For this month’s In Focus Interview, we’re honored to talk to Alicia Maule, Digital Engagement Director of The Innocence Project, about their Telly Award winning video “Happiest Moments.” Watch the video below, then read our interview with Alicia to learn more about how it was made and how it fits into The Innocence Project’s overall mission to free those who are wrongfully convicted.
Watch “Happiest Moments,” from The Innocence Project, a Gold Winner in Campaigns – Branded Content
This is such a simple yet impactful video; What originally inspired the concept for it?
As an organization we fight endlessly to free wrongly convicted people and help restore their freedom. But there are some things, no matter how hard we try, we’ll never be able to return to our clients, their families, and their loved ones. And that’s what we wanted to highlight with this video. We wanted to drive home that while we work to free innocent people, we also work to prevent wrongful convictions in the first place and that is just as important because people miss out on these moments and milestones in life due to wrongful conviction, they can’t be replaced. Those injustices can’t be corrected, so we have to work to make sure they don’t happen to start with.
What challenges did you encounter while creating this piece? How did you overcome them?
Since 1992, the Innocence Project has helped free over 200 people from prison and over 3,000 have been exonerated in total in the U.S. Over 60,000 people have written to us for assistance. How do you choose just a few stories to represent the range of those experiences? Selecting stories is always tough because each story is powerful and because so many of our clients spend so many years — often several decades — in prison, they often don’t have a lot of photos of themselves over the years or mementos periods of their lives where other people would have lots of photos and keepsakes. We had to be creative in gathering these photos and footage especially because we are highlighting moments that our clients never got to experience, and by the very nature of that, no footage of those moments exists.
What part of this piece are you most proud of?
The team we assembled was fantastic and delivered two unforgettable pieces. This was our first piece of media produced in two languages — English and Spanish. And we’re really proud of having been able to do that, not only to reach a wider audience, particularly Spanish speakers who may be impacted by wrongful conviction, but also to acknowledge and honor our many Latinx clients.
How did the concept for this video evolve through the process of making it?
Since we were in the middle of a pandemic, we gathered existing footage for the production team and the director Ariel Ellis conducted Zoom interviews with our clients Rosa Jimenez, Termaine Hicks, and Huwe Burton. Ultimately, it was brought together by mostly archival footage of dozens of our clients and their families. That helped paint an authentic picture of their journeys.
What did you learn from making this video?
Letting our clients’ stories and voices be front and center is really the most powerful way we can highlight wrongful conviction and its wide-ranging impacts.
What role does creating video content play for the Innocence Project? How does this piece represent your overall mission?
Video allows us to reach so many more people than any other medium. It also most effectively connects our clients’ stories to supporters and future supporters. The Innocence Project and media have always gone hand in hand. In the last few years we invested in producing more of our story through the Netflix series The Innocence Files to our Tiktok account. With one viral low production video on Tiktok, we can reach millions of people, young ones too!
What does winning a Telly Award mean to you?
My goal when I started running digital for the Innocence Project in 2015 was to build an external and internal digital ecosystem, and a top notch program at that just like I was taught working on President Obama’s 2012 reelection and at msnbc.com Winning awards has been a cherry on top in terms of affirming our cause and quality of our work. It’s crucial to me that the Innocence Project digital help put the organization in the room with the best in the industry. Our clients deserve it, the organization needs it, and nonprofits like ours should be innovating in tech and digital as central to accelerating justice.