GJ couple rejects reality TV, launches own network, LGH
Morgan and David Hansow, international free traders, potential TV network executives and Fruita Monument High School sweethearts, carry light to the world by the way they live it.
David Hansow called it “finding beauty in risk” when he discussed a feature-length film about their lives in a 2012 Daily Sentinel story.
Since that story was published, several business developments moved the family in a totally new direction.
First, Light Gives Heat, the Hansow’s nonprofit organization based in Grand Junction, handed off its business of contracting for goods and services in Uganda.
By the time the Hansows gave away the business, it had contracted with 120 Ugandan artisans who manufactured jewelry for export to the U.S. and earned fair wages in return. The ripple effect of the effort touched many lives in a positive way, Hansow said.
Last year, the couple decided to transfer LGH’s interests in Uganda, for free, to All Across Africa, the business venture of a trusted friend.
In addition to the contracts LGH had with Ugandan artisans, it also gave over all of its hard assets, including buildings and equipment.
All Across Africa has a proven track record of fair trading with African entrepreneurs. The Hansows trust the new business relationships will continue to generate fair trade contracts for their former contractors in Uganda, David Hansow said.
All Across Africa now distributes Ugandan jewelry at Sam’s Club and Costco, resulting in even higher returns for the workers, he said.
On the movie front, the Hansows’ feature-length documentary, “Move On,” produced in 2012 at a cost of $250,000, won awards at film festivals around the world, Morgan Hansow said.
Acclaim for the film attracted an Australian film distribution company that offered the couple a new avenue to get their story out, Hansow said.
As a result, “Moving On” is currently showing on television networks in the United Kingdom, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and the Middle East, she said.
The deal will help the Hansows recoup the costs of the film, which they hope will eventually turn a profit.
U.S. distribution to outlets like Netflix and iTunes begins in November, David Hansow said.
“It will have a 20-theater release and then go to video on demand,” he said.
In July, Huffington Post, a popular online news magazine, named the Hansows one of five “Social Entrepreneurs Who Could Change the World.”
“It’s a crazy huge honor, especially as we end a transitional year in the organization and are moving away from direct operations in Uganda and focusing more on media,” Morgan Hansow said.
THE REALITY OF REALITY TV
Relieved of direct responsibility of the import/export business and enamored of the power of media, the Hansows decided to jump on the reality television bandwagon last year to promote their message of self-realization through helping others.
“We’ve seen the power of media in storytelling and the huge need for noteworthy storytelling,” Hansow said.
Last fall, the Hansows worked with the same film production company that helped them make “Move On” to produce a “sizzle reel” for use as a mini-pilot for a reality television show about their family and their travels, David Hansow said.
The couple did three-minute elevator pitches and screened the pilot for producers at TLC, Discovery, Discovery International, National Geographic, and the Travel Channel during the 2014 Realscreen Summit in Washington, D.C., in January.
During the pitches, the couple described their show as “Anthony Bourdain with kids.” Bourdain, a renowned chef from New York City, is the subject a CNN reality show about his trips in search of dining experiences in remote locations around the world.
Despite the clever comparison, there were no takers for the show, Morgan Hansow said.
“We saw producers cry (as they watched the mini-pilot),” Hansow said. “All the networks at Realscreen told us we had beautiful footage and outstanding capabilities, but our show concept was ‘too earnest’ and needed to be ‘sexed up,’” she said.
“They had shame in their voice,” Hansow said. “Some of them were really self-aware. One of them said, ‘I hate what I have to tell you.’ “
Hansow said the producer was disgusted by the prevailing perception of the viewing public’s appetite for pap.
“We had to make a decision. Either we bend on this, or we find another way,” David Hansow said.
Going naked for the show, a new trend in reality TV, is not an option, he joked. That’s when they hit on the idea of creating their own television network.
“We said, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ and this month, we’ll be starting a Kickstarter campaign to raise $50,000 to $100,000 to launch LGH.tv and the first season of three different online shows, all of which have an underlying theme that we as humans are more capable than we’ve been led to believe,” Morgan Hansow said.
With an expertise in product development, marketing, branding and film, Light Gives Heat TV will be in the business of pointing out beauty, and world change, wherever it’s found, she said.
For more information, visit lightgivesheat.org.