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Financing “The Message” Behind Naomi Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’ Project
United States Senate
Committee on Environment and Public Works
Minority Staff Report
July 30, 2014
(L-R) Author Naomi Klein, Mrs. Universe Ashley Callingbull and director Avi Lewis attend the ‘This Changes Everything’ premiere during the Toronto International Film Festivival (Crédito: Dominik Magdziak Photography)
“The New York-based Sustainable Markets Foundation (SMF) is another significant fiscal sponsor. Unlike Tides, Inc., it is a relatively unknown quantity. SMF only exists on paper and has zero public presence – no website, no Facebook page, no Twitter account, nothing. Accordingly, only an extensive review of its IRS Form-990s can inform the public of its activities; however, this review was limited to 2010 and 2011 because SMF’s IRS Form-990 for 2012 is not public. Through meticulous research, the Committee identified Jay Halfon, previously discussed in this report, as the director and general counsel of SMF. The group was also the fiscal sponsor of the controversial 350.org. Moreover, nearly all of the members of the Billionaire’s Club donate to SMF, including Schmidt, Global Wallace Fund, RFF, RBF, Park, Energy, and Tides.
“SMF only exists on paper and has zero public presence – no website, no Facebook page, no Twitter account, nothing.”
- A SMF Project: “The Message”
Susan Rockefeller, Co-Executive Producer of the “This Changes Everything” documentary film and founding partner of Louverture Films, LLC. Louverture is the production company for the documentary film “This Changes Everything” (with The Message Productions, LLC / Klein Lewis Productions ). Photo: Rockefeller at her home on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, New York, on Sept. 8, 2015. Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)
“The Message” is a multi-platform project on climate change. The first part of the project is a non-fiction book expected for release in fall 2014 by Naomi Klein, to be followed by a documentary currently in production. In 2011 and 2012, SMF received donations for and distributed grants to “The Message.” Specifically, in 2011, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund gave SMF $50,000 for “The Message,” Wallace Global Fund gave SMF $75,000 for “The Message,”and Schmidt Family Foundation gave $40,000 to SMF “to support development of a film titled, The Message.”
While those donations total $165,000 in 2011, that year SMF gave $112,360 – the difference seemingly represents SMF’s fiscal sponsor fee. The following year, the Schmidt Family Foundation gave SMF $100,000 “to support ‘The Message’ film.”
[Production Company: The Message Productions, LLC/Klein Lewis Productions/Louverture Films]
(L-R) Executive Producer Alfonso Cuaron, Producer Pamela Anderson, Journalist Naomi Klein and Director Avi Lewis attend the “This Changes Everything” photo call during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival at Ryerson Theatre on September 13, 2015 in Toronto, Canada.
The Message Links:
- The Message (The Schmidt Family Foundation): http://www.11thhourproject.org/grantees/the-message
- The Message: The (R)evolutionary Power of Climate Change (which became the title of the first chapter in Klein’s book, This Changes Everything): https://britdoc.org/films/display/the-message-the-revolutionary-power-of-climate-change/
- 2014 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Avi Lewis’ The Message: http://www.ioncinema.com/news/festival-predictions/2014-sundance-film-festival-predictions-avi-lewis-the-message
Note that it is the “impact philanthropists” who determine the strategy behind such books, movements and film formats. Listen to Katie McKenna, web and engagement director for Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein’s book/documentary outreach project, The Message (as it was referred to from 2011 to 2014). McKenna articulates in the video below how funders do their due diligence. The funders ask for proof of social change, but are more than happy to accept metrics as a substitute. Clicks, metrics, are the new currency. In this way, the NGOs are all competing for profits in the form of continued funding as a reward for achieving attention via social media metrics.
Katie McKenna: Does art change the world? Lessons from the emerging field of “impact producing” | Treehouse Talks, April 2015
“so you start thinking about data, data, where am I going to get data to prove social change?”
“you end up using social media metrics as a proxy for social change”