Documentary: Not Business as Usual

Dec 19 2017, 9:26 am

“Is it realistic to expect a company to lose money just to accommodate their ethics?”

Meet the movers and shakers of Vancouver’s entrepreneurial not-so-underground. The people who are making money and making lives better, without compromise. These are businesses, and more importantly the people behind the operation, that chose to act in accordance to their values, who took “risks” to ensure that their product was to their standards; a standard that is gaining more momentum amongst consumers.

Is the product chemically laden, is it a ridiculous knick-knack? With the mission of “if you are going to do it, do it right,” it’s the simple yet insanely complicated act of changing the world through positive buy momentum. These “a-ha” moments are narrated by those who experienced them, who turned away clients, who opted for more environmentally friendly products. They didn’t just say they were doing it, or representing it, they did it, they are doing it now and they are asking you to join in the movement of doing it right.

The documentary “Not Business as Usual” by Institute B, which exists to become the best developer of entrepreneurs, looks at the world as it could be, and is slowly becoming. It’s a long term goal that moves away from old-world capitalism and influences a shift towards social responsibility and engaging a purpose bigger than the dollar. Leader Darrell Kopke lives by the words, “no snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible,” as himself and his venture team aim for accountability on all levels, at all times.

Not Business As Usual looks at capitalism and explores why success is often measured by one metric: Greed. That narrow view has had colossal implications ranging from environmental destruction, human rights abuses and unsustainable business practices.

With a massive supply chain behind them, Not Business as Usual profiles the people shifting the norm with their companies by looking at what is backing their product, so that we can all move forward as consumers and as a society inspired to change. From a business to the buyer, the documentary asks you to question that if you pick up a product that causes harm, aren’t your hands dirty too? It’s time for large-scale change, through the small, repeated acts of many.

Interview with Writer Rik Klingle Watt and Darrell Kopke of Institute B: Not Business as Usual.

Nicolle: Why were the themes presented in the documentary important for you to explore? 

Darrell: Capitalism left unfettered can lead to destruction. How many stories of tainted meat, lead in toys, or factory collapses do we need to hear before we make changes? Governments are slow to respond because industry is a prime driver of employment and taxes. It is a delicate balancing act. So it is up to corporations to self-regulate and that simply has not happened in a wide scale manner.

Our intention, therefore, for this film, was to present new role models and present the case that incorporating social benefit into the core mandate of business can not only change destructive habits, it can actually deliver better financial results for these corporations. Capitalism, with a twist, can work.”

Nicolle: How are business, social impact and conscious capitalism connected? And explain your process of sifting through all the information and presenting it in a language that was understandable (perhaps even relatable) for the “every day” person?

Darrell: BCorporations, or benefit corporations, are third party certified for-profit corporations that embed into their core mandate the delivery of social good. These change-maker CEOs are the new role models for business.”

Rik: With respect to sifting through all the information, you should know that when we started, we had no agenda, no pre-conceived story in mind. So we shot the interviews first and then reviewed each person’s story to see what truly resonated with us. We did our best to separate their “expected” answers and PR soundbites, and to instead build the film around the real stories they hadn’t told before. I think the rawness of the interviews makes the overall film more compelling and I think the audience will relate to it because they know they are hearing the truth. Even if it’s not pretty.

Nicolle: People often feel incredibly inspired to change after watching a documentary (or a movie), and then a few days later they are back to their habits… how did you present your doc in a way that it will have a lasting impact?

Rik: We deliberately stayed away from interviewing large, mega-successful, socially responsible brands like Method and Patagonia because we wanted to make the concept about creating a purpose beyond profit approach accessible to everyone. While we obviously admire companies like a Patagonia or a Ben & Jerry’s, and the societal and environmental impact they make, their stories are simply not that relatable to many entrepreneurs, small business owners, or those just starting out. The jump is just too big.

Darrell: But by featuring actual role models to emulate, like a Mark Brand or the founders of “Lunapads”, viewers can relate to people just like them. Everyday people who are doing great things AND making money.

Nicolle: How did the idea for the piece come to you, what were the first steps you took in making it happen, and are you happy with the end result? 

Rik: It’s funny, but we never intended to make a film. This was originally a research project for institute B’s unique online entrepreneur education curriculum called iBOC.

While the institute B principals are famous for developing the cultural foundations for incredible success stories like Starbucks, IKEA and lululemon, we wanted to address entrepreneurs whose businesses weren’t at that level yet. But who had all taken a stand for a new way of being in business. We wanted to hear first hand about their business models, motivations, challenges and triumphs so others entrepreneurs could learn from their experience.

When we organized all the research and reviewed all the footage however, we discovered some common experiences and themes that seemed to fly in the face of conventional business wisdom and practices. As we dug deeper, we discovered there was a powerful story waiting to be told.

As far as being happy with the outcome, I don’t believe any creative person is ever 100% happy with their results. Each time I watch it I see things I wish I could change or make better. What I hope though, is that our message is heard. I see the film as a catalyst for a broader conversation to take place. So if it inspires people to do that, then I’ll be happy.

Nicolle: If you could ultimately boil your doc down to one message…what would it be?

Darrell: The era of for-profit only corporations is coming to an end. If business leaders do not change, they will become obsolete museum pieces of business long ago.


DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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