From the grid: Kindness is Contagious

David Gaz is a multi award-winning creative director, filmmaker and photographer. He has over 20 years of hands-on experience with major brands such as Levi’s, Sony, IBM, Xerox and Disney as well as world class museums and cultural centers such as Le Louvre, Le Musee d’Art Moderne, Le Centre Pompidou.

David’s work has been featured in Communication Arts (Including Cover), Graphis, Photo District News, The San Francisco Examiner Sunday Magazine and the French publications BAT and L’Etape Graphique as well as NOTCOTMy Modern MetThe Film ReelTokyo Eye, and countless other blogs.

After world wide fame in his 20s he turned to filmmaking, which is his passion, but it’s been a hard slog. After four years in the making, his documentary “Kindness is Contagious” is taking the world by storm, with distribution deals in the pipeline with Cinedigm that will include Netflix and iTunes. There’s also a cinema tour planned via US crowdsourced cinema viewings site Gathr (interesting concept if you’ve not come across it).

We caught up with him in his LA home, after being introduced by British filmmaker Richard Bazely,  to find out more.

David is one of those creative enigmas that throws anecdotes around like they happen to everyone. He became famous in the 1990s thanks to his unique style using layers of photography and light. This led him to work for many of the world’s leading brands and for some of the biggest ad agencies, but he wanted to make films. After, in his words, a massive disappointment, where he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a feature film he turned to documentaries.

Kindness is Contagious was originally called The Good Virus and he started work on it in 2012. The premise is that by doing something good for others, however small, you not only feel better about yourself but you help to make the world just a little bit better. Here’s one review from William Brownridge from The Toronto Film Scene

“David Gaz’s latest film, Good Virus, is all about being nice. It seems like a strange idea, but there’s so much more to it than simply being nice. There are possible health benefits, and the film shows that kindness is contagious.

It was the inspiration from this film that led me to one of the happier moments of 2012. During the holiday season, I was shopping for books. I decided to buy The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, but not for myself. When I reached the counter, I told the cashier to take the book and give it to the next person with a child who was shopping. Tears began to fill her eyes, and she declared that this was the nicest thing she had ever seen someone do. It made her holiday that much better, and mine as well. Had it not been for that documentary, the thought wouldn’t have even crossed my mind.

We frequently take film for granted, especially documentaries. They can inspire great change in people, and may even affect your life without you realizing it. So, the next time someone tells you to stop wasting time sitting there watching movies, tell them that you’re trying to better yourself.”

When I talked to David he was surrounded by papers pinned with bulldog clips to the wall, his creative ideas. He is remarkably candid about how difficult it is to make a documentary and get it distributed, let alone make money from it. The interviews were filmed over two years and the documentary was almost a year in edit. He tested everything including the name and whether it’s thanks to ebola or just that Kindness is Contagious is a better name, he only really saw pick up on the film after he changed the name from Good Virus.

I’ll keep the details of his investment and return confidential, but let’s just say documentary filmmaking is not going to make you rich. It’s interesting though that the biggest reach geographically is probably going to be through Netflix who pay a flat rate for documentaries. Perhaps we should view Netflix as a great way of getting your name out there and your next documentary financed by a traditional broadcaster.

You can watch Kindness is Contagious in the US from June 2015 or in theatres via Gathr. For more information on David’s work check out his excellent website and watch the trailer, you never know you might make the world just that little bit better.

 

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