When I tell people, as I often do, that the focus of Caulfield-White Productions is to work with creatives and local businesses to raise their profile in their community and around the world, people generally understand why we want to work with artists and creatives, but don’t understand why local business is such a focus for us. “Would you do a project for [instert large multi-national corporation here] if they paid you $100,000? $1,000,000?” they say (I swear, multiple people have asked me this question).
Like many emerging creatives, Ryder and I have struggled with the idea of selling out. How can we create things that we are passionate about while still being able to feed ourselves? (Further discussion of the ‘Doing What You Love’ mantra in a future post) We are both fully aware that as young creatives with more gonads than experience, and no family connections or name recognition, that the idea of either of us being paid obscene sums of money to make projects that we absolutely LOVE is a lovely fantasy and not much more. So, we did what we usually do, we have a “meeting”. And by meeting I mean we cracked open our laptop and a bottle of wine, and discussed our dreams, goals, loves, loathes, watched music videos of our favourite bands from the ’00s, and generally solved all the worlds while looking something like this*:
*Note(s): Neither of us have as awesome hair as Hamish Linklater or Miranda July. We are also unable to stop time or move things with our minds.
While this “meeting” dragged on a little bit – but really, what meetings don’t – we did come to a realization that moved us in the general direction that we (as a company) are headed: Filmmaking has always been a collaborative medium; a group of people who are working together to achieve a common goal. A goal that Ryder and I (and probably a lot of other people) share, is leaving the world a better place than we found it. I swear I am going to get to the point, and I’m going to get to it right now:
There are many different ways to go about this, but one of the simplest ways is to start in your own community by supporting local events, non-profit groups, and businesses. Though globalization has allowed for the exchange of ideas and culture, it has also allowed us (as Western post-industrial societies) to exploit people living in emerging economies all so that we can have a $5 t-shirt that we don’t wear (or can’t wear) in a year. The devaluing of STUFF is really a devaluing of the work that goes into making STUFF. Yes, advances in technology mean that factories might need fewer workers and therefore have lower labour costs, but machines have to be purchased, and maintained, and upgraded, and replaced. A simple example:
In the 1920s shoes in cost $4-$5 while the average annual salary in Canada at that time was around $960 – and this would generally be supporting a household. So a pair of shoes was about .5% of all the money you would make in a year.
The average Canadian household income in 2011 is $76,000, meanwhile, you can pick up shoes for between $20-$100, or between .026% – .13% of what a household earns in a year.
So the next time you think that a $50 t-shirt is ridiculously priced, remember that if that $50 t-shirt is made locally your money is paying your neighbours who more than likely are spending it in your community, helping to make it a more vibrant and liveable place; while that $10 shirt is mostly profit for the retailer, and ‘middle-man’ management companies that oversee outsourced production.