Cloud Filmmaking: Using The Internet To Make Inspiring Films

In the age of YouTube, a moving video can be a powerful tool for raising awareness. But not all nonprofits have the ability to put together a good movie about their work. Let It Ripple can help with that, with a hand from the global community.

Cloud Filmmaking: Using The Internet To Make Inspiring Films

Tiffany Shlain could have been satisfied with her impact on American culture after founding the Webby Awards and co-founding the The International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. But like most overachievers, she couldn’t stop there. Her recent feature documentary Connected, a meditation on technology and our interconnected future, was recently chosen by the U.S. State Department to represent the U.S. around the world. And now Shlain is giving back with Let it Ripple: Mobile Films for Global Change, a digital short series (bankrolled by an anonymous donor) that offers nonprofits free socially minded films to promote their causes.


The series is an extension of Connected, according to Shlain: “The last scene in Connected calls for the participatory revolution–what’s the potential when you get everyone on the planet online? The last line in the film is, ‘Perhaps it’s time to declare our interdependence.’ The Let It Ripple series is putting those ideas into action.”

The first film in the series, A Declaration of Interdependence, features graphics and video from participants around the world, backed by a soundtrack from Moby. It was translated into 65 languages by users within just six weeks. The original version of the film can be seen below.

Here, we can see customized endings for a variety of nonprofits.

“The organizations are so grateful. They’re doing such important work, and we’re such an image-based society,” says Shlain. “Giving them an emotional and inspiring short film for them to further their work has been really wonderful.”

The next three films in the series–Brain Power (the film looks at the connections between nurturing young kids’ brains and nurturing the young Internet), Engagement (about the importance of being engaged in society), and Curiosity–will all follow a similar format. Let It Ripple will solicit images and video from the Internet at large, put it all together into compelling short films, and then customize the endings for nonprofits.

“We work with organizations to drill down on what their call to action is,” says Shlain.


Shlain is in pre-production for Brain Power now, and she’s soliciting images of people putting their hands on their hearts and looking into the camera for Engagement (learn more here). She imagines that any number of nonprofits will be interested in getting involved in the next film–educators, early childhood development organizations, policymakers, and people interested in the growth of the Internet may all want to play a part.

Shlain has some ambitious plans for future Let It Ripple films, which she expects to tackle money, power, happiness, wisdom, grief, courage–basically “all the elements of being human,” she says.

For more information on this style of film, check out Shlain’s .

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.