film for Social Change Award.

Through this particular program we hope to realise the potential and significance of PSA’s in raising debate among audiences. We are particularly keen to mainstream Sustainable Development Goals and hence designed the Social Film Grant.

Can you tell us about the idea behind the mentorship lab?

The YES FOUNDATION Social Film Grant is an emerging space in the country's film production scenario. We are delighted to have the likes of Piyush Pandey and Shivendra Singh Dungarpur who have graciously accepted to participate in the program. As a filmmaker it is an interesting challenge to think of an engaging story conceptualised around Sustainable Development Goals. We have a two-day mentoring lab followed by a pitch where we will choose the 4 best concepts for commissioning.

Through these two-days, filmmakers will get input from industry experts to script and storyboard their ideas and prepare for the pitch. Following commissioning, filmmakers will then collaborate with a production team and will get up to a month to complete the film. The greatest takeaway for filmmakers is the input mentors will provide on their projects which will enable them to hone their skills.

How did UNDP get involved?

We have always had synergies with UNDP in India and UN emphasizes a lot on effective communication to engage with youth. In January 2016, YES FOUNDATION signed a tripartite charter with UNDP and YES BANK to catalyse India’s social transformation through media based initiatives.

Yes Foundation

Yes Foundation-UNDP charter signing

The grant is in alignment with the charter signed. Additionally, the Sustainable Development Goals are a global agenda encompassing the pertinent social concerns of the world.

What happens once the films are made? How do you plan to leverage them?

We are promoting these films on various digital and social media platforms. UNDP and various UN affiliates will be using these films at key events, on-ground activities and other partner platforms. In the long run we want to develop with the UN a template to make a Public Service Film on each SDG.

Is the Grant going to be a regular annual feature?

We were pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming response considering this is the launch year. Hopefully the outcomes from this program should make this a regular feature. We are also keen on pursuing the world's best creative professionals to mentor young talent here.

A lot of short filmmakers out there make films on social causes. Internet has really exploded with these digital films in the last two odd years. What do you think will be the impact of this unleashing of energies for a young country like India & how do you (YES Foundation) intend to harness it?

We believe that stories can change the world, but now more than ever, storytelling has emerged as a key to social development. The scope of socially relevant films going across boundaries has expanded and this is a very exciting time to be a creative professional. At the same time, we see a need to nurture talent in filmmakers and develop their approach and world view toward social causes. We see this as a positive step toward mobilisation.

Our flagship program, YES! i am the CHANGE, proved that youth learn best through experiential learning and engaging with social causes in language they understand. This channeling of energy into productive work that ultimately instills sensitivity in the individual is wonderful to see. We have seen that filmmakers can turn into change makers and inspire their friends and family to make time and effort for social causes.

We are excited to be in this space because it is an unexplored ground for corporate foundations in India and are happy to be associated with so many bright young creative people of the country.


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