Questioning our Relationship with Africa

A few years ago, I had the good fortune of working with veteran television producer Cassandra Herrman, pictured above. She produced and directed our story on the PlayPump, a profound reporting experience that would later compel me to launch Tiny Spark. After we filmed the Playpump story, Cassandra and I also traveled together to Darfur, Sudan, where we spent three weeks reporting on the mass killings and displacement of civilians there.

Producer Cassandra Herrman shoots footage for our PlayPump story.

Producer Cassandra Herrman shoots footage for our PlayPump story.

Cassandra has established a national reputation as a television producer and director by working quietly and expertly behind the camera, not in front of it. That’s why I am so pleased to see her out in front at last. Cassandra has a Kickstarter campaign underway to fund her latest film. It’s called Framed and it’s about a passion that Cassandra and I share: exploring the ways that Africa is portrayed in the mainstream media. Her latest project looks utterly fascinating and important: it delves into the reasons why we Westerners so frequently wish to “save” Africa.

Those who follow Tiny Spark are likely interested in these matters. So please take a look at Cassandra’s project and consider supporting it. If you’re unable to contribute, you should check out the trailer anyway. It’s very compelling. When FRAMED is completed, I know we will all benefit from seeing it, as each of us grapple to better understand our world and especially our roles, relationships and ideas regarding Africa.

1 Comment

  1. Chris D.

    An important subject!

    I see this struggle daily with how to raise money for projects I want to support (and local businesses I want to invest in) in African countries, when donors seem to want proof of “grateful smiling Africans” and investors want proof that their money will be protected from the supposedly omnipresent militia warlord and corrupt officials. If you want to crowdfund money you have to “package” what your doing in this formulaic “crisis -> solution” with the cliche imagery. If you want to import something from an African country and sell it, the stores expect the focus to be on how needy the producers are, instead of the quality of the product.

    How bizarre would it be if a commercial said “Eat McDonald’s hamburgers so Dennis can earn enough money to feed his family!” or if a Detroit resident had to tell an investor “Please invest in my startup company because there is gang warfare in my neighborhood”?

Leave a Comment