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Neighborhood Centers Inc. is a not for profit organization that brings resources, education and connection to over 400,000 people throughout Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast region every year.

The goal of this project was to find a way to intimately tell the story of a massive organization with a very broad scope. Rather than tell the history of how Neighborhood Centers came to exist and explain all that they do, we decided to take the approach of telling personal, individual stories about people they come alongside everyday.

Through intimate, cinematic narratives revolving around the people that Neighborhood Centers serves, “H Town Stories” was born.

Client: Neighborhood Centers Inc.
Published: September 18, 2013
The Challenge
The greatest challenge on this project was finding a way to tell the story of such a massive, broad reaching organization in a compelling and intimate way in video form.

Neighborhood Centers works in literally dozens of different social sectors and we knew that finding a way to tell a story that captured at once both the breadth and essence of their work would be difficult.

Another challenge with this project, as is the case with most, is finding a way to show the role that Neighborhood Centers plays in the characters lives while still being authentic and true to their story. We wanted to create pieces that were true to our subjects reality and that went far beyond simply selling the positive things NCI had done in their lives. We wanted NCI to simply come alongside our subjects in our piece in the same way that they do in real life. We felt the stories really needed to reflect the whole of our subjects journey rather than focusing purely on the organization’s role in their lives.

With the desire for that level of intimacy comes the need for time. In order to take these stories beyond the cliche and make them real, authentic pieces of storytelling we knew we would need a large amount of time in the field as our subjects lived out their daily lives.

The Solution
We were extremely fortunate with this project to have a client in Neighborhood Centers that believed that “what” they do is not nearly as important as “who” they work with.

So instead of working to create a piece that somehow encompassed all that they do, we were able to take a different approach and were given the incredible freedom of finding individual stories that we felt were representative of the whole of NCI’s work. This was incredibly liberating to our storytelling process and allowed us to focus on showing “why” NCI works with these incredible people instead of just “what” NCI does.

Another solution that helped us deal with our need for time was to break up our time in the field into multiple trips. This gave us the added benefit of producing our content between trips so as to better inform our coverage which in turn gave us the opportunity to develop our characters over time.

Working with a two person team comprised of Director of Photography Rick Gershon and Producer Caitlyn Greene, also allowed us to be more flexible in the production process. We were able to team up and shoot two camera scenes and interviews when needed and could also continue editing when only one person was needed in the field.

H Town

H Town

H Town

About the Client
Neighborhood Centers Inc. brings resources, education and connection to more than 400,000 people throughout Texas each year. For more than a century, Neighborhood Centers has offered comprehensive community-based programs for people at every stage of life – from infants to seniors. The organization works with residents of emerging communities in 60 service locations to help them discover the strengths and skills necessary to become productive, prosperous and self-sufficient. Building on the strengths of individuals and communities, Neighborhood Centers is transforming them. FOR GOOD. Neighborhood Centers Inc. is a United Way agency. For more information, visit www.neighborhood-centers.org.

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