The Story Behind “The Electronic Afterlife”
A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a video called "The Electronic Afterlife." I had no idea what it would be about, but the title was compelling and video thumbnail looked interesting, so I clicked play.
I thought it was a great example of how to do social cause video well. So did Buzzfeed, Gizmogul, and USA Today, who all featured the video on their sites. The video is as informative as it is entertaining, and it's racked up almost 36,000 views as of this post.
I managed to get in touch with the video's producer, Stephen Schneider, who also happens to be one of the co-founders of Gizmogul. Stephen graciously agreed to answer a few questions about the making of the video. Below are excerpts from our interview, which has been edited for length and clarity.
Bridgett, See3: Why did you decide to use video to help promote your service and share your message?
Stephen, Gizmogul: The reason we created the video was to raise awareness about the importance of electronic recycling while offering up an easy solution to do just that: our company, gizmogul.com. There are many businesses out there who recycle electronics like us, however, not all of them are concerned with being environmentally responsible. We thought if we could show them why it’s important to be concerned, they would think twice before choosing the company they decided to work with.
This is what sets Gizmogul apart from its competitors. We wanted people to know that we’re the good guys and we’re doing things the right way. And since the competition is thick, we had to make something compelling that we hoped would get through to people. Our competitors have marketing budgets in the millions of dollars. We’re a small, homegrown company who was forced to use the resources we had available in a creative, cost-effective way. Everyone who worked on this did so for a fraction of their typical fee because they believed in the project and thought it was cool and had an important message. I wrote the video with Alex Gorosh, the filmmaker. He shot it, edited it and did all the color correction. Gramatik donated a song to us and Jeff Conrad did the rest of the soundtrack.
This video was really compelling to me because you made the video a story about a person (the filmmaker) and a place, which made me interested in your service without you having to go into a ton of detail about what you do. How did you come up with the idea of going to Agbogbloshe to tell this story?
The germ of the idea came from spending time traveling throughout Africa a few years ago. While I was there I stumbled upon a similar dumpsite. Although the video is successful in capturing the essence of what it feels like there, nothing compares to the emotional experience of actually being there. It’s so sad.
Agbogbloshie is one of the largest electronic dumpsites in the world. We considered other locations, however, Alex was already familiar with the region having been to Ghana before plus had a contact there, who was featured in the video: Kwame.
As far as the storytelling process is concerned, we wanted to make to make a video that told a big story. A story that starts with something small that we can all relate to, ie. a broken phone or an old macbook, it takes us all the way around the world and ends up teaching us a much bigger, more critical lesson. We wanted the video to align with Gizmogul’s overall mission. We are the modern, eco-friendly electronic recycling solution who speaks to a younger generation. We’re not a stuffy corporation – like so many of our competitors, who have shareholders and executives in business suits making decisions. Gizmogul was started by me and my two brothers from Boston, Cory, & Barry. We’re young, we wear t-shirts and jeans and we’re out to make a positive dent in the world with our company. That’s why people use us.
What impact has the video made?
I think the video is successful because it taps into something unique. Americans don’t really consider the end game when buying electronics, mainly because they’re not directly affected by it. We live in an insane time. Every year people buy new, upgraded versions of a product they already own, a product that still works perfectly fine. We’re suckers for faster processors or bigger screens or whatever is “new”– we’re obsessed with staying ahead of the curve. So, we just wanted people to stop and think for a few minutes before they bought their new iPhone about how their specific action affects the rest of the planet.
What was the video production process like? Any good stories to share from developing, filming or editing?
We stylized the video and made it funny at times in order to make it more digestible. We didn’t want to turn people off with the sort of “Save the Whales” woe-is-me tale. Everyone knows it’s a real problem which has a very simple solution: make sure your stuff is recycled properly.
Quick funny story about shooting… Alex really did shoot an entire music video for Kochoko while he was there in exchange for him showing Alex around. The video isn’t finished yet, but you can see another one of Kochoko’s video’s here.
What goals did you have in mind when making the video? Have you accomplished them?
The goal of this video was to raise awareness on the importance of proper electronic recycling. Have we done that? I think so. The video was featured on USA Today, Gizmodo & Buzzfeed and more importantly, it stands as a great representation of our company, who we are, what are ideals are, and how we do business. The impact has been overwhelming. We’ve received a ton of donations; we’ve been contacted by large municipalities, corporations and school systems to setup their own recycling programs. And we’re going to be able to make a meaningful contribution to the primary school in Agbogbloshie.
Gizmogul is one of North America’s leading mobile device & electronic scrap refiners. Started by three brothers from Boston: Cory, Barry & Stephen Schneider, Gizmogul recycles more than a million cell phones, tablets, pda’s and personal computers every year while donating a large portion of the proceeds to charity. Due to their user friendly interface, strong customer service and easy transaction process, the company is on track to hit revenue growth upwards of 2,000% since 2013. Gizmogul was selected to be a member of the prestigious Inc. 500, as one of the fastest private growing companies in America. In addition to recycling mobile devices, Gizmogul has been a major player in the electronic waste refining business for ten years.
If you’re interested in donating your electronics you can do so here: http://gizmogul.com/donate/
To sell a device go here: http://gizmogul.com/
To setup a larger program or a fundraiser email us here: [email protected]