Swadaya: crowdfunded series aims to empower Indonesians (video)

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Indonesian photographer Rio Helmi and American filmmaker Joe Yaggi have joined forces and are currently crowdfunding a TV series, which aims to document grassroots projects across Indonesia.

Titled Swadaya – the Indonesian word for self-reliance – the show will feature Indonesians who have taken it upon themselves to improve their communities’ livelihoods. Among them are a man who established a goat dairy association in his village in East Java; an entrepreneur who helped a Balinese village build a bamboo industry; and a group of fishermen who began a mangrove planting initiative to protect their coastline from erosion.

Swadaya aims to shine a light on the other side of Indonesia that is often overlooked by traditional media. “There are so many negative stories that tell the very real obstacles and threats to the welfare, tolerance, and freedom of the people of this nation,” the pair wrote in a press release. “It’s time to turn the focus on the opposite.”

The series will be set as a travel documentary – in which Mr Helmi will travel to featured communities by motorcycle allowing him – and therefore viewers – a rare sneak peek into some of the more remote parts of Indonesia that are rarely exposed by the media.

Mr Helmi and Mr Yaggi hope that Swadaya’s message about initiative, self-reliance, and community empowerment will “light the way” for other forward-thinking Indonesians to start their own initiatives to improve the quality of life in their communities. To hep spread the message the series to be broadcast on 50 local TV stations across the country once shooting and production is completed in 2018.

The pair are no strangers to Indonesia and both are well-equipped to take on the mission. Mr Helmi has been photographing the region for 40 years, and his work has been published in international newspapers and magazines, while “Rio has been following many of [the stories on Swadaya] for years”, says Mr Yaggi.

As for technical knowledge and industry experience, Mr Yaggi has lived in Indonesia for 24 years and runs BumiHijau Media, a network of local Indonesia TV stations, and Jungle Run, a production company which has worked with the likes of the BBC and Discovery Channel.

For those who help get Swadaya made their are a host of incentives including:

  • Signed custom Rio Helmi prints and customised copies of the Swadaya series;
  • Executive Producer credits and Thank-You credits in the series;
  • An opportunity to join them during the production;
  • Swadaya T-shirts, custom engraved glasses, and stickers;
  • VIP screening passes and dinners with the producers;
  • Equity partnership.

The estimated total cost of the 13-episode Swadaya series is US$980,000 – each episode is estimated to cost about $76,000 – and the pair are hoping to kick-start the project by raising $228,000 from their Indiegogo camapign. So far a little over $12,000 has been pledged.

Those who are interested in contributing to the Swadaya project can do so for as little as US$10, but hurry – Swadaya’s  Indiegogo campaign is set to expire in 25-days time.



Feature video Swadaya Family.






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