Webby for Good is a collaborative program formed by The Webby Awards and WP Engine to showcase Webby-recognized projects built to change the world.
We love the power of technology when it expands our humanity: giving us scale, or bringing us closer. - JohnXHannes New York Team
What’s the elevator pitch for your project?
Corazón is a true story from Montefiore Hospital, which was founded in the Bronx in 1884 on the belief that everyone deserves access to world-class healthcare. They saw an opportunity to move people to action through the power of cinema. Directed by John Hillcoat and featuring Academy Award nominee Demian Bichir and Blade Runner 2049 star Ana de Armas, Corazón tells the story of Elena Ramirez, a sex worker whose heart is dying, and Montefiore’s Dr. Garcia, the only person who offers hope. The 48-minute film, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, highlighted the importance of organ donation, then made it easy for viewers to become part of the solution through mobile technology.
What was the impetus for this project? What real-world challenge were you trying to solve?
Right now, 115,000 Americans are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. Although 98% support organ donation, only 1 in 5 New Yorkers is a donor. Considering these statistics, how do you get more young people to register as organ donors? We aimed to highlight the importance of becoming an organ donor and inspire people to take action.
We knew we wanted to tell a true patient story. And it was such a remarkable story, by which we were immediately moved. Initially, we considered a documentary-style approach. But a breakthrough happened when we decided to make it a dramatic true story, realizing it would be more powerful to hire great actors and craft an emotional narrative around Elena. After we landed on that concept, we partnered with filmmaker John Hillcoat, who jumped in wholeheartedly. His creative reputation and vision opened doors to music and more talent, helping us bring Corazón to life. Audiences were moved by Elena’s story, then could become part of the solution via our “Give Your Heart” digital experience.
Once you settled on your idea, what was your first step in moving it forward?
Affecting real change is hard, especially when it comes to organ donation. Our approach was twofold. First, make people feel something. Then make it easy to become part of the solution. Montefiore enthusiastically embraced this opportunity through CMO Loreen Babcock, who became our brave collaborative partner. Once we identified the true story we wanted to tell, we began film development with director John Hillcoat and screenwriter Kelley Sane. We also launched mobile and technology exploration to create the quickest, most seamless organ-donor registry experience possible. More than just a tagline, “Give Your Heart” became a complete effort to inspire real change—a literal call to action.
Was there a moment during the project where you ran into a hurdle; or faced a problem you didn’t know how to solve? Take us to this moment, what happened and what did you do next?
Working on a film of this length, you always hope for more days to capture the story. We literally ran out of time in Santo Domingo and had to construct a set to replicate one aspect of the story when we filmed in the Bronx. We also felt we needed to capture more of the feeling of Santo Domingo, so we went back with an amazing drone crew to pick up some of the gorgeous elemental shots seen throughout. Our biggest overall challenge was our schedule. We went from screenplay to final edited film in less than 60 days.
Did the real-world impact meet your expectations? Can you share an example?
We achieved wide-spread awareness of the great work done at Montefiore:
-10 million people watched Corazón—Give Your Heart content
-10,000 New Yorkers saw Corazón the film
-5,000 new donors added, saving potentially tens of thousands of lives*
* 1 organ donor can save up to 8 lives
What technologies/media did you use to develop this project (AI, Social Media, WordPress, etc.)?
The Corazón—Give Your Heart experience was built with custom web technology that paired with interactive billboards and kiosks. Viewers also paired their mobile devices by pressing phones to hearts, so each phone’s built-in accelerometer could measure a viewer’s heartbeat. Heartbeats per minute were displayed on-screen, bringing our hero, Ana de Armas, to life on interactive movie posters in theaters and around Times Square. After users metaphorically gave their hearts, they were asked to literally give them as well. Using our interactive outdoor technology, viewers were prompted to register as organ donors with Donate Life America in just 15 seconds.
Was the tech/medium you chose crucial to conveying your message? If so, why?
Technology played a crucial role. It gave us scale, and was essential for crafting an easy-to-use method by which viewers could participate in our organ donation sign-up challenge. More fundamentally, creating a digital destination where viewers could watch the film and then be prompted to give their hearts was crucial for sharing our message with as many people as possible. We had success getting people to respond, once they’d been moved by feelings of empathy for Elena’s story.
How did this project defy your expectations?
We had a great partner in Loreen Babcock and the Montefiore team. The real patient (who’s doing well) was generous with her time, even visiting during one day of filming. Everyone believed in what we were doing, including the remarkable doctors. Open and generous, they realized this project had the potential to help others and do a lot of good. Being driven by a larger purpose was incredibly inspiring, allowing us to bring in world-class talent every step of the way. We got to work with director John Hillcoat, screenwriter Kelley Sane, Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Bradford Young, and Academy Award-winning composer Atticus Ross to see this project come to life.
How will you use technology in future work to create inspiring, cutting-edge projects that also make a difference in people’s lives?
We love the power of technology when it expands our humanity: giving us scale, or bringing us closer. We wanted to use entertainment and digital platforms to affect real change with Corazón, while also striving to keep it human. At its best, technology can be leveraged to make experiences easier for users. Our work in the future will always follow that same principle. We’ll strive to keep it simple, thinking of the human experience and how to best impact people in real ways.