We don’t go to corporate advertising organizations to do this type of work, because frankly, they don’t put the passion, the heart, the time or the spirit into it. There is a particular method of storytelling, that’s important and distinct in a genre of its own. This is David’s sweet spot. He has a fantastic way of capturing the history but telling it in a motivating way, in a way that connects with people’s hearts, connects with their minds and ultimately helps them project further to say, “perhaps I should live that way.” When I played the GRACO film and talked about the history of the company, literally, people were in tears.
When we launched our campaign — and first showed the film — we had an audience full of donors and trustees. And there was so much excitement that one of our trustees stepped forward and said “how much did that film cost?” and wrote a check to pay for it. So the video paid for itself the first night.
Alumni are very proud when they see the film. We had as our goal 32% alumni participation rate this year. But in fact, as we speak, we have already surpassed 38%.
David Lewis produced a powerful, gripping film about the Field Center at the University of Pennsylvania and its mission to improve the lives of abused and neglected children. The production captured the essence of the Center’s approach, the people dedicated to achieving its mission and the children it is impacting. David’s production was done with great insight, clarity and emotional impact.
David evokes a story that finds the core of whatever it is he’s trying to film… before you know it you’re caught up in the feeling of the institution or the product and you go with it. David is able to cross boundaries and walk in other peoples shoes and socks in a way very few people can.
I don’t know if anyone has ever shared this with you, but your work has had an impact far beyond the borders of East Lake. One night, Warren Buffett was watching CNBC and happened to see your story. He wrote a note to Tom Cousins to say it was the only thing he’d seen in 60 years that worked — and that if we could use any more money for East Lake or anything similar, to just call. Tom immediately called and arranged a visit with Warren. Well, Warren committed to supporting the effort on the spot, and Julian Robertson (of Tiger Fund fame) joined in shortly afterward. The result of their collaboration is a new non-profit which is now working on revitalization programs in six communities.
At the event it had a huge impact on folks. Half the crowd was in tears, the other half were laughing… I thought it was great. It did exactly what we wanted it to do. You want to spend money where you going to get a result, and get some impact. The film was so impactful that it really capped the evening. We could have saved money and gone with a cheaper video and not gotten the results and not gotten the response.
David Lewis’ films do a wonderful job of creating that kind of connection that somebody would feel is worth sharing with others. Most films in this genre are eminently forgettable, and David’s are not.
He helped me a lot with my career. I hate to admit it but… it’s true.
I’ve seen a lot of corporate videos, I’ve seen a lot of testimonials and a lot of really good capital campaign videos. None of it compares to what David Lewis puts together. None. The impact is really huge, because maybe you weren’t connected before you saw the film, and afterward, you are forever. You can’t watch, and not care about what he’s talking about.
David Lewis is an excellent film-maker, but I think he’s even a better story-teller. And it’s not just the ability to make film, it’s the ability to tell a story in a compelling way.
He captures the soul of the organization, the character of the organization and the character of the organization actually determines its destiny. If you can capture that on film, it’s priceless. That’s David’s secret: filming what’s in the heart the organization and mirroring it back into the hearts of the people within the organization, so that they’re transformed forever.
Many of the films out there about ALS and some of these horrible diseases that we deal with, the patients don’t want to see them, its just so frightening. Your film is not frightening, it’s actually inviting. It’s about life it’s not about death. What the film does is allow patients to sit back and see through the eyes of other patients who are going through this. Understand what it’s like to be given a diagnosis that is going to end your life. And it’s a special film, because it does it in a gentle way. It does it in a way that pulls you in, as opposed to pushing you away. ALS is very sad for the patients and for the families, but the film isn’t sad. The film is uplifting. It’s an emotional piece that doesn’t make you cry, it makes you inspired to live another day.
David Lewis’s video for Paideia’s capital campaign was the centerpiece of our fundraising story. It was enormously effective, honest, and captured the spirit of our school. Potential donors were motivated by the video and it made all of our fundraising easier.
The importance of the film for LENOX is to tug on the emotional heartstrings of everybody who watches, to inspire people to feel good about what they’re seeing and the company. And doing so in a way that’s very humanistic yet very powerful and very inspiring… I knew this was successful the first time I showed it to the sales group when one of the sales individuals came up to me and said, “Can I get a copy of the DVD? I’d like to bring it home, like to show my family what kind of company I work for.”