The Broadening Reach of Red Rebels

Tuesday, April 04, 2023 by Hope Lourie Killcoyne

Two Red Rebels walk forward, palms up.

Red Rebels, palms up, signal a gentle, determined plea.

Replete with an unmistakable look, intense silence, and mime-like moves, the Red Rebels are, quite intentionally, riveting. In the words of artist and activist Doug Francisco, founder of the Red Rebels Brigade: "We divert, distract, delight, and inspire the people who watch us."

American filmmaker Jonathan Schwartz of CMI (Climate Media Initiative), documents justice, climate, and indigenous rights issues. Over the years, he has witnessed a good deal of theatrical protest, from those opposing oil companies along the Amazon in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to mask-and-flipper-equipped sea-level-rising protestors in Paris. None, however, arrested his attention as did the eerily choreographed Rebels. He wondered if such powerful and provocative means of resistance would ever emerge and take hold in his native New England.

It did.

And, Action!

Moved and motivated, Schwartz met with the decentralized Boston-based Red Rebel Brigade to explore the possibility of a collaboration—one that could further propel both the Brigade's work as well as that of XR. Moving forward with Red Rebels' green light, Schwartz pooled the best resources possible, from cameras to crew. First, hewing to the highest production values, Schwartz used a cinema-quality 8K RED capture format. The team was equally top notch: Zack Richard and Allie Humenuk, Main Cinematographers; William Adeylott, Drone Operator; Reed Galloway, Composer; Bruce Bolden, Color Correction; Talia Sabato and Bob Ebener, Associate Producers; Alex Bouthillier, Editor; and Raziel Panic, Location Audio Mixer.

The result, a 5:00 film now on XR Global media channels YouTube, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram, employs unexpected shifts in POV, speed, score, locations, and interactions, all of which add even more strength.

A trio of images showing the Red Rebels: filmed from above, on a bridge, and at a beach.

This trio of images shows the Red Rebels on an isthmus of land, crossing a bridge, and broadening their reach on the sands of a beach.

Safety in the Proximity of Decidedly Unscripted Drama

"We come to support the arrest-ables, to de-escalate confrontational situations, we block roads by crossing slowly or flocking in junctions, just long enough to provoke emotive responses." — Doug Francisco, Red Rebels Brigade

  1. A common link that the non-violent, always silent, Red Rebels share with film crews who cover them is that even when situated in the thick of contentious interactions, the Rebels somehow avoid the fray, sidestepping the level of physical danger that other demonstrators confront. Floating through it all, they exhibit the same kind of thick luck that shields film crews.

  2. And tying said link with a bow when it comes to danger-free drama, Schwartz is well versed in such matters, having spent years ensuring on-set cinematic safety standards through projects featuring the likes of Jon Hamm and John Malkovich. Yeah, a bit of name dropping here, but c'mon. After all, we are talking about getting attention, right?

    And, scene.

About the Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion is a decentralised, international and politically non-partisan movement using non-violent direct action and civil disobedience to persuade governments to act justly on the Climate and Ecological Emergency. Our movement is made up of people from all walks of life, contributing in different ways with the time and energy they can spare. Chances are, we have a local branch very close to you, and we would love to hear from you. Get involved …or consider making a donation.