“This is a passionate project”, “cause”, “meaning”.
Thus, Dimitar Panayotov and Alexander Nikolov – two boys aged 29 and 30, defining their work behind documentalisti.bg – a digital platform that aims to develop socially significant issues through interactive formats and techniques. The two are friends united by interests in basic journalism and documentary, which a tragedy six years ago motivated to spread an important topic.
“The Last Gift of Man” is a documentary multimedia story about organ donation in Bulgaria. In a chapter (in general) it is dedicated to the story of Alexander’s brothers – George, who died in September 2015 at the age of 21 after a cerebral hemorrhage. The family allows the boy to become a donor. Alexander decided to return from London (at that time he was graduating with a bachelor’s degree in photojournalism there) and a few months later at the suggestion of his friend Dimitar – who graduated in journalism from Sofia University “St. Klimen Ohridski” – enrolled in a master’s degree in e-Europe “with Professor Nelly Ognyanova. According to Dimitar, “she is the most modern thinking person for digital media in Bulgaria”. I both drew a mentor on the project.
“The idea itself evolved at some stage, we even went through the idea of a book, but we decided that the only multimedia project would be much more useful for society and for communication on the topic itself, due to the simple fact that it will reach many more people.” , shows Alexander Nikolov in front of “Dnevnik”. He is responsible for the photos and Dimitar is responsible for the text.
No one expected it to open up. “We went quite deep and I can win this, nor let it go for six years. We wanted to understand the biggest details that are being used. To do an in-depth journalistic investigation, with many participants, with different opinions, to gather the facts. We managed to let’s do some, “says Alexander.
“It’s not just death, it’s death that changes. Changing the radical involvement of people who receive organs from George, changing his family, changing his young friends, making them rethink life, changing public attitudes about donation, thanks to numerous reports made by the media about him. Change me and Alexander, not even driving to follow the last 6 years of his life, creating this story, “wrote Dimitar in the head chapter of” The Last Gift of Man ”
The two managed to reduce the donor situation, to meet with over 100 people – doctors, patients and families from all over the country. Some of them are not suitable for the desired organ, others for years after transplantation are completely changed and fulfilled with life.
The only conclusion is that “everyone is very rotten.” But the idea of the project is to raise the issue of donation, not to disappoint readers, to communicate with people, which is not much talked about. For the hope of a new life.
“At any given time, between 1,000 and 1,200 people are waiting for an organ in Bulgaria. The number of practices is constant. Some die, others enter the list and this parental circle remains closed. Despite political changes, technological advances and joint medicine, Bulgarian transplantology is in unshakable lethargy “, write in” The Last Gift of Man “his authority.
The project gives them meaning, but also causes them a lot of “psychological trauma”, says Dimitar. Because what is seen, heard, experienced always remains somewhere around you. “When you close your eyes in the evening and see things you shouldn’t see,” Alexander said.
For both, the last six years have been years of hard work. To get a text out, it goes through about seven editors, including a photo editor for photos.
The biggest problem of the Bulgarian media
For me, “The Last Gift of Man” is a cause for donation and journalism. When I was a teenager, I wanted to be a journalist, I wanted to seek to participate in law. I encountered a brutal reality and began to learn how naughty This happened in 2011. The people who came in with me were involved in journalism, “says Dimitar. According to him, he and Alexander are from people “who create their own environment”, specifying that he does not want to sound fragrant.
Compared to them, the biggest problem of the Bulgarian media is the lack of funding and the lack of different formats to present important topics.
“This is the only passionate project. If it started every month by me – 29 and 30 years old, it will not be done. We started very young. In 2016 at 23, Sasho at 24. We were students and we could give ourselves completely “We didn’t have families, cars and apartments. The categories were met at a regular time, in the right motivation to gather this information,” Dimitar said.
“To meet with the week in hospitals, to meet with many people, after a few times from all over the country. This thing cannot be done as journalists in normal media. For this no one can allow to be revealed for long time without a product. This is a huge amount of work and time, “Dimitar thought. Over the years he has worked on various digital projects such as marketing, journalist, editor.
Some time ago he made the site for culture “Under the bridge”. Two years ago, he remained part of the “Speak Internet” podcast, where he is a product and editor-in-chief of the “Day” news podcast. Alexander works at the Biodiversity Foundation. Bachelor of Photojournalism at the University of the Arts London and Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain.
Different forms of financing
Alexander and Dimitar set up the Documentaries Foundation in 2020. They are winning a project of Sofia Municipality under the “Culture” program, but in the future several more methods for financing will be considered – through donations (at the time of talks, a few days after the site was launched without being advertised, collected about 5 thousand levs only from donations).
“We have also sought funding through sponsors, but not very persistently and successfully. The problem is that people cannot present to you what I am talking about. This format is successful, new for Bulgaria, it sounds bombastic, epic. But in Bulgaria we are used to hearing as someone will do something unique and amazing in both politics and causes, but for the most part it will be just words.Without a portfolio and without showing what there is, people have been very skeptical of what we are did “, says Dimitar and assumes that it may already be easier. Their plans are to fix co-production with other media, as well as to start selling “physical products” – books, photos, exhibitions.
Their idea is to create a trans media – to be able to tell – a story through different channels, but without repeating them. Website, book, podcasts and anyone who brings different information. “These are individual products with different stories, different experiences. Different channels cover different parts of the story and interact with each other and trigger search. So the end user to get the most complete picture, to search and to walk between different channels “, say both Alexander and Dimitar.
Climate change in the Bulgarian context
The next topic that can be included is related to ecology and the impact on climate change in relation to the Bulgarian reality. “The biggest problem with choosing the next topic is that it will be compared to this project,” Alexander said. From his work in the eco-organization, seeing. that there are no data, no measurements, no clear exact facts, which according to how climate change is reflected in Bulgaria, and have only forecasts.
“The topic should be socially significant and refracted through the Bulgarian reality. A topic should be toasted through personal stories, but also with very serious facts and data. A suitable topic is the demographic crisis in Bulgaria,” Dimitar said.
“Light” – this is how the future of documentary filmmaker Dimitar is defined in one word. Access to technology, in the whole process of creating a single documentary story – relatively easy to use web technologies, affordable content creation devices, now allow the creation of “indie” documentaries – with the help of much smaller teams and limited budgets “, says Dimitar.
He is most impressed by the boom in photo books and, in part, the creation of independent periodicals in small editions. “I think this trend will continue, which is why the number of collectors is growing in parallel with the supply.”
To return between the basements of Alexandrovska, stray dogs and Winston Churchill
The topic of donation is to be presented in several more chapters, which will be built by the end of 2021. On several occasions, both Dimitar and Alexander say that the idea is to reach the maximum number of people. But they also admit that in the moments when they wondered if their efforts made sense, they understood that even if only one person read “The Last Gift of Man”, it would already be a gift for them and would mean that you was worth it. On the ninth of October – Saturday (when it is celebrated on the day of donation), a third chapter will be published, which “is done with the most adrenaline”. In it, after five years of waiting, they manage to keep the real donor situation.
In the following chapters, photos of transplants will be shown, but “aesthetically, so that people can use the atmosphere”, there will be a part about the history of donation, as well as people will learn what the Alexandrovska basement has in common, without puppies. and Winston There are also archival footage that no one else has – for a kidney transplant in Bulgaria “, Dimitar shows excitedly. There will also be a chapter, which he defines as the most difficult to read, but also very important -” policies and problems “. There will also be a positive chapter with the stories of the people who received a new organ, and the epilogue will remain a secret, but for Dimitar it will be so emotional that it begins.