Learning

Making Films By Heart: Ron Haese, Filmmaker

  from Ron Haese’s film Kickers He wants them to be touched, to be inspired, to listen to themselves and their talents, to use them in following their dream and making the unique contribution that is singular and personal. He wants them to discover their personal mission, what they came here to do and how they can … Continued

  from Ron Haese’s film Kickers

He wants them to be touched, to be inspired, to listen to themselves and their talents, to use them in following their dream and making the unique contribution that is singular and personal. He wants them to discover their personal mission, what they came here to do and how they can make the world a better place by discovering the unique mark only they can make on the world.

He’s not a minister, not a professor; he’s not even a teacher. He is the multimedia guru for Lakeshore Technical Institute and he’s a guy who cares. It’s important to him to be a catalyst in helping youth especially, to discover and express their best self. If the surrounding adults get educated in the process, it’s collateral compensation.

He is Ron Haese, independent filmmaker from Wisconsin with 60 films and a thousand documentaries in his portfolio. Four of his scripts are award winners and fourteen of those films have won national awards. 

It’s a simple mission, really—making the world a better place by inspiring kids to make the world a better place. He knows kids; he understands them; he listens. And he knows how to reach them. As a kid he loved movies and he puzzled about what motivated humans to behave in certain ways. But he didn’t aspire to take psychology or become a head doctor; his kind of doctoring works on healing the human heart. And it wasn’t until his own heart stopped, literally, and he puzzled over the rising existential questions, that he found his own true calling and life mission.

At twelve or thirteen, he discovered the power of movies to communicate a message to a mass audience. His first attempts at film were comedies but it was when someone died from drinking and driving, and the soul searching that accompanies a senseless loss that impelled him on his current trajectory.

It doesn’t always take a near death experience and the accompanying existential crisis to find one’s life mission, but it does give finding one’s true calling an amplified sense of urgency. Ron Haese has that sense of urgency still, while his calling is clear—making films. His “Hollywood” is High Schools, his cast and crew, students. He makes films about social issues and core values and change. In the process of helping students and schools to make films, he educates the adults who are hands-on within his ventures.

The first film from the Haesefilms vault was a production about drinking and driving that was duplicated in versions unique to local high schools until there were 14 of them. “Broken,” his next film, was about the cycle of domestic violence and it too, like its predecessors, won multiple awards. His last film “Real For Us” takes on bullying and peer-on-peer violence in schools. His new endeavor is Kickers” being filmed over the summer, a film that addresses prescription drug abuse. Each film has an accompanying study guide and manual for teachers and community leaders.

Lakeshore Technical College loans him out to make these films where he functions as producer, director, casting director, cinematographer, lighting and camera technician. In his spare time, Haese makes Public Service Announcements, T.V. commercials, and training films for hospitals, S.W.A.T. teams, non-profits and national virtual magazines.

“Pledge 2 Change” is also Haese’s brainchild—a program that recruits youth to vow to “be the change” they want in their lives and the world.

The schools fund the projects with resources and seed money but it was clear Haese makes films on a shoestring budget. He does his own production and distribution and pays for his own gas to and from shoots and meetings.

So I asked him one final question: what he would do if he had unlimited resources and budgets and there were no restrictions or limitations? His answer didn’t have the word “Hollywood” anywhere in it. Instead he told me:

“I would take these films nationwide. I would promote them and get the educational materials in every school in the country, to inspire every child to listen to themselves and what calls to them. I would inspire them in their lives to not just work to make money, but to find what they love and not just make a living but a life. And I would make more films about more things…”

~ Rev. B. Kaufmann, Words and Violence Founder

Previous

The United States 1500s--Early 1900s

Back to Learning
Next

Lorna Dee Cervantes: For Mahmoud Darwish