Interview with Neighborhood Film Company

Neighborhood Film Company operates out of Philadelphia, PA in partnership with the Working Film Establishment to train adults in recovery for competitive employment.  Their list of clients include Nike, Anthropologie, Comcast, and Coca Cola.

The EcoTheo Review recently had the opportunity to interview one of the founders of Neighborhood Film, Anders Lindwall, about his experience with the company.

What is your role at Neighborhood Film Company?

I am the Co-Founder of the company and specialize in Visual Management (creative content and film directing).

What inspired you to start the company?

For myself and Ricky (the other founder), starting Neighborhood Film Company was a matter of faith.  We’ve always been fascinated with the intersection of work and the calling of God.  Neighborhood Film Company became a natural avenue to do something I’m good at while incorporating folks in desperate circumstances to join in the work as a form of love and restoration to their lives.  I also saw the company as an exploration into what it means to follow Jesus with our lives.  Sacrifice is good, but what do people do after?  Disciples went back to fishing.  Neighborhood provides me a vision for a sustainable life of discipleship.

Why Philadelphia?

I felt led into it.  Project Home was here.  Sister Mary Scullion was a big factor in motivating us.  This is where we knew a lot of folks in recovery.  Philly also has a unique faith community with a lot of integration between churches and their neighbors.  Finally, Philadelphia provided us with connections to the film industry, where we have developed a close relationship with M. Night Shyamalan.

How did the Working Film Establishment start?

Again, our vision started with the desire for sustainable discipleship.  We started getting so much work, but we weren’t able to do our job well and facilitate training well at the same time.  Consequently, we created a model where Working Film changed Neighborhood Film Company into a kind of teaching hospital.  We train in film production management, and teach our apprentices to function under stressful circumstances.  We’ve found this model acts as a way to better incorporate folks who go through our training program.

What is the community of Neighborhood like?

The community we’ve built at Neighborhood is the core element to what we’re able to do and how we’re able to do it.  It seems like there has been a rite of passage for folks in our company to move across the country without the promise of a job.  Of the core six of us who started working at Neighborhood Film Company, no one came with the promise of position or salary.  So it’s definitely been a faith journey for everyone in our community.  We have our COO coming out to Philly at the end of the month, again with no promise of salary.  So what is it that keeps compelling people to join our company?  I believe we’ve all come out here for more than a job.  I think the Lord has used avenue of work to establish community.  We’ve all had to sacrifice a lot to build Neighborhood Film Companytogether, but the community we’ve gained has been worth it.  Most of us live in the same neighborhood, and all of us live within four blocks of our office.  A lot of lives are wrapped up in all of this.  Ultimately, we believe that caring for people means being in close proximity.  That’s what being a neighborhood is all about. 

What is your ultimate goal for folks working with Neighborhood Film Company?

There are layers to it.  From a practical standpoint, I want our apprentices to learn the value of hard work, and to learn to function well in any work environment.  Another level of hope is that their relationships are reconciled as they find stable jobs.  As our apprentices feel welcomed as part of our company and loved by family of Neighborhood Film Company, we hope their relationships outside the company are reconciled and empowered to thrive.  Also, a big component of what we hope to do is incarnational ministry, where we hope to live out the Incarnation of Christ’s love for his disciples.  My hope is to connect people with their Creator and feel part of a bigger plan and picture.  We hope that people feel an adoption into a family of faith as well as a company.

What are your greatest challenges?

Our challenges are changing constantly.  Maintaining the balance of an excellent product and our mission is always difficult.  People hire us not because they feel bad for us, but because we make great videos.  As a result, we need to work harder than other people, since we train and produce simultaneously.

Personally, my greatest challenge is fighting the mentality of being able to change somebody.  I’m not sure if there’s a better job training program out there, but we still had to fire our first apprentice.  When that happened, I recognized that I was out of control of many things that I need to be aware of.  The challenge now is to maintain my ambition to see change in the lives of others, but being open to know I can’t do it all.

How do you see the company growing and changing in the future?

I see us diversifying: revenue and stretching into partnering with employers.  Neighborhood Film Company grows as organically as it needs to, but won’t be able to employ all of our apprentices.  We are now focusing on finding other companies willing to buy into our mission.  To do this, we need to make our apprentices more marketable than the competition.  I could also see Neighborhood Film Company start buying other types of companies and creating a new type of culture for them, forming a type of work that has more fulfillment than just the labor of a job itself. 

How has your faith informed your work?

My faith has informed it the same way it’s informed my entire life.  It reshapes work into more than a task.  A lot of work is not exciting.  Faith illuminates my work and inspires it, and creates a mission to my work.  When I meet with an ad agency it’s more than a transactional exchange.  I’m able to see people for who they really are as a cherished and loved being.  Because our work has a strong element of restoration to folks who are desperate, I am daily confronted with the need to integrate my faith into all that I do.

How has Neighborhood Film Company changed your faith?

It’s brought a patience to my faith.  I used to have a lot of passion.  My faith has changed from passionate, zealous, immediate-result type of action to an openness to the sovereignty of God.  My work is now less about my own passion, as I’ve learned to trust how much the Lord cares for certain things.  Also, I’ve learned about the idea of favor.  I felt the Lord’s favor with this community so much.  He just makes things happen.  I didn’t necessarily expect that.  God continues to make things happen with or without me.  I didn’t realize God’s grace would be so much invested in this enterprise, and I’m so grateful to be a part of His work.

You can visit Neighborhood Film Company and Working Film Establishment for more information, or view their promotional trailer below.

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