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Award-winning director, Pete Williams’ next passion project, The New Breed, follows social entrepreneurs, Miki Agrawal, David Stover et al., and Kohl Crecelius who’ve focused on impact areas such as female empowerment, environmental pollution, and poverty. Williams’ earlier work has been recognised with three consecutive MoFilm awards at Cannes Lions and with UK’s Channel 4 with his TV series Makers. Williams’ new documentary does exactly what a documentary should do: entertains without proselytizing, focuses on current world issues, interviews super-charged and proactive people, and shares a positive message for change.

Tell me about the moment at your advertising job when you knew it wasn’t for you, and you wanted to pursue directing.

In 2006 I left my home in Australia and moved to London, England. My first job in London was selling advertising space in a film magazine called, Screen International; my second week on the job the company flew me to the Cannes Film Festival and I was completely blown away by it! I wasn’t so excited by the red carpet glamour or celebrities; I really loved seeing deals go down between producers and distributors in the Palais, and in bars along La Croisette. I knew right away this is what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t want to be selling ad space in a magazine, I wanted to be a contender. I signed up for film school the next year and four years later I was flown back to Cannes, this time to receive a MoFilm award for a film I’d made.

What attracts you to documentary filmmaking?

Straight out of film school I made a self-funded web series called, Indie Cities. It was a bunch of short documentary films about young artists, living outside of mainstream corporate culture in Europe. To this day, these are the films I’m most proud of. I’ve tried other narrative forms like comedy, drama and stop-motion, but to be honest, I suck at them. I just can’t make them look cool. I also think there’s massive opportunity to progress the art of documentary right now. The days of shaky camera’s, poor lighting and boring talking-heads are over, documentaries are increasingly cinematic, engaging and creative. Plus more people are watching documentaries now thanks to Netflix, Vice and others… it’s a pretty exciting time for factual features.

What’s the inspiration for your new film, The New Breed?

I stumbled onto the term ‘social entrepreneur’ about three years ago while filming a TV series in North Africa. I met some young entrepreneurs who were using revenue from their eyewear company to help fix Tunisia’s crumbling tourism industry. The idea that business could be used to fix a social problem seemed earth shattering to me! After a little research I realised this movement was growing and quickly evolving all over the world, but so many people hadn’t heard of it. So I made it my mission to take social enterprise mainstream. I genuinely believe that Social Entrepreneurialism is the best way to make this a more equal, healthy and peaceful planet. It’s pretty clear we can’t rely on governments to look after the most vulnerable people and environments around the world.

Who’s your audience for this film?

Millennials are now the largest generation in the US workforce and by 2025, 75% of the global workforce will be millennials. This generation gets some serious flack for being self-entitled and lazy, but they really inspire me and they are the primary audience for my film.  Research shows Millennials have very different values to older generations; they value purpose over comfort and experiences over things, and they see themselves as global citizens rather than identifying with a particular race or country. One of the big creative decisions I’ve made with this film is to only feature millennials (people born between 1980 and 1998) on screen, so The New Breed will truly be a film about young people, for young people, by young people.  

What’s next on the horizon for you?

This film is the only horizon I can see for myself for at least the next 12 months. We plan to have the film finished and ready for submission to Sundance Film Festival by August, then I’m hitting the road for a 100 city college tour to spread the word. After that I promised my Mum I’d take her on a train ride through the Canadian rockies, I missed her 60th birthday last year because of this project, so I owe her big time!

For more info on New Breeds visit their official site at www.newbreed.tv

Written by | Leah Welch

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