Giving the world a voice (and a camera)

In conversation with creative director and climate activist Susanna Basso
Giving the world a voice (and a camera)

Tackling climate change can feel overwhelming. Many of us already make sustainable choices in our everyday lives. But how can we amplify that through our work, longer term? Susanna Basso is doing just that.

Susanna is a Danish-Italian creative and climate activist. After completing her film studies in London, she’s worked around the world and now lives in Bali. Susanna is also the co-founder and artistic director of the Climate Crisis Hub and Film Festival, the UK’s leading environmental cinematic event.

Inspired by the series of films she directed in collaboration with Deloitte, we recently spoke to find out about what ignited her passion for the environment, how she found her niche and the power of creativity.

Five things we learnt about climate activism and creativity

It’s a personal journey.

Susanna’s long-time love of film production evolved into a passion for film curation, focusing on telling stories around climate change to spark action. But it was a very precise moment when she realised she was an environmental activist:

“I’d always associated being an environmentalist with sustainable consumption or charity work. I couldn’t quite see how my career and interests could fit environmentalism in the long term. But in 2019, London was going through a climate awakening – and everything changed.

“It was a time of youth activism in the news. Creative climate content flooded Instagram. The pioneers of youth-led climate discourse came to the fore.

“For the first time, I realised I could join the climate conversation in a very real way. I could apply my skills and passion to serve a greater purpose and join the movement. I realised my passion for film curation could create an approachable platform for sustainability to shine.”

Digital is opening up the conversation.

Susanna is passionate about the need for storytellers, designers and filmmakers who can make climate change more tangible and relatable – showing that it’s here now and encouraging us all to take collective responsibility.

“The Climate Crisis Film Festival connects people around the world with concrete ways to act, to make their change. Our concept was to leverage the emotional power of film to incite meaningful action for systemic change. It was born in London and we held it live for the first editions, but the pandemic meant the festival evolved as a hybrid worldwide event, reaching 140 countries.

“Now, excitingly, our second biggest audience is in India, one of the nations suffering most from environmental damage. It’s wonderful to actively involve global audiences in the climate conversation because this is a global issue – it needs a global response.”

Capturing the traditional Mogaveera fisherfolk community on camera in Malpe, India. Watch the films.

The magic happens when local meets global.

The shift to digital created by the pandemic both welcomed global audiences and gave Susanna’s team a new mindset around film and event production (and one that just happens to be more sustainable, too). In fact, it sparked a whole new collaboration:

“We recently worked with the Deloitte WorldClimate team on Voices of Climate Action, a series of four films about positive grassroots resilience and climate action in Ghana, Kenya, Pakistan and India. Each of the films showed how it related to our everyday lives and gave ideas to help make a difference.

“Because we couldn’t travel, we worked remotely with local film crews and directors of photography on the ground. We extended pre-production, created a very detailed shot list and planned each shot’s narrative and focus. When we got the hang of it, it was really fun.

“Having local creatives capture the story and interviews was so exciting, as it gave the community freedom to bring their own creative input and authentic voice. I’m excited to do it again.”

Filming underway in Lahore, Pakistan to show how Bilal is tackling urban forests through air pollution. Watch the films.

All for one and one for all.

The golden thread through Susanna’s work is Stories made relatable; actions made tangible. It’s a simple concept of connecting people to a story personally and emotionally, then giving them the tools to turn their emotional response into positive action:

“We want everyone to see how their everyday actions can impact people on the other side of the planet. With our films, we want to transform underrepresented voices and tell personal stories of climate resilience to inspire a global audience.

“We want to empower each person to realise that their actions at home and in everyday life reverberate far and wide, either negatively or very, very positively.

“People get scared about climate activism – thinking they must reset their lives, cut back, sacrifice this and that. But the climate movement is inclusive and flexible and welcoming. I never thought I could practically contribute to positive change, but here I am.”

Activism isn’t scary; it’s exciting.

Our conversation with Susanna and broader collaboration on the Voices of Climate Change films inspired us in so many ways. Of everything she said, her final thoughts resonated most powerfully:

“Our generation could change the world for the better. If you want to have an impact, this is the moment. The door is open. We need everyone’s input, everyone’s opinion and voice.

“Activism isn’t scary. It hasn’t taken me away from my existing pathway; I’ve combined my love of film curation with sustainability and shining a light on an important conversation. Think of it as your lifestyle upgraded, with the rewards of positive impact.

“As Mary Heglar said: 'The thing about climate is that you can either be overwhelmed by the complexity of the problem or fall in love with the creativity of the solutions.'”

The films show how we’re more connected to the informal makers communities in Agbogbloshie, Ghana than we think... Watch the films.
“A lot of climate activism is positive, it’s exciting. It’s about enhancing life and making the community work better.”

Thanks for reading

We hope you feel inspired by Susanna's message. You can watch the films she directed on the Voices of Climate Action page. If you want more inspiration on climate change, check out the below reads:

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