FAQs - What Matters?
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What is What Matters?

A feature length documentary about three friends, two idealistic activists and one skeptic, attempting to live in poverty, on $1.25 a day, across 3 continents. The adventure takes a devastating turn when two of them survive a deadly plane crash in Africa, and all three must fight to finish what they started. TOP

How did this all begin?

In 2005, Dan traveled to the second largest slum in Africa, Kenya’s Kibera slum. In Kibera, the average person lives on $1.25 a day; there are no paved roads, no indoor plumbing or sewage control, and the houses are made out of mud, sticks, and scrap metal. Upon returning home, Dan felt a desire to make a difference but also could sense that conviction waning and decided to make a film that could help keep that passion alive. In 2007, he invited Rob and David to join him thus beginning the long fundraising and development process ending with all three leaving for Africa July 5, 2009. TOP

What is the goal?

The goal was to make a funny, adventurous and compelling film about the ability young people have to make a difference in the extreme poverty and injustice in this world. What makes the film truly special is that it takes an honest, straightforward approach to extreme poverty that appeals to both the activist and the apathetic. Our overall goal is “to connect those who need something to live for with those who just need something to live.” We hope the film challenges the viewer to ask themselves two questions, ‘What Breaks their Heart?’ & ‘What Makes them come alive’ and think of ways to put those together. TOP

Is What Matters? also called Give A Damn?

Yes, the original name for the film was Give A Damn? It was Rob’s idea and based on the fact that the film was originally all about trying to get him to care about extreme poverty. We felt it was a good “in your face” name, and we ran with it. If you want to trace back the history of What Matters?, just do a search for Give A Damn? Documentary on google and you will find a lot.

We created an alternate name because we realized some of our target audience was offended by the title and it closed a lot of doors for us. We have always wanted as many people to hear our story as possible, and did not want the title of the film to be a stumbling block. So What Matters? was born. Last of all, once the film was finished, we realized as a team that in many ways What Matters? was a more appropriate title because this question comes up as Rob decides if he should return to the plane, David thinks about it as he listens to Dan in the hospital, and Rob ends the film saying, “You have to figure out what really matters, and I think its people.” TOP

Is What Matters? affiliated with any religious/political organization?

We are not directly affiliated with any organization or church, but faith or the lack thereof, plays a big role in each of our lives and a big role in the film. TOP

Can you show the film at my college/high school/church/prison?

Hopefully. Email us at whatmattersfilm@gmail.com. In your email please include full name, location you want to screen, phone number and email. TOP

Where can I see the film?

Check out our screenings page. You can also purchase a DVD at our store or stream the film online. TOP

Where does the money from merchandise sales go?

We are still paying off the expenses that went into making the film. Once we start to make a profit, 50% of the funds received will go to fighting extreme poverty and injustice to organizations we believe in. Check out some of them in our “Take Action” page. TOP

What projects are you working on now?

Dan continues to work in film through his company Speak Up Productions, and is currently working on a number of documentaries.

David has started his own non-profit, When the Saints. Check it out!

Rob is living in Springfield, MO and works for Scotts-Miracle Gro and does video work through his company Hambone Productions. TOP

How can I get involved? a.k.a. “I saw the film. What now?”

If you are interested in volunteering or interning with us, fill out the info on our contact page and we will get back to you as soon as possible. If you want to get involved in fighting extreme poverty and injustice, visit our “Take Action” page. We recommend as you think about getting involved, ask yourself two questions: What breaks your heart? and What makes you come alive? And then find a way to put those two things together. TOP

Post Film Watching Questions

(May spoil some stuff!)

How are the Pilots’ families?

As much as that day forever changed the What Matters? teams lives, it affected the families of Frank Toews and Ryan Williams in ways we could never imagine. Both men left four kids and a wife that are continually dealing with the loss of their fathers and husbands.

Immediately following the crash, the team agreed that the film would be dedicated to Frank and Ryan. Both wives have seen the film, and support our mission because it reflects their husbands mission to look out for the “least of these.” Both families continue to support the mission of African Inland Mission (aimair.org), the organization their husbands worked for.

Is Rob a Christian now?

No, but he no longer considers himself such an angry athiest. In his own words, “We (society) are fighting too much over too little. We need to learn how to live together.”

Is Dan alright?

He is doing much better and has gained all his weight back. He still has recurring issues following the surgery, but nothing compared to the issues he had the 9 months following the plane crash.

How is David’s project “When the Saints” going?

You can keep up with everything they are doing at the When the Saints website and you can learn more about the film they did with Speak Up Productions here.


Official Selection - PovertyCure International Short Film Festival 2013 Official Selection - United Film Festival 2013 Visionary Award - Awareness Film Festival 2012 Official Selection - LES Film Festival 2011 Best Documentary - Cinema St. Louis Fimmaker's Showcase 2011 Official Selection - Heartland Film Festival 2011 Official Selection - St. Louis International Film Festival 2011 Official Selection - Africa World Documentary Film Festival 2011 Official Selection - Omaha Film Festival 2011