Danielle Lauren: Director, the 11Eleven Project

Danielle Lauren - director of the 11Eleven Project

Today on Ideas Hoist we’re sitting down with the Director of the 11Eleven Project, Danielle Lauren. Danielle is passionate about conscientious entertainment. She believes that the arts can contribute both positively and significantly to global social change. Based in Sydney, Danielle is currently the Australian Ambassador for the “Charter for Compassion” and consults for ‘Australians for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’. Her not-for-profit experience includes financial and awareness campaigns for the Nelson Mandela Foundation, WIZO, the NSW Rape Crisis Centre and the AIDS council.

Thousands of people from 179 countries participated by recording their days and submitting their work to us.”

Creatively Ms Lauren has produced and directed a variety of film, television, theatrical and online productions. Her credits include ‘The Vagina Monologues’ ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Australian Idol’. She has developed projects for The Sydney Opera House, Sony Music, BBC, ITV and major Australian Broadcasters. Danielle completed her post graduate studies at the prestigious Australian Film, Television and Radio School and her Masters of Film from Sydney University. Currently Ms Lauren is the Founder and Creative Director of the 11Eleven Project.

What are you working on right now?

I’m just about to launch my first feature film as a Director. It’s called the 11Eleven Project and I feel so honoured to have brought this special film to life.

In short what it is – on 11/11/11 we asked people all around the world to capture their lives using film, photography, music, sound and text. Thousands of people from 179 countries participated by recording their days and submitting their work to us. I have had the honour of curating the work over the last year, which will result in a few projects which include a feature length documentary film and a world music collection. EVERYTHING you hear and see in the film (including the music soundtrack) was all recorded on 11/11/11. You can see a sneak peak below and find out where its screening here.


How do you make ideas happen?

Everyone is driven by passion and that’s how I believe you make an idea happen.”

What I like about this question is the word “happen”… We all have ideas, some excellent brilliant ideas, but thoughts in your mind which never see the life of day seem so tragic to me. I think of all the beautiful ideas that died with their creators because they were never brought into the real world. An idea needs to be an action – it needs to be put into action. To make it happen this is what I normally do.

Have a clear outcome of what I want to achieve

Have a greater purpose (to keep me motivated as it’s never easy – ie. My project will help make the world a better place for all people.) It helps me get through tough times – because there will always be tough times.

I find a kick ass team to support my vision – no one can do it alone…I work with the most wonderful people every day who inspire me to keep going and if you think, yes, with cash you can be surrounded by the best – you’d be mistaken. My team is made up of over 200 volunteers – no one is getting paid. Everyone is driven by passion and that’s how I believe you make an idea happen.

I never ever ever ever give up. Every problem has a solution and it’s only a matter of us finding that solution… I’ve had plenty of obstacles to overcome but I did it – because I know there is always a way to solve a problem. If I can’t find it then I know I’m approaching it the wrong way and so I try a new method. Everything is possible with perseverance.

What does your typical day look like?

I don’t ever have a typical day.

What challenges have you faced when starting or growing an idea in Australia?

We have to think Global – local is a façade – we’ve always lived in an international world but now with the advancement of the internet we can’t ignore it.”

Australia is such a special place. I feel honoured to be an Australian. I do feel that we have much give the world but I also feel we have much to learn. There are a few things that I do find frustrating about starting an idea in Australia which I wish we could solve.

A) Innovation – everyone speaks about it, but very few people are willing to be innovative – they speak about wanting to innovate but then also ask for proof the innovation will work. To innovate is to take risks and to be prepared to fail and not see it as a failure.  I have BIG BRAVE CRAZY WONDERFUL ideas, but I worry that Australia won’t support my next BIG IDEA because it’s HUGE and RISKY – and people don’t seem to want to take a leap of faith.

B) Global thinkers – I don’t know if Australians think of themselves on an international playing field, but I do. We have to think Global – local is a façade – we’ve always lived in an international world but now with the advancement of the internet we can’t ignore it. We’re competing on the main stage – my work will go up against films from major players such as the US, UK, France and India and I need to make sure it can stand its ground. I’m not making a product for Australians I’m making a product for humans – and everyone is invited. I’ve sat in many meetings with people who refuse to acknowledge there is a world outside of Australia that we need to keep in mind – and I believe that extends to social responsibility too.

C) Philanthropy and Investment – maybe I’m living in an idealistic bubble – but I’m confident that if I brought my ideas to a market such as America, I would get a lot more support and investment. I have found getting financial support for my ideas in Australia almost impossible. No one seems willing to put a dollar on the table – where as Americans seem to see the value of supporting a big idea and nurturing it. I recently spoke with members of the Chinese government who wanted to learn about the 11Eleven Project and they seemed more keen to assist then my own local government. If Australia doesn’t support the vision of young innovative thinkers they will be forced to go overseas. Already there have been some exciting opportunities offered to me by international players – but none of them in Australia… I think we need to offer something greater to our next group of leaders if we don’t want to lose our talent.

What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?

Talk to strangers – it will enhance your life in the most wonderful way.

What people/companies do you think are doing really cool stuff in Australia at the moment?

Hugh Jackman and Cate Blanchette – both of these fine actors could just spend their days be making millions acting in films and yet both of them have proactively engaged in projects of social awareness. Hugh is a passionate advocate for poverty and Cate is a true environmentalist. I find them both to be very inspiring.

Matt and Pip at TheLoop have allowed Australian creatives to display their work and connect with potential employers. It’s an amazing website that all Aussie artists should check out.

Omar Samad who runs Vibewire is such a special human being and is really a wonderful advocate for positive social change. Vibewire is a hub, an open workspace for social entrepreneurs to work, share ideas and create. They’re always holding wonderful events – definitely worthy of checking out.

Danny  Almagor at Small Giants – a company that invests in business’s that work towards the ideal world we want to live in. They support a range of products from Organic Tampons to wind farms – true changemakers I love it.

TOFOP – A podcast by Wil Anderson and Charlie Clausen – I think podcasts are going to continue to become more and more popular and this one is my favourite!

What about internationally?

Chris Anderson and the whole TED.com team are amazing.

I know they’re an oldie – but Apple have revolutionised the world and they deserve a shoutout.

James Cameron and Peter Jackson keep pushing the boundaries of technology and entertainment – they’re opening up more ways to self-express and I really like that.

What role do you think creative people should play in affecting social change?

Creative People are modern societies versions of philosophers – we’re the thinkers, the dreamers and must be the changemakers.”

Creative People are modern societies versions of philosophers – we’re the thinkers, the dreamers and must be the changemakers. If we cannot imagine it, we cannot create it and if we can imagine it, we must do something about it. Inspiration is almost ethereal – we tap into a much greater level of human conscience. With that privilege comes a responsibility and I feel there is a duty as creatives to contribute to positive social change.

Name 3 films you would recommend to our readers?

These 3 documentary  films will make you think…

These films will inspire you

Name 3 Australian’s we should follow on Twitter?

Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?

Yes, absolutely. We’re always looking for help.

What we’re looking for right now are people to assist us in marketing and publicity, creating a stronger online campaign and helping to get the word out. What we also need are people with networks both local and overseas – we’re getting people to host screenings across the world and we would love people to get involved with that. Plus we do need financial support – whether that’s purchasing a DVD of the film or talking to me about investing in the next BIG IDEA – we do need financial resources to support the vision.

Our readers are smart, creative, talented and good looking. Here’s your chance to ask them anything.

Can you help us take the 11Eleven Project to the world?

What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?

LaCroix in Potts Point followed by Skinny Dip in Bondi

We thought it would be cool to crowdsource an annual prize to award to the interviewee’s choice (each person interviewed gets one vote) winner for the year’s best interview. Are you willing to kick in a prize?

We’re happy to give a DVD of the film.

Make sure you sign-up to join our amazing community for Australians making ideas happen.

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