Oscar Nominee John Hoffman Tackles the Racial Wealth Gap with his Amazing Film, “The Barber of Little Rock”  – Transcript

Kirk: Welcome to Let’s Hear It.

Eric: Let’s Hear It is a podcast for and about the field of foundation and non profit communications, produced by its two co-hosts, Eric Brown and Kirk Brown. No relation.

Kirk: Well said, Eric. And I’m Kirk.

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Eric: So let’s get onto the show.


Kirk: Welcome in. Welcome back. You found us. We found you. We’re here. It’s another episode of Let’s Hear It. How you doing Mr. Brown? Welcome in.

Eric: It’s, you’re gonna make a wonderful Walmart greeter one of these days, Mr. Brown.

Kirk: The barker on the street corner, and we’ve got a pretty inexpensive five and dime for you. The price is free.

Eric: It’s a wonderful deal, isn’t it?

Kirk: Just your time. And I have to say, you’re never gonna get this time back and you’re glad you’re giving it to us because we’ve got a good conversation ahead. Let’s head to the barbershop. What do we gotta ahead Mr. Brown?

Eric: Like the car talk guys, you’ve wasted another great hour of your day.

I spoke with John Hoffman, who’s the director of a, co-director, rather, of the new film, Barber of Little Rock, which has just been nominated for an Academy Award for a documentary short film. John is the co-director of this film with Christine Turner, who sadly was unable to have the conversation with us, so I spoke to John.

This film is one of those, it’s a short documentary, short nominated for an Oscar. Some of you may remember that John Hoffman directed this film called The Antidote. Hmm. And he and his co-director, uh, were on as guests a while back. Hmm. And he’s back because a, it’s a fabulous film and it really does have a huge implication for philanthropy and nonprofits and communications and all that stuff.

It actually really fits with what we do on this podcast. Yes, it does. And it is under currently under consideration. So if there are any. Any Stray Academy members out there, I urge you to see the film and, and then of course, I’m sure you’ll vote for it for Best Documentary Short.

Kirk: Yeah. Let’s be clear. It’s Oscar season.

We’re trying to curry favor, curry votes for the Barber of Little Rock. Uh, this is, uh, directed by John Hoffman and Christine Turner. This is John Hoffman talking about the Barber of Little Rock on let’s hear it. Let’s listen to Eric and John and we’ll come back.


Eric: Welcome to Let’s Hear It. My guest today, back for a repeat performance, is John Hoffman, the co-director of the new film, the Barber of Little Rock, which has just been nominated for an Academy Award for a documentary short film. John, I cannot tell you how delighted I am for you now and how thrilled I am to speak to you about this film. So I should point out that you are the co-director of this film with Christine Turner, who was unable to join us for this conversation.

But we wanted to have it now so that we could put this episode out while your film is still under Oscar consideration because every vote counts. John, thank you so much for joining us on Let’s Hear It.

John: Um, Eric, I can’t thank you enough, and on behalf of Christine and the entire team that made this film, it’s an honor to be with you.

I love talking with you. I always love talking with you. We’ve known each other for a long time, and so to be. About this film at this moment. For me, I sort of crazy moment of being nominated for an Oscar, it’s, it’s a lot to process. I’m very happy about it. But to be able to have this light shown on our film and I, for it to bring attention to what the film is about is, or I should say added attention, special attention is really special.

Eric: Well, let’s just dive right in. First of all, congratulations on this film. It is a beautiful movie that is at a successful, on so many levels. It’s great storytelling, it’s great character study, and as you say, it puts a highlight on an issue that I think is.

Far underappreciated and we can get at, get into that a little more deeply later on. But just tell us a little bit about the Barber of Little Rock. Who is he and what do we need to know?

John: So the Barber of Little Rock is a man named Arlo Washington. And Arlo is a barber who is probably in his mid forties, black man in Little Rock, Arkansas.

He, uh, spent his whole life in Little Rock and he became a barber when he was in his late teens after his mother died, leaving him with responsibilities of two younger sisters and finding his way in the world. And Arlo, uh, started cutting hair and within a short time became, uh, successful supporting himself and.

He eventually opened up a barber college, Washington Barber College, where you learn in the film that since its founding, has sent 1500 barbers out in the world, into the world to make a life and a living as a barber. And then, and 2000, starting in 2008, you started making loans, informal loans to. 2014, and you’ll,

Eric: I’ll interrupt for a second. He made loans of people, people just come to him and ask for money.

John: Yeah. So barbers and barber shops, uh, play a very big role in the black community. They are relationship between barber and his or her customers is a very strong one. And the atmosphere of of barbershops is a very, very valued treasured.

Place for, particularly for black men, and it’s place where a lot of conversation goes on, A lot of fun happens and the barber is a really highly respected and revered person in the community. And Arlo, like many, had a solid, um, financial footing and his customers, you know, were facing hardship. Needed a loan to keep his car going so he could get to a job interview and, and these stories kept, and Arlo would give somebody a hundred bucks, they would pay him back.

And he came to realize, he tells the story in the film, he came to realize that these small dollar loans were having an outsized effect on the lives of the people. He was, you know, interacting with his customer’s lives and he is inspired to become a banker to, to start –

Eric: As one does, right?

John: As one does. But not to become a banker in the way that we might think.

Arlo opened up a nonprofit loan and he has been doing this in a, in a, in a very meaningful way since he. Became Community Development Financial Institution, which is a program created by Bill Clinton in his administration, and it’s administered by the Fed. And he got his license to be Christine in 2016.

And Arlo has changed thousands of people’s lives, small business loans, personal loans, and he has brought access to capital to a community that has been. Systemically cut out of authentic neutral system.

Eric: Not only that though, it’s interesting. Arlo has become kind of a one-person bridge span in that somebody comes in for a loan and they’ll, he’ll ask of a bunch of questions like, oh, what are you gonna use the money for?

What kind of business do you have? And how do you think about how you do your business? And how are you thinking about marketing and all these other things? And pretty soon. It sounds to me, and I could be extrapolating from the film, but he really becomes a business consultant as well as a source of of money that many people take incredibly for granted.

These are not just business loans. They’re loans so that somebody can get their car running again, or they’re the things that people who normally have access to credit. Can just, you put it on your credit card if you don’t have the cash. And, and many folks, they don’t have that OP opportunity, but Arlo was kind of like a one stop shop for how to think about building a community.

Can you, can you say a little bit more, some of the examples that, that you, I’m sure you, since you shot hundreds and hundreds of hours of film, you must have so many stories.

John: It was a very, very moving experience anytime you were with Arlo, because as Arlo would arrive. At the first branch of People Trust Loan Fund, which is a shipping container in the parking lot of the Barber College converted shipping container into an office, whether it was there or it was downtown Little Rock, or it was in a parking lot.

The ranch in North Little Rock, Arlo sat up his car and he can’t walk 10 feet without someone coming up to him. Hey, Arlo. The level of unmet need in the black community of Little Rock is something which is evident to the eye as you are moving through the community, but the stories that we’re talking about are unfolding. As I say, he can’t walk 10 feet and he can’t not talk to people who are in front of him. It’s part of his character.

He must. He is. He is someone who is always in the moment and he is responding and giving. The person who’s in front of him, whether he knows them or not, is full attention. We’re talking about a kind of financial institution that Clinton recognized needs to exist because in many parts of this country, whether it’s because they are rural or because they are urban and there are communities of color.

Have been historically excluded from my, from the financial system and the ways in which people are evaluated for being a low or a high risk for a loan, that the metrics that the financial system, the main financial system uses, these people are cut out. They are excluded from the financial system. So this is a kind of what you’re talking about, Liz, when Arlo is.

Talking to people about what is their job, what is their business plan and what do they, you know, what kind of business are they trying to operate? What do they need their loan for? This is high touch banking. This is Arlo and his remarkable team using very, very different metrics. They’re not using, you know, your credit score to evaluate the, the, the risk.

Someone’s risk for a loan. They are, do you have a bank account? Do you have a job? How much do you make? These are very logical things to ask, but your typical banker is only their starting point is a credit score. If you have been cut out the financial system. You don’t have an opportunity to build up a credit rating, and so Arlo has to use other metrics, and Clinton understood this, and so the CDFI program, community development, financial institutions were designed.

The legislation was written so that someone like Arlo can evaluate risk in very different ways. We can get into the history of how this came about, but it is. Deemed really the only program that the federal government has created since Reconstruction that enables black owned financial institutions to succeed.

Eric: Arlo, as you point out, he graduated from high school. His mother passes away and he goes right into cutting hair and doesn’t have an MBA from Stanford. He’s completely, it seems, self-taught to. What does he attribute his own ability? To navigate this for most people, incredibly arcane system of getting money from very, very powerful places and distributing it into places that didn’t and don’t have that kind of power.

What kind of magical herbs, uh, was he sprinkled with or like, what is it about Arlo and how does he, how do you think he, he. Talks about how he got to this place.

John: I, I hope people see the film. And I wanna point out, film is a New Yorker film, so it could be screened at, uh, new yorker.com and it could be screened on YouTube.

So there’s no barrier to entry. People can find the, that they have a computer, they have access to the internet, and you will see Arlo. Is a man who just moves forward. He is just a shark that is constantly swimming forward and he is incredibly smart guy. When Arlo started making these loans and this idea that he had to create a loan fund to create, just to start making any kinds of business loans, his uncle was working as a security guard at Christine.

Chicago and he says, Arlo, you show up up CDFI. Arlo goes to the computer and he downloads the legislation and he reads the legislation. And I don’t know if you or the people who listen to your podcast have ever really read legislation, but it’s, it’s actually quite interesting and it’s quite illuminating and the legislation lays it all out.

It gave Arlo basically all the instructions of how to open up A-C-D-F-R. When you talk to people who work in this field who studied this field, there’s a woman named Donna Gambrell, and Donna was the first director of the CDFI program appointed, appointed by Clint 40 years ago to create this program, and she’s now the president of the National Association of Black Bankers Donna, who introduced, I was watching a conversation.

Bill Clinton and Donna talking about when they started this program 40 years ago, and Donna describes Arlo as really the living embodiment of the legislation as it was written. This high touch banking, this deep relationship with the people you’re making worlds to, to really understand their lives and to give them the training that they need. Have to not only understand about having this debt that they have to pay back, but to look at their business plans and to really help them to open up or expand their small businesses. So CDFIs have been around for a long time now, and many of them as. Donna says, and as Arlo says, or yes, take an elevator to get, but Arlo is in that shipping ticket, and that’s the way, that’s the spirit of what they were meant to be.

Eric: Well, we’re gonna take a very quick break. We back with John Hoffman, the co-director of this, I mean, really incredible film, Barbara of Little Rock. Co-director with Christine Turner and, uh, and we’ll talk more about documentary film, why it matters, and we’ll talk more about this, this issue, this thing that we have to deal with, the racial wealth gap. So we’ll be right back with John Hoffman after this.


Eric: You are listening to Let’s Hear It, a podcast about foundation and nonprofit communications hosted by Eric Brown and Kirk Brown. If you’re enjoying this episode, you may just be a rule breaker. Tune in to Break Fake Rules, a new limited series podcast with Glen Galaich, CEO of the Stupski Foundation. Hear from leaders in philanthropy, nonprofits, government, media, and more to learn about challenges they’ve overcome by breaking fake rules and which rules we should commit to breaking together. We are also sponsored by the Conrad Prebys Foundation. Check out their amazingly good podcast, and we’re not just saying that, Stop and Talk, hosted by Prebys Foundation CEO, Grant Oliphant. You can find them at stopandtalkpodcast.com. And now back to the show.


Welcome back to Let’s Hear It. I’m speaking with John Hoffman, my friend, co-director of the Oscar nominated film for documentary short film. The Barber of Little Rock, you’ve found this phenomenal character who tells an really important story about how communities have been left out of the banking system, but not just the banking system.

It’s what that banking system does. And Arlo in the film says that that money is like blood. It circulates, you know, blood circulates through the body. It keeps you healthy, it builds you up. It allows you to do the things you need to do, and, and money is the same thing as it circulates through the economy.

It provides opportunities, it gives people the chance to invest, to try new things, to be creative, to expand, to build their community, and, and yet our system has systematically, historically denied. Swaths of our population, the chance to be able to do that. The fact that CDFIs are frankly little known that there we have this sort of, there’s this one, frankly, small tool to use is amazing.

What you’re doing is to try and tell that story. Where do you see. This going, what have you heard back from folks who have seen the film? Do you think that there’s this potential, and we’re getting into the power of storytelling, frankly, to begin to make real headway in this? In this issue?

John: I have the great privilege as a documentary film maker to immerse myself with every film into a whole new world and topic, a whole new culture.

And one of the things that unifies. Films that I’ve been making throughout my career is that I’m very, very committed to my films offering solutions to the complex problems that the film is illuminating. And so when Christine and I were given this opportunity in this past of making a film that’s looking at the racial wealth gap, that was the challenge.

There was no definition beyond that. So you can start reading, you start talking, you start opening your mind to a whole, you know, new worlds. And along the way, we were pointed to a book called The Color of Money. Which is by a woman named Mehrsa Baradaran who was at UC Irvine. And it’s about the history of black banking in this country, um, since reconstruction.

And it is about the series of failures in, in that, in that history. And she is the one who points to CDFIs as the only thing the federal government has done that you can, uh, say is working and is, you know, by design. The concept and design is, is creating financial opportunity and stable financial opportunity in the communities where we see advice.

It’s not $10 billion a year, it’s a drop in the bucket when the racial wealth gap is literally a trillion. I’d never heard of CDFIs before. Christine had never heard of CDFIs before. We start, you know, immersing ourselves in this and we find that there’s really some interesting storytelling opportunity here and that these high touch, that means that you’re gonna be following and, and having the opportunity to see relationships.

You could possibly follow the money, you could see what happens when somebody who has been cut out of the financial system now has. Access to capital and can follow his or her, can open up that small business that he or she knows is going to work, and you can see how that changes lives. Okay? Not only the life of the person getting the loan and starting the business, but then the people that he or she employs and how that access to capital lifeblood of the economy.

It does build opportunity, it builds community. Okay? So that’s the grand opportunity that we saw our saw for ourselves and it is the opportunity to if, if successful point to a solution. So Donna Gambrell mentioned earlier, who was the first director of the program from Clinton says, you gotta meet this guy, Arlo Barbara.

It’s got the shipping container in the parking lot of his, you know, barber college. So we meet Arlo over Zoom this at the time of Covid. Um, and we shot throughout Covid over a year’s period. And Arlo is really charismatic guy. He’s a handsome, charismatic, um, incredibly compassionate guy. Um, and you along the way, we met.

Wonderful people. Lin, she’s a beautician who is now getting her barber’s license. Who wants to open up her own, you know, barbershop and you see her graduate from Barber College and get her first chair. Okay? You meet Terrance, you know, who is a guy who was managing a Jiffy Lube franchise. New owner comes in.

Previous owner sells the franchise. New owner of the franchise lets everyone go ’cause it’s cheaper to have all new employees and to pay the higher salaries of existing employees. Okay, so Terrence Lose is his job. He’s been managing GP Lubes, he’s knows the how to run a, a autobody shop Comes to Arlo, gets a 50,000 loan –

Eric: Which, I started crying. When he got the loan, I just started crying. This is a film that’s not just about something that makes you frustrated or angry, it just makes you happy, right. And, and deeply connected to these lives that, that folks like Arlo is able to touch. And I just wanted to, to check in for a second because if I understand this correctly, some of the funds that Arlo is dispersing are grants.

They, so he is, he is receiving charitable. Support as well as support from the Fed. So he’s making loans that get repaid and some of these loans are, they’re not loans, they’re grants, and they’re not meant to be repaid in a sense he’s operating as also as a community foundation, if you think about it. Is that, is that an accurate description of the, the how the money flows?

John: Yes. Okay. Arlo opens up. Financial institution, but the level of need in the community and the, the, the, the level of emergency need in the community is off the charts. And so Arlo has people coming who you see in the film, but it’s a common occurrence. Whether it’s because apartment building burned down or it is because their car is broken down, whatever it is, there is an emergency need and.

Arlo has been empowered to make these emergency grants. The Winter Rockefeller Foundation gives tremendous support to Arlo to make these emergency grants because Arlo, just because of the respect and the notoriety that he has developed, people who should be often recipients, benefits from social service agencies are, are not, again, because of structural.

The problems in our, in our society. And Arlo is just somebody who it, the need is right in front of him. It’s an emergency. And so he has funds. It’s not just the Wither Rockefeller, it’s others, so that he can make these grants.

Eric: So, okay, so I’m gonna jump in here with a little bit of, uh, I don’t know what I wanna call it, bloviating, about what foundations can do and probably should do.

For starters, we’ve had this long conversation over the years about the 95% of most foundations. Capital sits in an account earning interest or whatever it earns, and so that they can pay out the 5% in the form of grants to organizations and many folks have spoken about the challenge with that will be charitable call it a challenge, but it also seems that you could take some of that 95% if you are an organization, a foundation that believes in.

Justice. If you believe in equity, if you believe in providing community support and all that kind of stuff, it feels like you ought to be able to take some of that 95% of capital and invest it into institutions like Arlo’s Times, acry in any, almost any community in this country. It seems like a real obvious opportunity, and I think that for all the foundation folks who listen to this podcast, I would.

Urge you first to see this film and to be inspired by what is possible if Arlo, you know, Arlo has this incredible ability to see what is possible, and I think we all should be able to learn from him about that. Now, the second part is what film does and how this medium is so extraordinary. You could have written a white paper.

That would’ve had zero effect. But instead, you’ve told this story of an extraordinary human being who’s making a difference, and you’re teaching us about the issue underneath it. Can you just spend a few minutes talking about the alchemy of documentary film?

John: Well, I think that the simplest way to describe what I do is that I take people, places they otherwise would never go to meet people they would otherwise never meet.

I work in this highly emotional medium camera when handled heartfully by great cinematographers, and Tony Hardman did an incredible job shooting this film. The ability to disappear in a room where life is unfolding and complicated life, and people who are willing to open up about their deepest challenges.

And we knew. That if we had Arlo’s Trust and it, there’s no documentary without trust it, it is entirely built on trust relationships. And so it started with winning Arlo’s Trust and then by extension, Arlo brought that trust into every room that he was in, and you knew. We were confident that the people who were coming to see Arlo or anyone he was interacting with would feel comfortable with the presence of the camera, and they would forget that the camera is there.

And so that’s what, when we are able to spend enough time and we did shoot 400 hours over the course of a year, you are able to capture enough moments that film is. Basically a sequence of moments strung together in a way that tells something larger. It it not only, yes, it captures the moment when Terrance finds out he gets this 50,000 loan, but because of what comes before and what comes after it is saying something larger and it’s communicating that this moment is much more than $50,000 for one Auto Lake anecdote shop.

It is that in the black community, there’s a man who was able to create opportunity for people in his community that otherwise would never have that opportunity, Terrance, because other aspects of his life would not qualify. Furlough a maternal financial institution, Arlo is the only place he could have gone without money.

So we are saying so much more than just one loan. And circling back to my approach to this art form, which is not, it’s not typical actually, in that I’m committed to it being solution oriented. What Arlo is doing is eminently replicable, and you ask about what can be done with, so. Well, you could write a white paper about how, how to open a CDFI and no one would read it and no one would really understand what is the character that is necessary to do what Arlo does.

And you see that there are Arlos in every community. They can see this film and they could say, I didn’t know about this. I could do that. They could learn from, or, and then you can, you, the film just starts conversations. It opens hearts and minds to possibility. One of the beautiful things about documentary is that most often we are dealing with really tough subject and subjects, and they’re topics that people are often uncomfortable starting to talk about.

So what happens is you have, you can talk about Arla, no, talk about yourself. We can talk about Arlo. Arlo becomes the common denominator in the conversation. Everyone can rest his or her reaction and and, and how the film impacted them. And then you can start talking about your own community. You can start talking about the challenges in your, and that’s one of the rewards of doing what I do, is that I get to make these films that start important conversations.

Eric: Another kind of plug to our brethren and sistern in the philanthropy community. Maybe consider funding one fewer white paper and one more documentary. Because the stories are the things that we remember. The the things that. Settle in our lipids. They’re the things that kept us from getting eaten by the saber-tooth tiger.

And they’re the things that will carry us through to the future. And you, you have told this story about sort of the George Bailey of Little Rock in, in Arlo, Washington, but uh, John also, I would say that you are the George Bailey. And I deeply appreciate you and your work and the work of your co-director, Christine Turner.

Thank you so much for making this film. Thank you for speaking with us. And I can’t wait to talk to you, you know, after the Oscars in shallah.

John: Thank you. Thank you. And Eric, you know what you do and the sensitivity and the compassion you bring to. Your work we all benefit from, and so I can’t thank you enough for inviting me on and I treasure you and all you do with.

Eric: Well, it’s a love fest. John Hoffman, thank you again.


Kirk: And we’re back. How do you get to hang out with all the cool people? I love that John’s back on the podcast. I love that we’re here in Oscar season. This has been Oscar nominated and um, here’s John going at it again with another great, uh, addition to his incredible IMDB.

By the way, go check out the John Hopman IMTP, and you’re gonna see a lot of really good work on there that John’s been involved with.

Eric: Yes, John has multiple, multiple Emmys, but no Oscars. And, uh, this is, this is so exciting. Uh, sadly, I, I tried to help raise some money for, for this film, and I failed. Had I, I, I would’ve been an Oscar nominated producer.

Kirk: Oh, you would’ve been a producer. That’s awesome.

Eric: Well, if I had raised enough money, I’d have been produc. Well, this is a story, this is one of those stories that is so layered in terms of what we do. Yeah. As people who work in philanthropy or nonprofits or communications. For that matter. Yeah, because a Arlo is such a fascinating character and a wonderful guy, and an example of how a community.

Can build on itself and how, you know, yes, it’s true that here’s one guy who came up with a great idea and is moving things forward. But it’s not about one guy. This is not about somebody who comes in and solves and saves every everybody’s lives or solves everyone’s problems. It’s about a community coming together to make itself better, to build on its great assets.

I mean, this is like kind of the ultimate example of asset framing as traian shorters. Mm. We talk about our, all of our guests seem to be talking to each other, but it’s just such a wonderful story. And I also, I think I, I made a little comment there that if, you know, we produced one fewer research.

Project and one more documentary,

we, you know, we might have a little better chance of A, getting the message out. B, encouraging people about new things that they wouldn’t have otherwise known about. And C kind of. Uh, telling great stories that make a difference.

Kirk: Well, and John picks up where he’s been working with all these very interesting and thoughtful topic areas, and this time working with Christine Turner on Barber of Little Rock.

And you could almost view this as much as anything as a piece on post presidential communications, because what’s at the center of the story? The Community Development Financial Institution Fund. That’s a mouthful. The community development. Financial institution fund. And sure enough, the Clinton Center is gonna be screening this film because this is a positive piece of policy that carries on from the Clinton administration aimed at trying to drive dollars into, uh, communities that otherwise are systemically cut out of this process.

And here you have Arlo, Washington. What. What a perfect character on which to build this story of first, I’m a barber, I’m deeply situated in my community, and then I read some legislation and now I’m ready to roll out this whole new people’s trust in my community. Little Rock. What a story, what a person.

And, and, and I kept thinking this to be like Deep history documentary. No, this is happening right now. This

is, this is a snapshot of what’s been

happening over the past 10 and 20 years in this community.

Eric: Here’s another thing. Ooh, that’s another thing that I, that I’m reminded of, which is if you, if you’re of a foundation and you have an endowment, and, uh, most foundations do have endowments, why don’t you maybe take some of that endowment money and put it into one of these institutions or.

Help somebody start one and, and support it. I mean, this is, there are so many things that the money does and uh, yes, it’s true that you can take 5% of it and put it into nonprofit organizations while the other 95% sits there basically. And these are assets that are clearly making a difference. So that’s just one more thing that a foundation can do with its money to advance ideas like this that are.

Clearly making a difference that are absolutely building wealth. They are beginning to redress historical deprivations policies that were designed to let people out, to exclude them from opportunities.

Kirk: Yeah. These are so, these communities that have been systemically left outta the financial system, so.

So the Barber of Little Rock, it’s not just documentary, but it’s documentary short. So this is a 35 minute long piece that New Yorker is involved with. And you can see it on YouTube. It’s for free. Talk to me, Eric, about first documentary, but also short documentary because I, I love this idea of condensing these stories down to these very powerful, impactful.

Timeframes and frameworks. You can just click this on, see it on your computer, see it wherever you’re gonna see your YouTube content, and boom, you’ve got this incredible gift of what’s been covered here by John and Christine.

Eric: Well, there are so many different, there are many different ways to tell stories.

You can go into the movies and you can see a feature like film, or you can produce something in a, in a package like this, which presumably has greater opportunity to. For more eyeballs for sure. It doesn’t have the kind of financial, you know, you always wanna be the inconvenient, inconvenient truth or one of these great, you know, documentaries that makes a lot of money.

But that’s not the point. The point is to tell a story and John tells a great John and Christine. Tell a great story about a fabulous person and I want everybody within the sound of our voice to go. We will obviously link to it on the website, but to go and and hear this story, and if you work in a foundation, figure out how can I support this type of storytelling

Kirk: Well, I love how John talks about this, he likes to take people to places you otherwise wouldn’t go to meet people you wouldn’t otherwise meet.

This is the purpose of documentary. So I’m listening to you guys talk. I’m checking out this stuff, looking at all the reviews, and I’m thinking to myself, given that we live in an era where video is ubiquitous because we all have access to it, why are we writing anymore? I. Why are we writing? Like you talked about this from the standpoint of foundations invest in people’s trusts, also invest in documenting work like this.

But why isn’t the primary form of communication we’re using between us and our constituents, us and our funders? Why are we doing all this by video? What’s, what, what is the, where’s the written word? And I’m sure some of our past guests are just, you know, uh, up in arms about this comment. ’cause we’ve got some great writers.

There’s a great journalists, some written word, journalists, uh, that have been on the podcast in the past. But isn’t there part of you that’s like, why are we writing anymore? Why aren’t we just talking about these stories, telling these stories, using video, using audio? Why isn’t this, why isn’t this where we’re living?

Eric: A, I think 10 or 15 people just unsubscribe from the podcast, myself included. I’m not listening anymore. Talking rot. I don’t know. I mean, we, we write because that, we’ve been writing and reading for thousands of years, so there’s that. I mean, we’re kind of good at it. And, and it’s a useful way to communicate.

I mean, I, I think one of the, the other points are. That you gotta do everything. Mm-Hmm. And different people get information in different ways and different things obtain in different ways, stick in in different ways, and you kind of have to do everything. Mm. And I don’t know, I think words are beautiful.

I love them and speaking them is nice. And seeing video is good and reading them on the paper is good. I’m a, I print stuff out. I’m like one of those true. Tralo diets living in the side of the cave. I print things out and I have to sit back if I wanna read it and understand it. I can’t just lean in into a screen and, yeah, it’s true.

I, I love film. I love film and, uh, film didn’t love me, but I loved it. And so I think it’s a great medium and. And the very short stuff. Of course, we, we all decry the, whatever, the two minute detention span of TikTok, but there’s value in there too, for sure.

Kirk: Well, I guess the bottom line is with the intention and strategy behind it.

Clear eyes. Clear eyes on our goals. It’s really in all the above strategy across all this, right? It’s like you wanna deliver, it’s all these tactics in whatever way it makes the most sense.

Eric: There’s one thing I wanted to talk about. Hmm. There’s this film I, I read about in the New York Times called Mr.

Bates versus the Post Office. It’s a, it’s a, a, um, scripted film starring Toby Jones as this guy who, uh, worked at the post office in the uk and he, he’s playing a real person who was, uh, charged with fraud because there was, for one reason or another, they didn’t have their accounting right in the UK post office.

And he and all these other post. Masters, most people were, were charged with fraud and they couldn’t get their fraud charges expunged until this film came out. And then in a week, wow, the, the British government, like decades, this, these guy has been fighting, uh, the British government of this. And this film comes out and people’s like, oh my God, look at what’s going on to these poor people.

And what they had been fighting for decades about in a week got fixed because of a film. So we respond to these types of media. They tell stories and they communicate with us that move us to action in ways that other media don’t. And that’s why I think this film is wonderful if, if 10 communities don’t start community banks, right?

Like Arlos, if you’re seeing, you know, after this film comes out and hopefully after it wins an Oscar, I will be shocked because that’s how stuff happens sometimes.

Kirk: And what a gift that would be. Well, man, John and Christine, thank you so much. This is Barber of Little Rock, we hope, fingers crossed, best wishes for your Oscar campaign.

We hope you get your Oscar and Eric, thank you for bringing you John on the podcast. That was awesome. Awesome, awesome. Go find it. Check it out, Barber of Little Rock.

Eric: Well thanks and see you next time.


Kirk: Okay, everybody. That’s it for this episode. Please let us know if you have any thoughts about what you heard today or people we should have on this show, and that definitely includes yourself. And we’d like to thank…

Eric: Our indefatigable producer, Harper Brown.

Kirk: John Allee, the tuneful and inspiring composer of our theme music.

Eric: Our sponsor, the Lumina Foundation.

Kirk: And please check out Lumina’s terrific podcast, Today’s Students, Tomorrow’s Talent, and you can find that at luminafoundation.org.

Eric: We certainly thank today’s guest, and of course, all of you.

Kirk: And most importantly, thank you, Mr. Brown.

Eric: Oh, no, no, no, no. Thank you, Mr. Brown.

Kirk: Okay, everybody, till next time.