Our Films

The Megaphone Project produces films that advocate for change, educate citizens about their rights under the law, and celebrate people and organizations making a difference in their community.

To see the types of films we make, click here.

Click on each film title to see a description and watch the film, where available. When you see this symbol () next to a title, that means the video is available for your viewing right here on our website.

advocate

When the city of Baltimore announced plans for a new light rail line, residents of neighborhoods along the proposed Red Line had a lot of questions. Especially those Baltimoreans whose communities and businesses were devastated by the Road to Nowhere and other transit projects built during less enlightened times. To address these concerns, the city of Baltimore, Maryland Transit Administration, and Central Maryland Transportation Alliance invited 60 neighborhood activists, business owners, and legislators to travel to Los Angeles, Phoenix, Portland, and Seattle. The travelers' mission: to talk to their counterparts in cities with existing light rail systems and bring back lessons learned and best practices that can be applied to strengthen Baltimore's Red Line system. (24:00)

In February 2007, Deamonte Driver died from an untreated tooth infection that spread to his brain. Before Deamonte died, his mother had searched in vain for a dentist who would accept Medicaid. At the time, some Maryland counties had only one dentist in the entire county who treated Medicaid patients. Produced for the Public Justice Center, this video educated legislators on the need to improve access to dental care for children on Medicaid. As a result of the PJC's campaign, the Maryland General Assembly preserved new budget funding for Medicaid this year to improve dental care for low-income children. (7:00)

Description coming soon!

Created for the Baltimore Resettlement Center, this video features brief interviews with Baltimore refugees who overcame unimaginable hardships in their home countries. Now relocated to Baltimore, these refugees are willing and able to work hard to make a new life. The video also features interviews with employers who have hired refugees and enthusiastically recommend that other companies do the same. Baltimore Resettlement Center staff describes the training refugees receive through Baltimore City Community College, and the ongoing support refugees receive from Lutheran Social Services. (7:00)

As early as 1904, paint company executives knew that the lead in their paint was causing brain damage and death in children. What did they do about it? They hid the facts and launched a public relations campaign that included comic books targeted to children. More than one hundred years later, children continue to suffer irreversible damage from lead paint posioning, including brain damage that causes learning difficulties and violent behavior. The costs of addressing this devastating social issue have fallen to landlords, homeowners, schools, the health care system, prisons, and taxpayers. Paint companies have never taken responsibility for the devastation they caused. This film was produced for StopLeadPaintPoisoning.com to try to persuade the Maryland legislature to hold paint companies financially responsible for addressing this problem.

Recruiting foster/adopt parents is an ongoing challenge, particularly for older youth. The voices of youth offer a powerful vehicle for making real their need for the kind of guidance, stability, nurturance, and support that resource families can offer. This video focuses on the experiences of children in the foster sibling camp known as Camp Connect. Foster youth talk candidly about their experiences in foster care, the importance of sibling relationships, and the resource families who have made a difference in their lives. Camp Connect was produced for Maryland Department of Human Resources and is used to recruit foster parents and adoptive parents by educating prospective families about the challenges, hopes and dreams of children in the foster care system. (7:00)

The film goes to the heart of one of the most controversial issues of the moment: marriage for same-sex couples. Commissioned by the ACLU of Maryland and Equality Maryland. Heart of the Matter features interviews with three of the same-sex couples who brought suit against the State of Maryland for denying them a marriage license. The film lets them tell the intensely personal stories behind the sensationalized headlines and gives them the space to lay out the reasons, both practical and philosophical, behind their push for same-sex marriage. Produced for the ACLU of Maryland and Equality Maryland, Heart of the Matter received the prestigious Impact! Award for Excellence in Communications from the National ACLU. (11:00)

If you're one day late with rent, you could end up less than a month later with your possessions dumped in the street. Cleaning Up documents the damage that our eviction system does to families and neighborhoods. Produced for the Public Justice Center, the film supported PJC's campaign to reform eviction practices. As a result, the Baltimore City Council passed bills that stopped the practice of dumping tenants' belongings in the street following an eviction, and for the first time, required that the tenant be notified of their eviction date. These bills have saved taxpayers over $1 million per year in clean up costs, reduced neighborhood blight, and reduced the number of evictions by 34 percent. (5:00)

Produced for the Health Care For All Coalition through the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative, this video tells the stories of three working families whose lives were devastated when their head of household had an accident or fell ill at a time when they did not have health care insurance. The coalition showed our video to legislators during the special session. As a result of this campaign, new legislation was passed that will improve access to health care for Maryland's working poor. (14:30)

This short video was commissioned by Advocates for Children and Youth (ACY) to support continued funding of Maryland's public health insurance program for children and pregnant mothers. ACY screened it for both healthcare advocates and the Maryland General Assembly. ACY's efforts to ward off cuts to the program were successful. (4:00)

If you're arrested in Baltimore, you can receive a death sentence even before your trial begins. Thirty-one inmates at BCDC, the city's pre-trial detention center, met their death between 2000 and 2002, according to The Baltimore Sun. Infected provides a shocking account of a health system that systematically denies inmates medication and access to care, conditions so atrocious that the U.S. Department of Justice reports that they "violate the constitutional rights of inmates." The Public Justice Center (PJC) used this film in its campaign to improve health conditions inside Baltimore's jail, providing DVD copies to seventy Maryland legislators, as well as other decision makers. This effort health convince lawmakers to oust the facility's health care provider, overhaul the entire inmate health system, and increase its budget. Infected premiered at the Creative Alliance, screened twice at the Maryland Film Festival, and was featured in City Paper and on the Marc Steiner Show. (19:00)

There's no doubt that Baltimore is a racially-segregated city. According to the ACLU, that segregation is due in large part to contemporary city and federal policies. This Is Heaven explores this accusation and presents a racially-integrated alternative to high-density inner city public housing. This 8-minute documentary was produced for the ACLU of Maryland in support of its campaign to end the de facto racial segregation of public housing in Baltimore City. It premiered to an audience of several hundred at the Creative Alliance and has been used since then by the ACLU to enhance its public education campaign on housing and segregation. This production was also featured in The Baltimore Sun. (8:00)

Since its premiere in Baltimore, the film Stealing Trust, produced by Megaphone Project, has been seen and discussed at 15 public screenings across Central Maryland. Prof. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Elijah Cummings, Rep. Donna Edwards and other political leaders have spoken at public meetings featuring the film. Maryland Public Television broadcast the film as part of its celebration of National Financial Education Month. More than 20,000 Maryland households watched the broadcast.

A look at Maryland's youth in the criminal justice system.

educate

The lack of affordable hosuing, a missed day of work, or an unexpected car repair can land Maryland tenants in rent court, where up to a thousand eviction cases are processed each day in Baltimore City in 30-second trials. Meanwhile, tenants live in substandard conditions where they and their families are exposed to lead paint and other health and safety code violations. Produced for the Public Justice Center, this video is for the nearly 150,000 tenants who are sued for eviction for nonpayment of rent in Baltimore City's District Court every year.

Filmed in the District Court with court personnel, this film dramatizes common defenses and court room procudures that tenants will encounter, and shows tenants that by standing up for themselves, they can make sure the judge understands their side of the story. (24:17)

Produced by the Public Justice Center and Megaphone Project, this video is a short drama illustrating the power of a federal law that protects the education and rights of homeless students. Devonne, a high school student and leader of the debate team, finds her future in jeopardy after her family is evicted from their home due to foreclosure. Homeless, Devonne and her family temporarily move in with Devonne's aunt.

When her debate coach finds out, his efforts to help Devonne backfire, and she is suddenly and wrongfully forced to enroll in a new school where she is lonely and alienated. Luckily for Devonne, her debate partner and coach learn about the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

The drama, together with a brief concluding summary, teaches viewers how the law can help homeless students overcome barriers to succeed in school. (15:30)

Judge Smart is a funny film to help consumers avoid some very unfunny perils in the home mortgage market. Produced by Megaphone Project for The Baltimore Homeownership Preservation Coalition, Judge Smart features local nonprofit staffers acting out the roles they encounter every day helping home borrowers avoid financial ruin. The film shows dramas that take place in reality-style courtroom. The premiere was held at the Creative Alliance. (21:00)

Spanish-speaking immigrants new to Maryland are eligible for subsidized health care, but how to get that care is often mysterious. This short telenovela (soap opera)-style movie weaves health care access tips into a story of two very different immigrant women thrown together when both become pregnant and start navigating an often bewildering health care system. It was created to show newly arrived Central and South American immigrant women who are pregnant or have children how to access and negotiate the free health care available to them and thfeir offspring in Maryltand. Produced for Baltimore HealthCare Access, the film proved both popular with its intended audience and effective in its ability to disseminate vital information. It also caught the attention of the press. The Baltimore Sun published a story on the video and the public radio news program "The World," produced by the BBC and Public Radio International, broadcast a feature as well. This exposure led to distribution of the video to health departments and care providers around the nation. In Spanish with English subtitles. (15:00)

Latino students at Baltimore's Patterson High School were getting frustrated. Their parents, many of whom are recent immigrants from Latin America, just didn't get some of the basics of American high school life so the students decided to make a video that explained things from their point of view. The result: a unique and funny look at the relationship between immigrant kids and their parents. Saber es Crecer shows a series of dramatized vignettes conceived and performed by the students that teach Spanish-speaking immigrant parents about some of the more obscure but important policies of the Baltimore City school system. Produced in Spanish with English subtitles in collaboration with the Grupo de Padres y Estudiantes Latinos de Patterson High School and distributed by the St. Michael Outreach Center of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. (13:00)

This early collaboration with the Homeless Persons Representation Project was produced for temporary day laborers as a recruitment tool for the then-new United Workers Association, a union for day laborers. (5:00)

There is a direct correlation between depression and poverty, but relatively few of those affected are in treatment. There are a myriad of reasons for this: the apathy resulting from the disease itself, the stigma in the community for those seeking mental health treatment, and the failure to understand the disease and its consequences. Depression presents a public health crisis of major proportions.

Project Connections aims to meet this challenge in Baltimore City and beyond by placing mental health professionals within grassroots community institutions- from community centers and neighborhood health education sites to neighborhood primary health care clinics and re-entry programs for ex-offenders.

The film was a partnership of the Behavioral Heath Leadership Institute and Megaphone Project. It is produced and directed by Kara Panowitz, a Megaphone Project board member.

celebrate

MATHS is a charter school that educates youth from Baltimore's most impoverished communities for careers in technology and health sciences. Many of these students will be the first in their families to attend college. Since many students have never traveled outside their neighborhood, each year the students travel out of state to expand their horizons. The principal's dream is to raise the funds for trips out of the country. (9:19)

Zebra Kids tells the surprising story of how a drumming and dance master from the Ivory Coast helped four middle school boys discover their own creativity and courageousness. Zebra Kids is an African drumming and dancing class brought into the Baltimore City Schools, and paid for by the Baltimore International Rhythm and Drumming Society (BIRDS). The class is held in an old dance studio at Baltimore's Robert Poole Middle School and is taught by Zaipo Oula, a drum master from the Ivory Coast. As the class progressees, the less serious kids start to disappear and leave about a dozen that thrive on the attention they get, the physicality they exert, and the beats they produce under Oula's tutelage. And as the film progresses, we're taken out of the classroom and deeper into the lives of four boys who seem particularly affected by the power of the drum. (36:30)

In poverty-stricken West Baltimore, prostitution and drugs become the means of survival for many women who suffer the long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse. Even with aggressive intervention from social service providers, their plight can seem hopeless. Hearts in the Darkness follows just such a woman, Sissy Leahy, as she discovers an unlikely means of escape and redemption. This piece was produced in association with You Are Never Alone (YANA), Baltimore's only social service provider for women and children engaged in prostitution. It premiered to a sold-out crowd at the Creative Alliance and was featured in the Urbanite magazine and on the Marc Steiner Show. (20:00)

This film explores Baltimore's small but powerful alternative to youth incarceration: the Community Conferencing Center. Adopting a traditional conflict resolution method from the Maori of New Zealand, the Center brings young offenders together with their victims to acknowledge the damage done and negotiate reparations. The results, as documented in the film, are often surprising and life-changing for both perpetrators and the people they've harmed. Produced in collaboration with the Community Conferencing Center, this piece premiered at the Creative Alliance at the Patterson.

With roots reaching back to 1790, the south Baltimore neighborhood of Sharp-Leadenhall has been home to generations of African-American families, surviving repeated attempts to bulldoze its homes. Though buffeted by threats of highway construction projects, "urban removal" programs and gentrification, these families are determined to preserve their hold on the neighborhood. They confront city officials about fixing up public housing in the neighborhood after ignoring pleas to do so for years. In the end, the neighborhood's community association gains ownership and control of 14 units of public housing. Produced in collaboration with Sharp-Leadenhall Planning Committee, the film was screened at the Maryland Film Festival. (15:12)

This short documentary about the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service shows the unique role MVLS fills in Maryland's legal services community: providing pro bono services to the working poor. (5:00)

In 2005, the Public Justice Center celebrated its 20 years of pursuing systemic change through legal reform to build a more just society. This brief documentary is a tribute to PJC's groundbreaking work. (7:45)

This Megaphone Project production captures the passionate emotion, resolute action and articulate discourse of Baltimore's major anti-Iraq War demonstrations. (48:00)

Fed up with trash-choked alleys and empty lots, residents of Gorsuch Avenue turn to the Baltimore City government, but get no response. They resort to an in-your-face act of civil disobedience, piling trash in the middle of the street - and it works. Cleaning crews arrive and tote the garbage away. The first movie that Megaphone Project produced, No Option documents community activism at its most down and dirty. (13:00)

types of films

Narrative

This type of video is effective for projects with relatively simple messages and lower budgets. We create a script before we start filming that specifies the narration and visuals we need for every second of the video. There are no interviews; we just shoot the visuals we need and record the voiceover narration. Editing is much less time consuming. These videos can be very cost effective if you don’t need “real people” to tell the story to persuade your audience, because the narration is off camera and the narrator is anonymous.

Cost is dependent on the number of locations, days of filming, and complexity of graphics.

Documentary

These videos are the most effective format for advocacy videos. We start with the message we want to convey and a list of people who can best convey these messages. We shoot extensive interviews to make the points from a variety of points of view. We convey the messages through facts and anecdotal information. Powerful interviews are key. When we finish all the interviews, we pull the most powerful quotes from each person and then organize them to tell the story. We then write a script to fill in the holes and provide transitions, and we add graphics if needed. We record the voiceover and then do the editing.

Cost is dependent on the number of interviews, number of locations, days of filming, and complexity of the subject matter and graphics required.

Narrated Video

This type of video is effective for projects with relatively simple messages and lower budgets. We create a script before we start filming that specifies the narration and visuals we need for every second of the video. There are no interviews; we just shoot the visuals we need and record the voiceover narration. Editing is much less time consuming. These videos can be very cost effective if you don’t need “real people” to tell the story to persuade your audience, because the narration is off camera and the narrator is anonymous.

Cost is dependent on the number of locations, days of filming, and complexity of graphics.

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Megaphone Project • Baltimore, MD • (410) 625-1395 • info@megaphoneproject.org