Veterans Launch “Do Good” Docu-Series in Midst of Disaster
Interviewed for Risen Magazine
Risen Magazine: Do Good is a 10-episode docu-series that just debuted on YouTube… tell us about what we can expect and what Do Good means?
Justin Roberts: Do Good is about the disasters that we had here in Lake Charles with hurricane Laura, hurricane Delta, we had a chemical spill, we had a flood and this is also all in the middle of the COVID pandemic. So you had disaster after disaster, after disaster, after already being in financial fallout. So, we decided to turn our cameras on and try to figure out one who is doing good in the midst of all of this. In every single disaster you’re going to find heroes rising up. And like my experience with my war documentary No Greater Love I witnessed so many heroes in the midst of traumatic events stepping up to help and support people. I knew that we were going to have that here too.
So I called my buddy Hank Barbe who’s a former combat medic and lead singer for the rock band Three Beards. He came in and we started looking for the people who are doing good. And what we wanted to do though, is we wanted to try to figure out not only how can we tell these stories but also how can we support these organizations when so many people have been experiencing financially difficult times because of the pandemic. So what we decided to do is donate the proceeds from monetization views (that’s the money that videos make from YouTube) to those charities. So that way just by watching and sharing you can be supporting these organizations that are on the front lines.
RM: From the global pandemic to quarantine, intense weather and more, our nation has definitely had it’s fair share of challenging times this past year… how did you find the organizations and people you highlight?
JR: We went to where food and help was being given out and were in the trenches of it. You hear about it when the internet is shut down, word of mouth begins again where, “This place over here is giving out food.” Because you can’t go to a restaurant when you’re in the middle of a disaster zone. You don’t have power. You don’t have running water. And so everybody starts actually coming together again, which is beautiful, and then you start seeing for yourself. Because I had to go eat too, “Where am I going to go eat?” And I didn’t have a farm in my backyard, so I had to stand in the food lines too. My family had to get help, we all did. And so, those people that we saw who were blessing us, that’s who we turned our cameras onto. And also all across the community though because there were so many places and so many people doing good.
RM: You’re doing something really cool when it comes to giving back to the organizations… explain how I help just by watching each episode.
JR: Yeah. So it’s through our local United Way. What we’re doing is we’re just having the money that comes from the YouTube views go straight to that United Way, who then issues it out to those charities or individuals who are making an impact. You’re going to watch something today, you’re going to be a part of some sort of social media, you’re going to do something so my hope is that we can shift culture in some ways to start making it towards positive things, good things, and things that are also going to make a difference. And so, how are we as a country going to respond to disasters when they hit? Because it’s us today but it’s going to be you tomorrow. With severity and frequency increasing with these disasters, whether it’s fires, or floods, or tornadoes, or ice storms all through the South there’s always going to be disasters that we’re going to be facing. How are we going to face it together? And with Do Good we’re going to highlight those stories and then give you that ability to connect and make a difference no matter how much money you have.
RM: Justin you’re the host, director and a Louisiana native… safe to say you have a lot invested in helping this region. Share your heart for the communities affected.
JR: Oh gosh, these stories were mentioned in the press but not told, not in full. And this was in the middle of a contentious election so while that argument was happening a community was dying. And two American towns were wiped away and 95% of homes were impacted. We recently came across an 80 year old woman who was sleeping in her car for the last two months who couldn’t live inside her home and her story is not unique, this is common here. The vulnerable part of the population is left without shelters and struggling desperately.
And so those are the stories that we’re trying to help uncover. And the thing is, is that we’re not unique in this. Every single time there’s a disaster these stories are going untold, these needs are going unmet. And we have a huge way of mobilizing the country if we can get the stories to them. Because I know the majority of people out there are actually pretty good and they’ll do something when they hear about the need and they just want to know that it’s going to the right place to help that person. And so that’s what we’re trying to help facilitate but it takes an army and so that’s why we started up the Do Good Army. It’s not just talking about doing good, it’s not talking about drama, it’s not do drama, it’s not do bad, it’s Do Good. And so, we’re trying to help mobilize not towards just the message but an action so that way we can then actually make a difference for these people who are hurting.
RM: Practically telling these stories, shooting it during the pandemic, what were you met with? Did people immediately embrace you, were they hesitant as to how you were going to portray their story? What did that look like from a filmmaker’s perspective?
JR: It was like shooting in combat. I’m familiar with it and we just told people what we’re up to, what we were going to do and they’re like, “That’s awesome. Let’s do it.” So there wasn’t any hesitancy. So many people here felt like they were forgotten and that was heartbreaking. So just the fact that the story might get out there was really heartwarming and people connected and supported it. So we were really blessed throughout this process and we had to scramble. It was a very difficult process because all of us too, all of our own homes were devastated, going through repairs. Seventy percent of my house is gutted and I lost my office. So, now I’m sleeping in a one bedroom apartment with a three-year-old, a seven-year-old, a dog and a wife.
It’s almost like when I was in the military as a chaplain, I was deployed to Afghanistan and I was filming over there. It feels like the war came home and the bombs and bullets aren’t flying but the devastation is there and the desperation is there and also the heroes and that’s what we’re capturing. And it’s guaranteed there’s somebody out in the audience who they would like to make a difference when these disasters hit and what Do Good is just trying to put on their radar is that we can be that vehicle to help tell the story to them, show them multiple options of people who are doing good so they can select one that they really want to support and plug in with. And whether it’s through donation or just watching and sharing everybody can make an impact.
RM: You’re also a military veteran and Risen actually chatted with you when your documentary No Greater Love came out… since then you’ve created Echo Bravo Productions… why is it important for you to tell these stories?
JR: What I’m trying to figure out what and what I’ve been working on is how do you marry the message and the mission, not just telling a powerful story but making an impact, a direct impact for the people that you’re telling the story about. And so for everything I do I always circle back to that, that’s what my calling is, to tell stories but also to make a difference. And so every film that I’ve worked on — we’ve actually shot two more films, we’re in post production on those feature length films — and then I got hit by a hurricane so we were like, “Well, God’s bringing the story to us.”
I long to do a vacation documentary at the end of all this… yeah I’d like to do something about the sleeping habits of tourists on some sort of beach and just chill out. no, but this is where God has me and it’s really been incredible. That’s what Echo Bravo is about, it’s telling the stories of the brave, to echo the brave, and to bless them, for all that they’ve done and so that’s what we continue to do.
RM: We want to encourage everyone to watch the Do Good series which just launched. Where people can see it?
JR: There’s two things I want to ask them. It’s like, join us at Do Good Army on Facebook. That’s Do Good Army and just search for us on Facebook and that’s where we’re going to have so many updates but that’s also where we can connect as a group to start mobilizing this army. Because we’re not just looking for fans, we’re looking for soldiers in the army of good. And for YouTube find us at Do Good. It might take some searching because we’re still low in the search engine but find us. The best way is to actually go back to our link on Facebook and then go to there but Do Good on YouTube and please watch, share and subscribe because every view is going to be a benefit to those organizations.