Zach Ingrasci never planned to be a filmmaker. He graduated university with a degree in economics at the same time as making a great mate down the hall, Chris. Chris also happened to be studying economics and the two young men had a large base of intellectual knowledge when it came to understanding the relationship between money and extreme poverty.
However, they wanted to immerse themselves into the environment and economic structure of extreme poverty, to experience what it was really like. So there it started. In the summer break between their second and third years of University Zach and Chris, along with two friends who were interested in film went to rural Guatemala, living there for two months – off of a dollar a day.
They made a film about it, that film has been on the homepage of Netflix and broadcasted globally, watched by millions – I was one who watched.
I sat in my classroom watching Zach and Chris’s film, me a privileged, westernised and not always superbly grateful young woman, got about ten minutes into the film before realising I had to interview them.
If you like I was in the same place as Zach was, in his second year of University. I had knowledge of what poverty meant on paper, but I had never experienced it. Although I am still a long way from experiencing it as Zach and Chris did, their film allowed me to step out of my own life and instead into the lives of those living on a dollar a day, those in extreme poverty.
Zach and Chris, ended up stepping outside of their own lives through film, as a career.
The films they make always have a social impact side, to quote Zach “[they] realised we could effect the world” and they have. I can say for certain they’ve affected my world.
Their film has opened my eyes as to what seeing the world really means. For young people traveling the world is a target, we want to see Paris or London, we want to experience the world but in doing this though, we have constructed realities of what it will be like. Paris is the city of love right? Well in recent times, many could argue it has become the opposite.
Zach and Chris’s film has shown me that to truly see the world, is to see all of it.
To know that central America’s rural areas are often without clean drinking water and to understand that a refugee camp isn’t just a bunch of people with tents set up, rather it’s a place with over 3,000 shops, where you can buy wedding dresses and take part in an individualised multi-million dollar economy.
Seeing the world means to see everything. Knowing the beautiful bits and the murky bits of the world, but also being able to find beauty within all of it. That is the lesson I learned from Living On One’s productions.
Their films show you the world in all its dimension and truth.
Often as people, especially in the media, we shy away from realities because they aren’t as optimistic or as pleasing to attend to as other things the media has on offer.
Zach and his team are living (on-one-dollar) proof that it is only by facing harsh realities of the world and using media as a tool for exposure that we make significant change. I don’t want to tell you the story of Living on One Dollar because you must watch it. Just as you must watch Zach and his team’s latest film Salam Neighbor. When asked about what is was like returning home after his films were made Zach said, one of the first emotions he experienced upon returning to the United States after being in Guatemala, was guilt.
Guilt for the life he had, the food in his fridge and opportunities at his fingertips.
However, he says that he quickly realised this emotion was useless. In his words “the best cure for guilt was action,” action to make the world better, to help others and to stand for good. This mantra, applies to everything.
No good is found in guilt or in sympathy or even in pity. Good is found in actions. Be a person of action – even the simple action of watching and getting your friends to watch Living On One Productions, is the beginning of a catalyst for change.
Find Living on One: http://livingonone.org/