Filmmakers Making A Social Impact: Why & How Filmmaker Sharon Baker of TELEDUCTION Is Helping To…

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Filmmakers Making A Social Impact: Why & How Filmmaker Sharon Baker of TELEDUCTION Is Helping To Change Our World

First of all, I’m not young anymore but I am blessed with the wisdom that comes from experience. Here is what I would say, you can make a difference while making a living — it might be a modest living, but the difference could be substantial. Find a way.

As a part of our series about “Filmmakers Making A Social Impact” I had the pleasure of interviewing Sharon Baker.

Sharon Baker’s narrative and documentary storytelling has established her as an award-winning, working artist and cause advocate. Her projects have been recognized in esteemed Festivals that include New York, Columbus, and Heartland. Baker’s work has aired on American Public Television and other signature cable channels. Her work as a Writer, Director and Producer has earned her prestigious national awards, nine regional EMMY’s, and in Delaware, The Governor’s Award for the Arts for Documentary Filmmaking. For 35+ years, Sharon’s mission has been to inform, inspire and empower community through the media arts.

Thank you so much for doing this interview with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you share your “backstory” that brought you to this career?

Wow, I loved painting and writing and music and news and public affairs. I truly could not decide whether I wanted to work in the theater or become a journalist. Both utilized the power of storytelling to address the human condition and to impact public understanding. An early opportunity in Talk Radio and fledgling Cable TV led me to an appreciation for what storytelling in these formats (now digital!) had to offer. I married young, had children young, and I created my own production company so I could advance my career while helping to raise my family. It might have taken a bit longer, but this road less traveled ultimately led me to storytelling adventures all over the world, the country and certainly my home state of Delaware — at a time when there were few women heading up production entities.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Just one? Too many to remember! Biggest mistake was to doubt myself. But you must remember, when I was starting out, this was not a woman’s game. I learned very quickly I would have to be strategic to be able to advance my enterprise. Today, a good iPhone can capture better imagery than the $60,000 cameras I had to finance to get. The explosion of digital technology has facilitated greater access and, to a large extent, leveled the playing field for storytellers now working. However, more content doesn’t automatically mean better content. There is a lot of good material out there — but you might have to sift through a lot of mediocrity, or worse, to find it.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

Well, my interactions range from villagers in remote parts of China, a Ghanaian king, American Civil Rights icons like Julian Bond, President Jimmy Carter, Pete Seeger, several Hollywood types — Paul Rudd, my good friend Ed Asner would be at the top of that list. Honestly? The most interesting people have been the many teachers, students, community volunteers and activists whose stories I have had the privilege to tell. Sorry for the cliché, but its regular people doing the truly important work in this world who have inspired me, taught me so much.

Funniest story might be an exchange through an interpreter with a farmer’s wife in a remote Chinese Village when we realized that our kids, too, had to be coerced to clean their rooms!

More recently, the day a guy in southern Delaware accused me of being a Communist because I was driving a Prius. That was pretty funny.

Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?

People of courage. My own Irish ancestors who fled a famine and crossed a giant ocean in search of a better life. Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Mother Jones, Suffragettes, resistance fighters in WWII, MLK, Malala Yousafzai. Too many to list. When they were told “no”, they said I don’t think so.

Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview, how are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting social impact causes you are working on right now?

What I, with the wonderful help of my talented colleagues, have always tried to do is to hold up a mirror to both the struggles and the achievements of our subjects. Most recently, we have explored the stories of the Dreamers. There is tremendous misinformation about undocumented Americans being circulated, negative propaganda. When you look at the last 100+ years of American history, it’s nothing new. It’s unjust and much of it is racist. By focusing on how the hopes, and aspirations of these Dreamers are the same as all Americans seeking life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we hope viewers might realize their common humanity and help counter some of this negative propaganda.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and take action for this cause? What was that final trigger?

I have always been inspired by people, their stories, what motivates them. My interest in the stories of Hispanic immigrants began in the early 2000’s when I met a very small group of volunteers trying to help hundreds, maybe thousands of young people who were pouring into lower Delaware to work in the poultry plants. The challenge was overwhelming but step by step, they developed and delivered critical services to these young workers. It was inspiring and the story needed to be told. That’s when we created Estamos Aqui. A documentary that looked at how the community came together to support this immigrant community. My moment came after I accidentally got to help deliver the baby of a 16-year-old girl, an undocumented poultry worker. I was holding her hand when, as the baby was delivered, she called out for her mother. Being able to comfort and serve that young woman at that moment was a such huge privilege. Perhaps if the story were told, barriers could be broken, so….

Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?

Study your American history. Dig through the propaganda to find the truth. Contact your U.S. Senators and make your voices heard.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why.

Listen to your inner voice. Trust your instincts. Do your research. Find like minded people. Forge ahead.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

First of all, I’m not young anymore but I am blessed with the wisdom that comes from experience. Here is what I would say, you can make a difference while making a living — it might be a modest living, but the difference could be substantial. Find a way.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Oscar Wilde: “A grapefruit is a lemon who saw a chance and took it.” Don’t take no for an answer if you have thought things through and still want to pursue an idea.

How can our readers follow you online?

Not really, but they can email if interested —

This was great, thank you so much for sharing your story and doing this with us. We wish you continued success!

Filmmakers Making A Social Impact: Why & How Filmmaker Sharon Baker of TELEDUCTION Is Helping To… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.