Say What? David Jacobs


David Jacobs is the founder of The Outlook for Someday, which celebrates its 10th edition this year.

What’s the background to The Outlook for Someday?
I came to live in New Zealand in 1992 and the following year the Connected Media Trust was founded. Initially the Trust distributed an international range of films on sustainability issues, which came from Television Trust for the Environment, who I used to work for in the UK.

Alongside Connected Media there was also a production and programming company called Small World. We provided programming for Telecom (now Spark) which was then exploring opportunities for cable TV here, and we made documentaries for television including Rubber Gloves or Green Fingers which was commissioned by TVNZ and funded by NZ On Air.

That documentary was about the opportunity of New Zealand embracing organic agriculture. Unfortunately it found itself in controversy. We had to run a campaign to overcome TVNZ’s refusal to broadcast it. Following its eventual screening in 1997 there was a complaint to the BSA by Agcarm, which represents the agricultural chemicals industry .

Although the complaint wasn’t upheld it became clear to me that I wasn’t going to get any more documentaries commissioned. And with Telecom also withdrawing from the idea of cable TV, Small World had to fold. It was a difficult time and my confidence as a film-maker took a hit. But for some reason – I didn’t know what it was at the time – I felt it was important to keep Connected Media Trust going.

I did some film teaching at Whitecliffe College. Supporting young people and their film-making reignited my energy for using film to tell sustainability stories. My confidence returned and I decided that the trust was the right vehicle for the kind of work I do.

The Outlook for Someday ambassadors with Andrew Adamson

The Outlook for Someday ambassadors with Andrew Adamson

Connected Media made three documentaries for TVNZ and BBC World in 2005 under the umbrella title The Middle-earth Connection (Caring For The Woods, Growing Things, Changing The Future). The programmes connected The Lord Of The Rings with some of the environmental challenges facing ‘the home of Middle-earth’.

For Changing The Future I had interviewed Morgan Williams, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE). In 2006 he approached me to develop a film project to coincide with the 2007 celebrations to celebrate 20 years of the PCE.

The PCE gave us some development support, which is always a good way to help a project get going! At first I wasn’t sure what I was developing but at some point I realised that I wanted to create something that would have an ongoing life promoting sustainability film-making – rather than something one-off that would quickly become archival material.

Through Connected Media I had been advancing the idea of a media empowerment project for young people. Late one Saturday night the idea took off in my head. I rang Morgan on Monday and proposed to him the idea of an annual film challenge. And he went for it. So in 2007 we launched The Outlook for Someday sustainability film challenge for young people.