Anniversaries are the perfect time for an organization to reflect on what it has accomplished, reconnect with the people that helped make it a success, and reach out to the next generation that’s going to continue its mission.
COFI (Community Organizing and Family Issues) took advantage of this opportunity for its 25th anniversary. It partnered with Civic Matters (at the cusp of the COVID-19 pandemic) to produce a video that looks at the beginnings of the organization, and shows how the efforts of those first parents created lasting impact in their community.
Maria Alvarez was one of COFI’s first parent activists. After immigrating from Mexico, Maria settled in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago with her husband and three children. She was driven to join COFI after witnessing the overcrowded conditions of her son Oswaldo’s elementary school. The training she received through COFI empowered Maria to become an activist and fight for better conditions in her neighborhood’s schools. Oswaldo eventually followed in his mom’s footsteps and is now working as a community organizer.
Civic Matters worked with COFI to help tell Maria and Oswaldo’s inspiring story in a commemorative video. From the onset, we collaborated closely with the COFI team to understand their unique vision for the project. The Civic Matters team spearheaded the pre-production process, creating a shoot schedule, and prepping shot lists and interview questions.
We filmed for one day in and around Maria's home in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood. Recording in someone’s home requires a lot of trust. The Civic Matters team made sure to create a comfortable and supportive environment for Maria and Oswaldo during the shoot. We wanted the footage to have a naturalistic, personal feel so before conducting the interviews, we captured Maria and Oswaldo as they went about their normal routine—chatting over a cup of coffee, feeding their pet birds, and walking through the neighborhood. We also filmed Maria and Oswaldo as they looked through old photos and reminisced about their time with COFI.
This shoot present the Civic Matter’s team with a notable challenge. We interviewed Maria in Spanish, her native tongue. During the post production process, we had the footage translated into English, and added closed captions for the entire video. By embracing the challenge of working with a different language, the video not only reached a wider audience but allowed our subject to share her story authentically.
In the end, the video was a touching story of a mother and her son. It not only showcased the power of parents becoming leaders in their community, but also became a well-timed chance for COFI to highlight their transformative work. When the world went virtual, the video was still able to take the audience inside Maria’s house and show the difference COFI had made in her life.
The completed video was distributed through email newsletter, social media channels, and the COFI website just in time for their 25th anniversary.