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How Singapore-based DOP Chris Dickinson is Connecting Media Professionals to Charities

23 April 2021

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How Singapore-based DOP Chris Dickinson is Connecting Media Professionals to Charities

The media industry was hit hard by COVID-19 last year, but Singapore-based director of photography Chris Dickinson saw an opportunity to create some positivity.

Chris is a veteran in the media industry, but after doing commercial work for much of his professional life, he felt like something was missing. During the Circuit Breaker, he sat down and thought about ways that he could turn his work in the media into meaningful contributions toward society. From this, Crew4Good was born. 

Crew4Good is an initiative that connects people in the media industry to charities and non-profit organisations that could use the help with creating material such as videos and promotional content. 

“I had the idea for a while, but COVID helped me to focus on it,” Chris tells us. He says initiative challenges him to balance being able to earn a living and being able to enjoy living. We sat down to talk to him about how Crew4Good came about and how it works.

The pandemic has put the media industry in a very interesting position, which seemed like the right time for a new initiative like Crew4Good. “It’s forced us to relook at things and that allows us to do more,” Chris says, “It’s the evolution of the media and COVID has accelerated that.” He has observed how filming has now adapted with pandemic measures and is taking place in new forms such as recording calls on Zoom.

Chris on set prior to the COVID-19 pandemic / Image credit: Chris Dickinson

Chris was inspired by another initiative called WeTheGood which was started by former MTV presenter Nadya Hutagulang last year. He was roped in to help out with filming a three-part web series for WeTheGood titled “Aligned”. The series is hosted by Elizabeth Lazan and discusses mindfulness and wellbeing.

Although the seeds of the idea for Crew4Good were already in his head, Chris shared that he was hindered by a lot of his self-doubt. Having worked in the industry for decades now, he has seen his fair share of projects that succeed but also many that fail. When working with Nadya for WeTheGood, Chris found the themes on mental health very poignant for himself. “All the reasons I was not doing it were just in my head,” he says, “The fear of not doing it was worse than the fear of failure.”

Chris took it upon himself as a social responsibility to turn the media into a tool for good. In a year when the media has focused a lot on politics and the pandemic, he wanted to show people that the media can still play a positive role in society.

The first step in setting up Crew4Good was to get a community on Facebook going. Chris started a Facebook group that now has 55 members from Singapore and abroad. He believes that the programme needs to be built upon trust and the relationships forged between people. He wants the community to grow organically and ensure he knows the members personally so that he can vouch for them when paired up with charities. Likewise, he is also reaching out to charities and organisations that he is familiar with as a start. Some of the causes he wants to champion are those that he feels passionate about, such as mental health and the environment.

The next step was to start producing content. Although Crew4Good is not a production company, Chris was personally involved in the first shoot done through the initiative which just wrapped. This pilot project was not tied to any organisation. Rather, it is a four-episode series done in collaboration with Singapore Social cast member Mae Tan, who looks to spread awareness about a cause close to her heart. It remains true to the initiative’s core which is to use the media to do good. Since the initiative is in its early stages, his focus is on creating content for others to see and give them an idea of what Crew4Good does.

Moving forward, Chris hopes Crew4Good can become an international initiative and already has members from Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand. He is also thinking about how to create incentives for people to join the initiative and perhaps even creating commercial value for the projects. Crew4Good has a great deal of potential, and while Chris is still planning what comes next, he already has lots of ideas bubbling around.

You can find out more about Crew4Good at their website: crew4good.org

Qingru found her love for film and media while studying mass communication at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. She believes Disney’s 'Treasure Planet' is an underrated gem. She is also a self-proclaimed ramen enthusiast and the pantry rat of the Sinema office.