march

CASUAL FILMS ON THE GROUND: ART AND ACTIVISM AT THE WOMEN’S MARCH ON WASHINGTON

At the 2017 Women’s March on Washington, Casual Films and Adobe chronicled the powerful story of community activist, cultural organizer and artist Kate DeCiccio.

The Women’s March on Washington, and the sister marches that occurred in solidarity across the globe on January 21, will no doubt go down in history. The day following the 45th Presidential Inauguration, people gathered in D.C. in unprecedented numbers, each for their own personal reasons: to protest, to celebrate, to mourn, to overcome, and most of all, to feel a part of a powerful community of women and their allies.

Coming Together for a Cause

With several successful partnerships between Casual Films and Adobe under our belts — like interviewing conflict photographer Lynsey Addario or sitting down with the lead animators on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert — we again teamed up with Adobe to capture the energy of community on January 21, with a particular emphasis on the role of art as activism.

As Megan Anttila, Executive Producer at Casual Films, recalls, the project came about seamlessly: “Adobe, quite simply, understands the power of film and using that medium to showcase people doing important, interesting work in their communities.” With excitement surrounding the Women’s March growing by the day, Anttila approached Adobe about the project, and found a receptive audience. “Adobe, from the beginning, was very open to sharing ideas, and this project — with art and activism as the angle — was the perfect fit.”

With Casual and Adobe revved up to cover the March, they decided to focus the story around the art of a local D.C. artist: Kate DeCiccio, a community artist and cultural organizer who has emerged as an advocate for the Oakland and East Coast street art communities, education reform, prison rehabilitation programs, and more.

Championing the Power of Art

For DeCiccio, preparation for the Women’s March began long before January 21. Having focused her artistic career on portraiture as a tool for counter-narrative (much of her artwork has been in support of those impacted by police brutality, for example) she was compelled to give voice to the spirit of community and belonging that she felt the March symbolized.

In response to The Amplifier Foundation’s official call for art in conjunction with the Women’s March organizers, DeCiccio submitted three posters with messaging inspired by the event’s purpose and the current political climate. From over 5,000 submissions, one of DeCiccio’s posters was selected to be mass produced for the March. Her poster, inspired by an original photograph by Cindy Trinh, features a vibrantly colored graphic of a woman haloed by the word “WOMANHOOD,” and peddles a powerful message of inclusivity: “Achieving our Full Selves by Fully Embracing EachOther.”

Claiming Our Own Stories

Click here for the full Adobe Video

On the day of the March, DeCiccio, Anttila and crew ventured into the city just before 7am, on a train packed with the buzzing, positive energy of fellow Marchers. Typically, DeCiccio would have made posters by hand, using spraypaint and stencils to produce 20 to 50 signs on cardboard to pass out.

But on January 21, Kate’s message reached more hands than ever, thanks to The Amplifier Foundation mass producing several chosen works of art. Tens of thousands of Kate’s posters along with several others were made available for free download and in print at select poster distribution points across the city. Together with TaskForce, DeCiccio also created a parachute painted with the image of Rhanda Dormeus, whose daughter, Korryn Gaines, was killed in a police shooting in Baltimore. This parachute became a centerpiece of reflection and community building during the March, with Dormeus herself marching and unraveling the parachute alongside Kate.

As DeCiccio recalls, her experience at the Women’s March was overwhelmingly positive:

“There were thousands and thousands of posters with incredible messaging; really fun, smart, witty, serious, bold, beautiful messaging. To see that women chose to carry my poster, that that was the message that most resonated with them, was just incredible, and reminded me why I do this work. As artists, we’re able to claim our own stories, and amplify the story of the issue that matters to us. With that artwork, we have tremendous power.”

This pursuit, to use our talents to promote a larger message — whether in creating art, film, or community — is one that resonates with us at Casual. Reflecting on her incredibly powerful experience with DeCiccio at the Women’s March, Anttila echoed this sentiment: “Filming an event like this is important, and we were lucky to be the ones who got to capture it. We aimed to take everything in, and to let the story tell itself. Not necessarily what you might expect from a corporate filmmaking company.”

DeCiccio’s Embracing EachOther poster and other artwork is available for download from the Amplifier Foundation website.

March on Washington Crew

Senior Video Producer: Kristi Highum, Adobe

Co-Director/Executive Producer: Megan Anttila, Casual Films

Co-director and Director of Photography: Brendan Gilliam, Casual Films

B Camera Operator: Josh Weinhaus, Casual Films

Editor: Cara Gordon, Casual Films

(Photo Credit: Tim Lyons)