In 2009, Aubrie returned to the US after traveling in several countries in Asia and teaching English for several months in Thailand. She knew that didn’t want to return to the film production career she left and wanted to lead some kind of venture that would enable continued traveling. A mentor introduced her to the world of social entrepreneurship and the idea that enterprise solve some of our toughest social or environmental problems. The deeper Aubrie researched the power of social entrepreneurship, the more enamored she became with it’s potential. She wanted everyone to know the stories and potential of these ‘changemakers.’
Drawing on her experiences from University, film production and world travel, an idea emerged to facilitate collaborations with emerging filmmakers and existing changemakers in order to tell their stories. Very quickly, she developed the concept of a Documentary Outreach program; a month-long intensive workshop where University students and recent graduates would learn to produce short documentary films that featured the work of changemakers around the world.
The Documentary Outreach study abroad program has been the primary focus of Actuality Media for the past ten years. The initial purpose was to tell stories about changemakers, but through an agile-like iterative process that was continually applied to our work, the true value of the programs was revealed.
The documentary production process happens to be an immersive experience, when done ethically and equitably. The work requires intense listening and reflecting, understanding details and the big picture, noticing patterns and creating connections. Going through this process was life changing for the students that traveled with us. The documentary was just the exercise, the learning came from the process. Travel becomes transformative when your every-day distractions fall away and you can be actually present. Only then can you connect, process, reflect and evolve.