This article originally appeared on Repair The World.
If you are fortunate enough to catch a screening of Ready, Set, Bag! in a movie theater, you will be doing more than just supporting a delightful independent film about state champions as they prepare for the National Grocers Best Bagger Competition. You will also be feeding the hungry. A dollar from each ticket sale is donated to a local food bank. This is the film distribution strategy of Oren Jacob, the film’s executive producer and his wife, co-director and producer, Justine Jacob.
The initial idea was not their own. It originated at film festivals in Austin, TX and Prescott, AZ where local organizers suggested that the pair do a fundraiser with the local food bank. “And it was just a really fun event,” Oren recalls of those first two screenings. “The audience was super stoked. They saw a fun, entertaining film and at the same time helped support the food banks and fed folks in their communities. When we decided to take the film out ourselves, we thought we should just do the same.” During the course of a single 100 person screening, they generate enough in donations to purchase 400-500 meals.
The most obvious beneficiaries are the needy people being fed-the film screenings have funded over 8,000 meals (and counting) thus far. But the hungry and food banks have not been the only ones to benefit from the fundraiser-film pairing. The partnership has greatly helped the movie. When asked if donating a portion of ticket sales has negatively affected the film’s bottom line, he emphatically insists that it’s quite the reverse. “No,” he says, “it actually enables us to have a bottom line. It’s a pretty central part of our operating procedures in the business. On a secondary level, to put together the kind of publicity and marketing team that can get our film out as effectively as the food banks’ publicists can would be very hard. It [the pairing] has increased our operational complexity and decreased our running costs pretty substantially.” He hopes that other filmmakers consider this sort of charitable partnership as not just something good to do for PR but as intrinsically helpful to their business.
Oren and his wife have been surprised at how gratifying it was to combine their professional pursuits and charitable impulses. “In my normal life, I go to work and make a salary. There’s not this whole other thing going on by helping people in need. But now every time we screen the film, or sell tickets to it or do anything that helps us get Ready, Set, Bag! out there, we are feeding people in need at the same time. And that adds a very positive, meaningful undercurrent to the business and it’s very motivating. Distributing an independent film is a very hard thing to do-millions of hours, countless sleepless nights-and it’s not like we’re going to make a 100 billion dollars on the movie. We’re not Avatar or Toy Story 3.”
Also, this has given them yet another opportunity to impress the importance of helping others on their three young children. Tikkun Olam is one of the rules in the Jacob house (along with other equally important gems such as “Safety first” and “Manage your own gear”). “We talk about tikkun olam with them a lot, about bringing positive change to the community that we live in,” Oren says.