Eleventh Annual Collection

It’s In Your Hands

2:34 min
Director: Andrew Hinton
Producer: Andrew Hinton

Winner of the Jury Award


More about It’s In Your Hands from filmmaker Andrew Hinton

Well, the short answer is get your film featured on the YouTube homepage.

The slightly longer answer begins in Maharashtra, where I met a young couple working in health and sanitation during a recent visit to India. They’re supporting local villagers in implementing solutions to improve water access and quality, and raising awareness of sanitation issues.
The figures are pretty startling. 3.5 million children die annually due to diarrhea and acute respiratory infection worldwide - more than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. But the good news is that a ridiculously simple act can save large numbers of these kids: hand washing with soap.

I went out with Jared and Sowmya on one of their school visits. Through games and theatre they and their team, teach schoolchildren about germs, show when and how hands need to be washed, and then they get them to build tippy taps.

If you’ve never come across one before, the tippy tap is a beautifully simple design solution to some big health problems, and the first time I saw one in use I knew it had the makings of a short film.

I broke out the trusty 5D and spent a couple of afternoons filming Sowmya and the local security guard assembling a tippy tap. Then I cut the footage and we watched it together. Tweaked and watched again. We added a friend’s music at the end. All the while wondering how you make something viral. How could you possibly get people to share a film about hand washing? Then I remembered some footage I’d shot in an HIV testing lab in Latin America, dropped that on the front, added some text and suddenly we had a little story.

Our push began with the YouTube non-profit video competition, to which Jared submitted the film just before the deadline. There were over 1300 submissions for the 4 categories, but ours was shortlisted in the Thrifty category (films costing under $500) so we jumped in to social media overdrive and hit up just about everyone we’ve ever met or worked with and asked them to vote.

Amazingly, they did. We won our category.

It means Jared and Sowmya get $2500 towards their work, but more importantly the film also spent 24 hours on the YouTube homepage, which took our views from around 2,000 to 115,000 in a day, and got the film seen by an amazing range of people who have connected with the idea. For a brief moment passengers aboard the YouTube supertanker were diverted to a 2-minute film about hand washing. And that was really fun. 

I’m not sure we completely cracked it - if we had the film would be chewing up the dancing hamsters on the hits leaderboard - but for something which cost almost nothing to make, and with not much more than some concerted support from friends, I think we did ok: we’ll pass 200,000 views in the next week or so.

So, a couple of insights or reminders along the way:
- It’s a bit like a kite - if you can get it airborne, and the wind is blowing in the right direction, your film can catch a current and start to fly.
- Social media tools like Facebook are incredibly powerful in spreading the word, so make the work as spreadable as possible.
- Your address book or database of contacts is invaluable when you launch work. Build and nurture your audience/network so when you go to them they’re ready to help.
- Mean it! People know when you’re doing something for the right reasons, so be genuine and communicate it. 
- Think laterally about who else might be invested in spreading the film/idea, and why. Find allies and build partnerships.
- Enter stuff. The previous film I made was one of the winners of a BRITDOC competition and got screened on Channel 4 just after the evening news. 
- I discovered bit.ly quite late in the game. It’s a very powerful free tool for tracking your link and seeing who is talking about it.
- Monitor your comments. There are some very, very stupid people in the world and someone let them loose on YouTube. 

I think more than any other project I’ve been involved with, this one has taught me that to be a filmmaker now involves a multitude of roles. I’ve (very reluctantly) joined twitter. A million conversations are happening online right now and we need to jump in and make our films part of them. With a little thought, time, energy, and a bit of luck, we can reach the people who connect with our work and want to share it.

Happy filming


Media That Matters 11, health / health advocacy, international
Creative Commons License: Attribution, Non-Commercial, No Derivative Works