This post is also available in: Indonesia (Indonesian)
Homebound is an animated short documentary addressing migrant workers’ issues in Asia. The film focuses on the story of Tari, a female migrant worker who had planned to return to her homeland Indonesia after working in Taiwan for 10 years. But, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, her plans unravelled, and the lack of rights for vulnerable migrant workers was exposed.
The documentary, which premiered in February 2022, is directed by Ismail Fahmi Lubis and produced by Two Islands Digital, with support from Kurawal Foundation. Since then, Homebound’s designated impact producer Sofia Setyorini has continued to lead an ongoing impact campaign for the film that aims to:
- Increase Indonesian audiences’ empathy for Indonesian migrant workers (PMIs);
- Educate future migrant workers and their families on the rights and challenges of Indonesians working abroad; and,
- Influence the national government to implement zero cost processes for PMIs.
But starting an impact campaign can be a daunting task. Where to begin? How do you set realistic goals? How do you make sure everyone involved in the film agrees on the direction of your impact campaign? And how do you measure results?
In an interview with EngageMedia, Sofia shares her experience working on the impact campaign for Homebound, along with practical tips for other impact producers.
What have been the biggest challenges thus far?
Impact production is something new in Indonesia. I had to learn a lot as the impact producer for this film; it has really been learning by doing.
Can you share a bit on what you have learned thus far?
You need to really do your research! Migrant workers’ issues are not an easy topic and I have spent almost a year now studying. Before starting with Homebound I knew little, so I started reading articles, journals, blogs – everything I could get my hands on. I started reaching out to other organisations, activists, and former migrant workers, and discovered that migrant work is a deeply rooted, perennial issue that will not end here, not with this film.
In my discussion with existing advocates, I always asked them: Why are the problems surrounding PMIs always recurring? Through analysing answers, we identified three major issues:
- Access: PMIs have no way of knowing about their rights. Brokers (Calo) keep this info away from PMIs, thus creating dependency and weakening PMIs’ position.
- Broker networks are massive: They manage full supply chains – from recruitment at the lowest village levels and training, to shipment abroad and monitoring. These broker networks are so big that local action groups are no match. Hence, we need see them as part of the solution.
- Weak Village Governments (PemDes): They have little to no regulation or skills to protect their villagers. Often, they are unaware that their villagers are facing problems abroad despite the village government being the administrative starting point for the PMIs’ departure. Forging the identities of PMIs is a common practice that also adds to this problem.
From here, we started to develop our impact campaign and create the Impact Document which has guided our campaign.
What else can you share about starting an impact campaign?
1. Build networks proactively.
During your research stages, explain your impact goals and keep track of everyone you speak with. Stay in contact and keep updating them on your progress. Then, when it is time to start your campaign, they will be the main pushers of your content.
2. Trust is everything.
The affected communities involved in your film must trust you. Without this trust, your efforts mean nothing to them. Building this trust has been a tiring, but rewarding, process. This involves having endless late-night chatting sessions, intimate phone calls, and overnight visits to the homes of returned migrant workers. Nonetheless, the rewards are enormous. On a personal level, I have learned so much from the strength and resilience of migrant workers, and their involvement has helped make Homebound have more impact on the ground.
Women in Juntinyuat village (Indramayu, West-Java) at a local, self-organised screening of Homebound. (Photo by Eko Maryono-Migrant Care Kebumen)
3. Take care of your own mental health.
I felt a little shocked in the beginning. This was caused by several factors. Firstly, I had to listen to deeply traumatic stories of loss, intimidation, human trafficking, unwanted children, and sexual harassment. Secondly, my emotional involvement with affected community members became really intense, and at times it seemed Homebound ruled my life. As impact producers, we need to set boundaries: to step back at times and realise that listening to other people’s stories affects our own mental health. Finding that sweet spot between building trust and real connections with the communities we work with, while also respecting your own individual privacy, is a real challenge.
4. Allocate time for your impact campaign.
We are now trying to find more partners and additional funding for our impact campaign. We had originally budgeted for an impact campaign of two months. But this is way too short. You need at least one year for a serious impact campaign.
Homebound continues to be screened in Indonesia. Check the Homebound website for dates and locations, or to learn more about hosting your own screening (Bahasa Indonesia).
- Want to learn more about impact production? Read our interview with renowned impact strategist Lina Srivastava: Creating impact should never be an afterthought.
- Are you looking to design your own Impact Campaign? Get started right away using our Impact Campaign Builder.
- In 2021, EngageMedia organised an Impact Lab with filmmakers from across the Asia-Pacific. Read about the key learnings from this lab here.
- Thinking of starting a career as an impact producer? Gladys’ story, a personal and intimate reflection of what it’s like to become an impact producer in the Asia-Pacific in 2022, is a must read for you.