For what has been a 10+ year journey, it seems almost jarring that Scott Ryan's feature doc We Want The Airwaves is a mere 83-minutes in length. Centered around the dizzying journey of first-time television creators Charmel Green, Cory B. Clay, and Ryan as they endeavor to bring a "can't miss" idea to life, We Want the Airwaves is simultaneously inspiring and cautionary in its presentation.
Have you ever heard the phrase "Do what you love and the money will follow?" We Want the Airwaves is a stark reminder that it's really just a feel-good phrase and definitely not always the reality for incredibly passionate, talented people with great ideas who still struggle to catch the break they need.
In this case, that "can't miss" idea is Manifesto!, a planned docu-series focused on worldchangers and their activism with each episode planned to feature three different activists. At the time the trio began envisioning Manifesto!, television was still simply television and Netflix was still a couple years away from its birth. Basically, there was nothing like Manifesto! on television and it seemed like the whole world acknowledged that this was a really terrific idea.
One could easily call the team naively optimistic yet there's something visionary about their work here and there's something even more visionary about their willingness to document all of it along the way through rejections, heartbreaks, disappointments, broken promises, no shows, and Hollywood acting like Hollywood. We Want the Airwaves has picked up multiple prizes along its festival journey including wins at A Show for a Change Film Festival (Creativity Award, Documentary Feature), Impact Docs Awards (Award of Merit, Documentary Feature), Santa Monica Film Festival (Honorable Mention, Best Documentary Feature), and WorldFest Houston (Platinum Remi Award, Documentary Feature). We Want the Airwaves is now available via most streaming outlets.
For anyone who's ever dedicated themselves to bringing a grand idea to life, We Want the Airwaves will likely be a familiar experience as the team is forced to go from idealistic creatives to expert pitchers to fundraisers to negotiators and so much more. Charmel Green, in particular, is remarkably compelling here as the frequent cold caller tasked wtih getting the pitch in front of anyone and everyone who can possibly help bring it all to life.
Of course, along the way there are many promises and many broken promises. There are those who offer to check out pitch videos, though they offer not much in the way of funding to help bring it all to life.
Along the way, we bond with these folks even as tensions build and relationships strain over the course of ten years and the changing landscape of media. There are added touches in We Want the Airwaves that are truly inspired and also give you a strong indication that all these struggles are not because of lack of talent. This is a seriously talented team.
I'm not about to spoil how everything unfolds here, though We Want the Airwaves is a film that takes us through the gamut of emotions along its journey and it's remarkable to think that this team lived it all in much greater detail for over ten years. This unique, engaging, and remarkably transparent feature doc is easily worth your time and, by god, also worth a view just to support these inspiring creatives and the world they want to bring to life.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic