MONKEY BUSINESS FILMS & PHOTOGRAPHY
the production company, the philosophy, and the dream
(not strictly in that order)
A Philosophy No matter how bad the bad eggs, no matter how serious the serious the work, how confronting or challenging the subject matter, never forget a smile, a sense of humour and, if appropriate, a sense of irreverent ‘up-your-nose’ cheekiness (monkey business), particularly when dealing with totalitarians, authoritarians, and egoists operating a few degrees south of the equator on the moral compass of human decency and compassion.
Monkey Business Films & Photography produces top quality media which takes every opportunity to approach subjects with integrity, empathy and compassion and by so doing highlight the dignity, personality, beauty, sincerity, and sometimes humour of the subject matter. Work has largely focused on social, humanitarian, and environmental issues and Monkey Business / Timothy has produced media on behalf of organisations ranging from locally run / community based organisations through to some of the largest of international aid organisations including Save the Children, the IRC, UNHCR, and the World Wild Life Fund. Content has included advocacy films on refugee and migrant rights, advocacy against land mines and Asian elephant trafficking, political prisoner awareness, and a series of films promoting better maternal health practices in remote Southern Myanmar.
While Timothy Syrota has often undertaken many of the roles involved in production, particularly when smaller budgets are involved, larger productions have seen Monkey Business engage a number of like minded media producers to work on films.
Monkey Business has also undertaken commercial media production on behalf of institutions and companies including Toyota Australia, the University of Melbourne, the Royal Institute of Australian Architects, the Grampians Music Festival and wineries local to the Grampians (Victoria, Australia).
On location, Nu Po Refugee Camp, Thai-Myanmar border with school headmaster Naing Lin (left) and Saw Nya Htoo, ZOA Education Co-ordinator, Nu Po Camp. Coincidentally, 4 years earlier when he was a student at the English Immersion Program, Umphiem Mai Refugee Camp, Naing Lin had been a significant contributor to the script of Burmese Dreaming, a Documentary Poem.
MONKEYS IN THE FIELD
Mr Marc van der Stouwe,
former Programme Manager of ZOA Refugee Care Thailand
“From 2003 to 2007 I worked as Programme Manager / Adviser for the Education Sector Support Programme for Burmese refugees that ZOA Refugee Care implements in 7 camps on the Thai-Burma border. In that capacity I had the pleasure to work with Timothy Syrota. In 2007-08, ZOA wanted to have a documentary produced that would aim at raising awareness about the difficult situation of the Burmese refugees in general, and particularly in relation to their lack of educational opportunities. We also wanted to use the film to create support for ZOA's commitment to help the Burmese refugees improving the relevance and quality of their own education system and to use it as an advocacy tool to create opportunities for refugees to use their skills and knowledge beyond the confined context of the refugee camps. The reason why I enjoyed working with Tim so much is that he really tries to fully understand the background and ideas of his clients. He will not start the actual production until he is absolutely sure that his client and he are entirely 'on the same page'. Tim has a real development mind and his working style is also highly participatory. He is brilliant in working with local staff and interacting with the refugee communities. And I appreciate the degree of his professionalism: he does not stop until he is fully happy with the final product and knows his client is too. I would have no hesitation in recommending Tim in producing film material on behalf of international aid organisations.”
A dream too easily obtainable is not a dream it is a pleasant projection. Conversely, a dream impossible
to obtain is not a dream but a self-indulgent fantasy. Timothy Stormborn, King of Dragons, freeing the
oppressed across the known world: not going to happen, a self-indulgent fantasy, ipso facto not a dream.
Monkey Business has a challenging but achievable dream: namely to have an ongoing income stream of $20-40,000 annually to fund - partially or completely - high quality film and photography on behalf of advocacy and community based aid organisations. Media will focus on humanitarian, social and environmental issues and will be produced on behalf of, or in collaboration with, organisations and individuals which would otherwise not have the budget to afford top quality media (but would, conversely, benefit greatly from it as a resource).
A fundamental element of this ‘dream’ is the recognition that there are many hard working people doing effective humanitarian / aid / environmental work, sometimes with a disproportionately large impact, yet with access to sometimes nominal budgets. Over my own years on the Thai-Myanmar border I have worked with / befriended many dedicated individuals that fall easily into this category. I have huge respect for these people and it has always been a particular pleasure producing media on their behalf. Perhaps not surprisingly, they have often been the most grateful clients and have put the media to best effect.
Equally fundamental to the Monkey Business dream is that whilst an income and budget are necessary considerations, it is also amazing what can be produced on lower budgets when working with media producers - including myself and Monkey Business - when the highest priority is the importance of the work and seeing it put to good effect.
A more comprehensive outline of the plan for the Monkey Business Dream will soon be available on request .
A Monkey Tale: Burmese Dreaming and the Robbie Fowler intervention. READ MORE