I'm a composer who writes music and songs for Cartoon Network. I also make short films! Last year I wrote a post asking if my filmmaking/songwriting skills could be put to use somehow to help promote EA ideas or charities. I ended up collaborating with The Life You Can Save to create this puppet and animation based mini-musical! It aims to playfully discuss some ideas around effective giving in the global health and development arena, and to promote The Life You Can Save.
I wanted the video to express my own joy at having found a way to make a large positive impact in the world, and to lightheartedly address some concerns people might have around global charities. For transparency's sake: I self-funded the production costs of the video.
I'd love to know what you think! If you like it please consider sharing it to help it get seen by more people. I hope it might pique some curiosity about TLYCS and gain more donations for their recommended charities.
As I understand it the team at TLYCS plan to create a pack to use this video as a kicking off point for educating children about effective giving, so I'm interested to learn if it's useful in that area.
I also wrote a supporter story on their website with a bit more personal background, if you're interested.
If you have any questions, comments or critical feedback fire away! I'd like to learn from this foray and hopefully lend my creative skills to future projects (not necessarily puppet-based!) in the EA world if it seems like a worthwhile thing to do.
This is brilliant.
Thanks alex! A lot of love went into it from all involved :)
I just saw this now and loved it, super excited for more content in the future!
I very much enjoyed the video. But I don't think it would have been able to change my mind in some alternative reality where I didn't already know about EA.
Thanks for the feedback Linda! That's really useful to know, can you identify any way it might have been more successful in doing that for you? I imagine it's hard to know because you DO already know about EA, but any guesses would be appreciated!
I wonder if it's even possible to change someone's mind in a three minute youtube vid? I was hoping more to spark interest for people to investigate further and make their own mind up.
One of my doubts about this vid is that it maybe tries to talk about too many different arguments, where it might have been more impactful if it focussed on just one message.
The format of the video is basically: "Do you worry about these things, then we have the solution." Integrated with some back and forth, that I really like.
"Do you worry about these things, then we have the solution." is a standard panther in commercials, for a good reason. I think this is a good panther also for selling idea ideas like EA. But it also means that you can just say you understand my concerns and that you have solutions, you have to give me some evidence, or else is is just another empty commercial.
The person singing about their doubts felt relatable, in that they brought up real concerns about charity that I could imagine having before EA. I don't remember exactly but these seemed like standard and very reasonable concerns. And got the impression that you (the video maker) really understand "my" (the viewers) worries about giving to charity.
But when you where singing about the solutions you fall a bit short. I don't think this video would win the trust of an alternative Linda, that your suggestions for charity is actually better. I think it would help to put in some argument why treatable decides, and how to lift the barriers you mention.
Every charity says they are special, so just it don't count for much. But if you give me some arguments that I can understand for why your way is better, then that is evidence that you're onto something, and I might go and check it out some more.
All that said, I re-wathced the video, and I like it even more now. The energy and the mood shifts are amazing.
On re-watching I also feel that a viewer should be able to easily figure out the connection between focusing on deceases and avoiding building dependency. But I remember that first time I watched is it felt like there where a major step missing link there. I think it is now when I know what they will say, this gives me some more time to reflect and make those connections myself.
But people seeing this on the internet might only watch once, so...
Watching it yet again, I think it would feel more right if the guy where not so easily convinced, but instead it ended with him, being "hm, that sounds promising, I'm going to learn some more".
Both the puppet really felt like real people with actual personalty to me, up until t=1:57. But then the guy just complexly changes his mind which broke my suspense of disbelief. I think that's the point when mostly started to sound like "yet another commercial".
Thanks for the thoughtful feedback Linda, and for taking the time to watch the video so many times! I appreciate it!
It's all good food for thought and I'm going to mull on it. I have to say I agree with your last point that when the purple character suddenly accepts TLYCS and changes his mind it feels too easy and unrealistic. This has been bugging me too, but I only noticed it when it was too late to change! Still, it's all good learning and hopefully the next project like this I work on I'll be able to use what I've learned to good effect :)
Thanks again for your time and consideration!
I don't have anything to say except that I loved this, and I'm really happy somebody is starting to present a warmer and fuzzier side of EA.
Thanks for the positive feedback Matt! I have to say, as someone outside the world of academia/ai/economics/nonprofits etc I sometimes find the face of EA a little dry and quite 'heady,' so I wanted to express the joyful feeling I had when I found out there was a way I could be more certain of my actions having a positive impact on the world! Every year when I donate I feel a great sense of satisfaction and purpose to know that there are highly effective ways to improve the lives of others, and that I can contribute to that. I think that's a message worth sharing!
This was fun to watch, and I'm sure to produce. For the most part I really liked it!
There was one part that struck me as off-base, around 1:22, where it says "Where otherwise they'd likely die!". There were a few reasons I found these few seconds problematic:
1. I felt that it implied TLYCS charities help save the lives of people who will otherwise die... e.g. it made me picture life-saving surgeries for people in critical care units. While there are many TLYCS charities that I'm unfamiliar with, no typically recommended EA global development organizations that I'm aware of prevent likely death. Rather, those that do save lives, help prevent disease, and as far as I know in no case the percent likelihood of death of an individual anywhere near 50% or greater without the intervention.
2. It felt like it was making light of the issue at that point as well. I think it would have been easy to continue the playful tone with a sad face and a bit of quietness at that time, with a slow ramp up of the volume later. Instead, it just breezed past it in a way that felt upbeat to me. FWIW, I also think that what felt to me a bit like making light of death made the video less credible to me.
Other, more minor, feedback:
1. I think it would likely have been better if shorter, or otherwise somehow more dynamic to justify the length. While there were a lot of great parts, I found it a bit repetitive and lost interest a bit.
2. I imagine the majority of the audience is American, and therefore I imagine the video would be better received, on average, if the main actor had an American accent rather than one of another country. An alternative could be to have the lyrics incorporated into the video to help with listening comprehension.
3. At 1:54, I was surprised by some of the icons. I'm not sure if there's a drinking water charity TLYCS suggests or not, but that's a less typical intervention for EAs to endorse. I also thought the mosquito would look better with a red circle and line over it or something.
I'm curious if there's a deployment strategy? I see the number of views is relatively low (currently 1.5k).
I was pretty surprised to discover that this wasn't to the tune of "I Want To Break Free".
Really enjoyed this, thank you. I especially liked the undertone of 'uncertainty isn't a reason not to try, it's a reason to find out more'. Good life advice in general, I think.
I'm not crying you're crying!
Thanks for your work. Good clear explanation. I think it's great that you and TLYCS are working together. I'll be really curious as to how this does. The puppet and animation quality is really high.
I think it's great for children though it should be made clear that's the target audience. I would worry adults in the altruism sector would see it and think TLYCS were being patronising towards them. Sometimes EA has this reputation anyway.
I think there is room for a darker/ more self depricating music piece for adults. Your other video (about economics) hit that tone well for me.
Looking forward to more stuff like this if you are gonna keep working on it. Maybe TLYCS tiktok? :P
Cheers for the kind words Nathan, and for all the feedback!
In actual fact I didn't make the video with children in mind originally, more as just a playful and colourful celebration of the work of TLYCS. I totally see how it comes across as aiming at kids (it's cartoons and puppets, fergoodnesssake), and I think based on feedback TLYCS received they've decided to use it this way. I really hope it isn't construed as being patronising, though I can see how it might!
I'm totally up for exploring other tones and ways to discuss ideas around EA, I think there are many creative ways to do this. I hope to do more projects in the future to help promote EA ideas and organisations (I'm busy with other work and new baby right now) and I'm excited about the different ways to do that.
I produce some rap and would enjoy collaborating if you'd ever like to.
Regardless, thanks so much for your work!
This is really cool. It's really great to see you put your talents toward promoting EA. I think you did an excellent job!
Thank you kindly Peter! I'm hoping I might be able to do more EA related video making in the future.