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Videos for Good: Washington, D.C. Video Production for US-based International Organizations

Wow, that was painful! I’m used to being the guy behind the camera! As a documentary director/producer and founder of Dorst MediaWorks, that’s where you’ll usually find me, but a friend who advises purpose-driven brands encouraged me to record this short mission statement. Yes, we’re just a boutique video production studio, but at Dorst MediaWorks, why do we do what we do? … Um, I’m a little nervous halfway through… 😊

Here’s a little more about how we got here.

I started Dorst MediaWorks in 2002…How’d I get into this business, since I didn’t study film? At the time, I was working as a writer. I had a burning desire to be a documentary filmmaker, but not a clue about how to get there. So I went around asking charter schools and nonprofits in Washington DC if they wanted a video … for free. I hired professional cameramen and editors and did the producing and writing myself (in retrospect, my cameraman did most of the directing 💪). I wouldn’t recommend this approach for making money. But within a few months, I had a portfolio that let me start charging for videos. As we proved ourselves, Dorst MediaWorks moved up the food chain. By 2004, we had our first international location shoot in Japan. By 2006, I was in Cameroon making my first independent feature doc, Volcanic Sprint. We were off and running …

Dorst MediaWorks, Tokyo, Japan
My first international shoot. Tokyo, Japan. Rooftop of Mori Tower, March 2004.

To help US-based international organization show results...[WHO DO WE HELP?] Having studied international relations and sustainable development, I was eager to tell these kinds of stories. Fortunately, Washington, D.C. is full of organizations that do this good work. By sticking with this niche, Dorst MediaWorks gradually earned a reputation for knowing the issues. And because our teams not only know video but also know international relations, economics, and other development topics, this made the whole project cycle easier for our clients. This saved time and money; and earned us trust and respect, which you can feel when you read Dorst MediaWorks’ Google Reviews.

Through inspiring documentary-style video…[WHAT DO WE CREATE?] As Dorst MediaWorks gained traction, we got calls for other styles of videos: training, press conferences, explainers, events, music videos, etc. None of this felt quite right. Documentary was my initial passion and that’s what we’ve stuck with over the years. A big part of that is staying true to character-based storytelling, featuring people’s voices where they live and work. That’s why in the past year alone, we’ve filmed in nine languages, including: Chichewa in Malawi (watch “Powering Malawi (MCC in Malawi): Washington, D.C. Government Video Production“), Creole in Haiti (“Haiti: Private Sector Development [USAID] Washington DC Video Production“), Marathi in India (“SWaCH in India: Sustainable Cities Video Production, Washington DC“), Spanish in Colombia (“Colombia: A Peace Plan, an Oil Shock, a Crisis [#1 of 4] Washington DC Video Production“), and Zulu in South Africa (see below). We always master into English, because our primary audience is usually American.

That journey has taken our team to more than 50 countries… [OUR EXPERIENCE] I’ve directed in 10 countries in the past year and my team is well-traveled. Photographers Jake Lyell and Kyle Laferriere collaborate often with Dorst MediaWorks: our clients seem to want both videos and photos lately. You can see where we’ve worked by filtering by location at Dorst MediaWorks’ Videos for Good video page. I also want to emphasize that relationships are key. We have a serious commitment to treating our clients, subjects, and crew well, especially across culture and language barriers. We acknowledge that kindness and empathy are prerequisites, and cinematic quality follows.

Dorst Mediaworks team in Medellin, Colombia
15 years after the Tokyo pic above. In Medellin, Colombia, with our team, and some new friends. Our documentary set-ups are indie and nimble; we film in public places. And we have to respect and be kind to the people who share these public places.

Our mission continues to be to try and make the world a more just and sustainable place...[WHAT DRIVES US] I believe that your work should improve the world in some small way. I respect doctors, solar developers and elementary school teachers — people that are making a difference every day. That’s what I aspire to. If a well-told story can help our clients increase their impact around the world, then that’s a good thing. Our team just finished a whirlwind five-country trip for WRI’s Ross Prize, where we chronicled innovative urban projects that point the way toward a more sustainable future. That sort of assignment is motivating for all of us.

By working only with organizations that do good...Our client list is full of do-gooders. Most are based in the US. Most have projects overseas that aim to improve the lives of people and communities. Their missions are humbling and their impact considerable.

Dorst MediaWorks' clients are organizations that do good, across sectors

Check out our portfolio — from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe…In 2014, we filmed in Afghanistan for a USDA program building capacity in the Agriculture Ministry. The logic was that if Afghan farmers had good harvests, they would be less vulnerable to extremists. A year earlier, we went with Catholic Relief Services to Harare, Zimbabwe to document a youth HIV program that was working with an entire generation orphaned by the devastating disease. Since then, we’ve been to dozens of countries to tell inspiring stories to strengthen the organizations that trust us.

Do you work at an organization that does good in the world? If you think we’re a good fit, send me an email! Hopefully we can work together and make some Videos for Good…

Odds are, you’ll make a visit to our office and editing suite in Washington, DC. Looking forward to seeing you soon!

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