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Think-Film Impact Production Founder Danielle Turkov Wilson on Her Innovative Vision

Danielle Turkov Wilson’s creative passion and specialist experience in political engagement provide the binding thread so vital to Think-Film Impact Production's vision and success. Danielle's desire is to see films used as visual policy briefs, propelling emotional, lasting narratives and social change.

Danielle Turkov Wilson’s creative passion and specialist experience in political engagement provide the binding thread so vital to TFIP’s vision and success. Before founding Think-Film Impact Production, she worked for former President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz and advised the European Parliament Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief, liaising with the European External Action Service, and spearheaded many projects to counter radicalization. This, combined with her involvement in providing a platform for women, youth, belief and non-belief minorities, and refugees sparked her vision to revitalize creative mediums to empower socio-political progress. Danielle's desire is to see films used as visual policy briefs, propelling emotional, lasting narratives and social change.

When did you start Think-Film Impact Production and why?

Before starting Think-Film Impact Production, I worked in politics and social public policy. It was a frustrating, slow-turning machine where people would take a long time to make important decisions, negatively impacting the communities the policies were aiming to support. The performing arts have always played an important role in my life, too. When I was younger, I performed on stage and on television. With a burning desire to influence and make a change in the world, I decided to combine the worlds of politics and the arts.

Danielle Turkov Wilson

Danielle Turkov Wilson

I founded Think-Film Impact Production in 2016 with the aim of using the power of visual storytelling to drive political and social change. Working with seasoned and upcoming filmmakers, we produce and promote films, documentaries, virtual reality, augmented reality, and extended reality projects that tackle the most pressing social and political issues of today. Our productions are designed to empower engagement in meaningful entertainment, opening a window into stories that popular selection would otherwise miss. The ultimate objective is to inspire audiences to act on their desires for change which then leads to more viewership

Social impact projects are obviously the core of your company. Did something speak to you specifically to draw that inspiration?

Certainly! We are on a mission to bring about lasting change to global situations. We lead impact programmes at Europe's top film festivals and co-pioneered Cannes impACT in 2021, training and shaping the film industry to be more sustainable and impactful.

We partnered with Spotify to create a new live podcast at COP26 that uniquely brought together the voices of influencers, politicians, activists, and artists to bring an unheard conversation to audiences around climate issues like climate anxiety/depression. The recordings of which are now available on the platform.

I must highlight an example of one of our biggest accomplishments. In 2020, we partnered with Participant Media on Todd Haynes’ Dark Waters starring Mark Ruffalo, to accelerate protection against toxic forever chemicals.

[Interview with Mary Aloe, Producer and Founder of Aloe Entertainment]

We brought the film team, and the real-life hero lawyer, Rob Bilott, to Brussels and successfully called upon the European Commission to include a PFAS ban in their 2020 chemical strategy! We also inspired, now, 71 multinational companies to commit to removing PFAS from their products and supply chains. This impact work brought 85 million press and social media impressions and is credited for roughly 35% of the box office of the film in Europe.

This all goes to show just how big a legacy a film can have when you make the impact a priority.

As the Founder and Executive Director of the company, what are some of the challenges you've had to face?

When the pandemic hit in 2020, the effects were devastating for the film industry. We had to halt our campaign activities in line with lockdown restrictions, and the industry remained in limbo for several months. But with the pandemic beginning to subside, the industry is reopening for business and getting back on its feet.

The economic fallout of the pandemic has been another challenge we’ve witnessed in our industry. Film production budgets decreased substantially during this period, although more money is gradually being pumped into the industry as lockdown restrictions ease.

Working with stakeholders from across the political spectrum and from all walks of life is definitely a challenge as we have many different views to consider. But this also allows us to ensure our productions are as diverse as possible - and I would consider this a real strength of our campaigns.

Your Academy Award-nominated documentary film, The Cave, has been described as "empowering women in Syria." Tell us about that.

The Cave tells the story of the incredible Dr. Amani Ballour, who faced continuous bombardment from the air as she ran an underground hospital in the middle of the Syrian war. Not only did she have to face the bombs, the medicine shortages, and a never-ending stream of patients, but she had to run this secret hospital whilst facing sexism from members of the community who didn’t believe that a woman should be out of the house; let alone running a hospital!

Dr. Amani, and the rest of the medical team, are heroes in every sense of the word, and it was an honour to support and uplift her. As part of the campaign with The Cave, we provided Dr. Amani with platforms to speak to policymakers and diplomats at the EU, UN, and national governments. We also supported her travel into Europe as she was awarded an international human rights prize from the Council of Europe and set up the Al Amal (Hope) Fund, which provides her with resources to continue fighting for and inspiring women all around the world.

What are some of your projects in the pipeline?

We currently have a range of projects in the pipelines, some of which are currently active. One of these is The Territory, an exceptional Sundance-winning film co-produced with its protagonists, the Indigenous Uru-eu-wau-wau community of the Brazilian Amazon, which reveals the often violent truth of global deforestation and the importance of following the practices of Indigenous leaders who are our true guardians of the planet.

[Interview with Academy Award-Winning Producer Maryann Garger]

Another is The Scars of Ali Boulala, an intimate biographical film telling the story of Ali Boulala, one of the most eccentric skateboarding icons of the early 2000s. Ali has journeyed through grief, guilt, and addiction to a place of sobriety and is now ready to share his story with the world. His honesty is an inspiration to us all to take our mental health seriously and with this campaign, we have promoted arts therapies as a valuable tool at the European level.

But this is just a sample of the nearly 20 projects that are coming over the next few years, and we intend to provide plenty of opportunities for audiences to get involved and take action with us - so keep your eyes peeled! 

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