What is Contact Light?

What is Contact Light?

Dear Friends, Family, Clients, Collaborators and Perfect Strangers:

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be embarking on this new journey, Contact Light Films! I’ve been speaking with many of you over the last several months, seeking guidance, insight and criticism, and I can’t thank you enough for everything you’ve done to help make this new endeavor a reality. I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank Hugo Fernandez of Just Digital Inc., for working tirelessly with me to discover exactly what I wanted this company to be and where I want it to go. If any of you are looking for help in marketing strategies for your business, Hugo is simply incredible! http://justdigital.marketing.

Throughout our conversations, many of you told me you saw Contact Light as a return to my roots…and you were right. My childhood passions for space exploration, scientific discovery, history, government, have all been channeled here into this new entity – my professional calling of filmmaking. So, what is Contact Light? I see Contact Light as two-parts both leading back to the same underlying theme – sharing stories that matter. On its face, the company will be a vanguard for telling the stories of organizations with strong social missions. If you are working to make a difference in the lives of others, whether through technology, social activism, social entrepreneurship, government, the non-profit sector, etc., we want to connect and help you maximize your impact.

For our in-house operations, I want Contact Light to be the McClure’s Magazine for the 21st Century. I realize the reference is a little obscure, and for those of you who do know what I’m talking about, just a little ambitious to say the least. But, please bear with me. McClure’s was perhaps the most important entity for spreading the progressive agenda of the early 20th century. Its ability to analyze complex issues, making them accessible and relatable to everyday Americans, was crucial to success of President Teddy Roosevelt and the historic reforms of the Progressive Era – groundbreaking action that checked corporate greed of the Gilded Age – bringing an end to laissez faire government and with it the birth of the minimum wage, fair labor laws, a progressive income tax, and the five day work week to name a few – hard fought legislation that is being incrementally chipped away at before our very eyes.

The magazine’s founder, S.S. McClure, fostered an environment where passionate writers of the day were encouraged to thoroughly examine the issues – to produce informative and inspirational pieces that empowered people with real knowledge rather than poisoning their minds with divisive soundbites and “gotchas.” McClure and his team worked tirelessly to make their case to the American public, and they succeeded because they were able to convince their readers of its importance.  In a sense, the Progressive movement worked because Americans got the message – this stuff really mattered. To quote McClure: “The vitality of democracy depends on popular knowledge of complex questions.”

After the 2014 midterm elections last fall, I was angry and disheartened. What frustrated me far more than the advancement of a retrogressive agenda was this statistic: 2/3 of the American electorate (yes 67% of eligible Americans) abstained from voting! How could this be? How could 2/3 of an entire country where so many people have fought and died for this sacred privilege have simply stood on the sidelines?

There are many reasons (a much longer discussion to be sure). But, actions like disenfranchisement simply cannot account for a whopping 67% MIA rate. The real culprit was and continues to be voter apathy. Millions of Americans (the largest plurality belonging to my generation) simply do not regard voting as an act worthy of their time. Whether they have lost faith in the electoral process or fail to truly appreciate the system, their voices go uncounted.

By this point, I’m sounding a little preachy. But, just maybe that 67% figure is beginning to burn a hole in the back of your brain. Good!  You should be angry, baffled, confused, stupefied. But, it’s not enough to sympathize with my frustrations. It’s not enough to cheer for our progressive leaders and expect them to turn the tide while we go back to our smartphones and selfies. If we care about what happens to our future, we must all take action, using our individual strengths to further us all along the continuum of progress.

That is the heart and soul of Contact Light Films. By tackling the issues of our time – like McClure’s did over 100 years ago – we can educate and inspire, furthering a movement that prides itself on knowledge and real understanding – that succeeds by raising the level of debate, erasing disillusionment and restoring hope and faith in our fragile but beautiful democracy.  I will always have faith in the future, but to quote JFK, “we can have faith in the future only when we have faith in ourselves.” This is what we seek to accomplish and I welcome all those who share in this vision.  Enough talk. Enough preaching. Time to focus. Time to be the change you want to see in the world. Time to get to work! I hope to see you all out there.


Zack Weil