In this instalment of Meet a MaRSian, Angelo Casanas speaks with SiG National’s communications intern, Devon Krainer, who shares her thoughts on social innovation and film production.

For those who may not know, what does SiG stand for?

It stands for Social Innovation Generation.

How would you define social innovation?

In the words of Frances Westley [from the University of Waterloo], “social innovation is a new initiative, product, program or process that profoundly changes the beliefs, basic routines, resources and authority flows of the social system in which it is introduced.”

Social innovation addresses an unmet need in society to improve social welfare. While it can be something concrete (for example, a product), it can also be a process that is constantly developing and innovating, which is something we try to do here at MaRS.

How does SiG National play a role in Canadian social innovation?

SiG National represents four partners: The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, the University of Waterloo, MaRS Discovery District and Al Etmanski through BC Partners for Social Impact. We are the glue between the partners and we act as a communicator to ensure that we’re collaborating on the right projects. On a higher level, we try to foster a culture of social innovation in Canada.

What role do you play in SiG National?

Part of SiG National’s role is to help people understand what exactly social innovation is by communicating stories and showcasing tangible examples of social innovation that have taken place in Canada. As the communications intern, I assist in a number of initiatives, including working on a video series that showcases lab work in Canada and assisting on an initiative to cultivate corporate social innovation within companies and organizations. On a day-to-day basis I have the responsibility of updating and managing the content on our website, as well as managing our social media content. Since seeing is believing, you really have to engage people through telling meaningful stories, because stories are what touch them and help them understand the value of social innovation.

Meet a MaRSian - Devon Krainer

You have a background in film production. Tell us how that started.

Film production started for me when I was in Grade 9. I had an inspirational teacher who encouraged us to make films about anything we wanted. I made some ridiculous fiction narrative films with a crew of four people from my school and we submitted them to some film competitions. One actually got through and won an award. It was something more serious, a documentary on the SPCA, and it was a good topic to showcase our narrative dramas. I really enjoyed the process and I liked the idea of working with a team of people to create something that you have complete control over.

You were also a YouTube celebrity. Tell us about that experience.

One summer, after my summer job at an amusement park, I really wanted to get my creative juices flowing, so I decided to create vlogs or video blogs. They would just be about my life, my thoughts and things that I loved—just silly thoughts from a high school student. It was a really fun platform for me. Eventually one of my videos was featured locally in Canada. I then later posted one of the videos from my film class, a professional one, and it got featured globally. That’s when things got crazy and we got millions of views.

All of a sudden people in my real life knew about my videos and I got frightened because I was a bit of a private person and thought that my YouTube life was separate from me. I got overwhelmed and so I stopped—there were too many people trying to contact me and people started making videos about me. It was a whole community and it was great, but there were also a lot of people who were rude and that was hard. I had enough and ended up sending a goodbye video. Afterward, people would put up videos saying “Bring Devon back,” but that was the end of my YouTube career.

If you were to shoot your dream movie, what would it be about?

It would be about a female protagonist who accidentally enters this new, horrible world and is compelled to share her story and unique background. She shares her knowledge about social innovation, which involves embracing new ways of thinking about systems, resilience, abundance and complexity. Some citizens start to understand her and they build a secret society, but ultimately the old powers dominate and the female protagonist and her love interest are forced to flee.

The proceeds of the film will go toward social enterprise and innovation development.

What would the setting be like?

The film would take place in a fictional dystopian society where each family owns their own house and car and pretty much everything they use. Essentially, the world is an endless sprawl of suburbia and all citizens are very much the same, with minimal interaction and numbed emotions.

Who would you cast?

Jessica Chastain would be the female protagonist and Ryan Gosling would be her love interest.

What genre would it fall under?

It’s a romantic drama thriller. I’ve never been able to be very funny, anyway.

When would we expect this film to be in theatres?

You can expect the film to be in theatres in the summer of 2014!

Angelo Casanas

Angelo is the associate for corporate services at MaRS. As a recent convert to innovation, he assists the many moving parts of the MaRS ecosystem to meet the demands of both internal and external stakeholders. See more…