In May 2011, APU Alumnus, Anders Lindwall and Ricky Staub came together to start their company, Neighborhood Film Co.
Their for-profit company based in Philadelphia creates short documentaries, commercials, music videos and promos. They have worked for brands such as Nike, Anthropologie, Levi, Comcast, Random House Inc, and many more.
What is different about this company is that they are doing more than making films.
“Our mission is to employ and mentor men or women coming out of homelessness, incarceration and addiction,” Staub said.
The idea stemmed from the mutual discomfort of working every day and seeing people hungry and cold on their way home.
“Ricky was working on these big movies and I was freelance directing and we felt like we could do more and it was tough for us to help or feel like we could do anything other than volunteering on the side. And all we knew how to do was make videos,” Lindwall said. “Originally it started as an idea to make a giant feature film and hire a crew of people who were from the streets, which is essentially what we’re still doing, but we just turned it into the form of a company. “
With the expansion of their company and the amount and size of the jobs coming in Staub and Lindwall had to “streamline their training component.” This is where Working Film Establishment comes into play. Working Film, which is being fully launched this March, is the training component to Neighborhood Film’s mission. With this expansion comes the ability to transfer those that are trained to different companies.
“For instance, the apprentice can be trained with our company for eight months and then they can get a position in an internship with a partner employer. For instance, we partner with a hotel here in [Philadelphia] who take one of our apprentices once they complete our training next year,” Staub said. “We see a lot of crossover with the type of work that filmmaking is. There is a lot of administrative business functioning as a faster pace, but a lot of it is the same.”
Lindwall and Staub do not mind it that many of their clients do not know of their mission and training program.
“For someone like Elliott, who is our first employee, I always tell him that it’s dignifying that you just do good work. It’s not about, ‘Oh, they’re helping out a charity or something,’ they saw other work that we have done and they wanted us to do it for them,” Staub said.
With the creation of this company, Lindwall and Staub came against some opposition. People said they were giving money, but only helping three people.
“Overall we desire to eradicate the imagination that these programs are helping people as much as you and I, a human with two hands and a heart, what can we do for our neighbor mentality,” Lindwall said. “A lot of times these individuals get shuffled around from program to program of acronyms that you and I wouldn’t even understand. Ultimately we’re trying to end the shuffle.”
Their passion and inspiration for their work began on APU’s campus. Lindwall and Staub both took Craig Keens class, Church and Social Issues. Staub says that the class was “the initial unraveling of my comfortable Christianity.”
“These non-profits are great and they may be helping 1,000 people, but they will be helping those same 1,000 people next year. Let this be the end of that; let this be a true redirection of what it means to work, to live and to care about yourself and your family,” Staub said. “We understand that the way that Christ worked was very exhausting and it cost him a lot, so why would we work any other way.”