Vimeo Gives 8 Filmmakers Grants to Tell the Stories of Resilient Small Businesses

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The Covid-19 pandemic has forced freelance creators to halt projects and countless local businesses to close indefinitely, but Vimeo has found a way to support both communities with a new creative project.

The ad-free video platform debuted Stories in Place, a grant project funding eight creators to make videos about the owners of their favorite small businesses and how they’ve adapted. Vimeo chose filmmakers who have been previously featured in the platform’s Staff Picks section.

Videos include 886 by Law Chen, about Chinese restaurant 886 on New York’s Lower East Side that is now making bento boxes for local hospitals and healthcare workers; Afro.Cont.lgbo by Rachel Knoll, about Minnesota dance studio owner and teacher Korma Aguh-Stuckmayer taking her classes virtual; and Coco’s Variety by Danny Madden, an animated depiction of how a Los Angeles bike shop is operating and meeting the high demand for repairs during the pandemic.

Courtney Horwitz, head of brand at Vimeo, said Stories in Place was born out of her team’s desire to help the platform’s creators who are out of work as well as struggling small businesses.

“The best way we knew how to help was to share these stories,” Horwitz said. “These are not just stories about businesses shutting down, but how businesses are adapting and how people are telling those stories in isolation. We had to figure out how to marry [those ideas] together.”

Horwitz said that around a month ago, the brand invited all of its Staff Picks creators to apply for the grant by submitting a short brief about a local business they love and how they would tell the story. To narrow down the submissions to eight, the brand considered the types of businesses, how they have persisted during the pandemic and how the filmmakers would tell their stories in isolation.

“We chose filmmakers who tell stories in original and unique ways, and we wanted to make sure the stories were raw and authentic,” she said. “We selected these eight because we felt like they offered a good variety of both how the businesses were impacted and how well the filmmakers took their hardships and turned them into beautiful stories.”

Vimeo gave each filmmaker $5,000 to shoot and turn their stories around in 12 days, and matched the grant with a donation to each small business featured. The brand is promoting the videos on a dedicated landing page and on its social channels.

Horwitz said Vimeo is continuing to think of new ways to support its creators and local businesses amid the ongoing crisis and might develop similar projects in the future.

Scroll down to view all eight videos included in the Stories in Place project.

886 by Law Chen

The film shows the owners of 886 figuring out how to continue paying staff, donate food to healthcare workers at New York hospitals and grapple with putting their own health and safety first.

Plante by Réka Bucsi

The owners of a plant shop in Budapest, Hungary have digitized their business. Bucsi, an animator, tells their story with images sourced from the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Creative Effects by Jesse Atlas

The short documentary follows salon owner and barber Darryl Wyatt, who teaches his customers how to do their own hair remotely.

Desert Island Comics by Case Jernigan

Inspired by Brooklyn comic shop Desert Island Comics, which is closed indefinitely, the cut paper film highlights the connective power of comic books. Jernigan worked with shop owner Gabe Fowler to source voiceovers from comic fans around the world, and Love Science Music provided the soundtrack.

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