Chris Temple and Zach Ingrasci

Chris Temple and Zach Ingrasci

Co-Founders of Optimist | Award-Winning Documentary Filmmakers

From living in a tent in a Syrian refugee camp to working as radish farmers and surviving on $1 a day in Guatemala, Chris Temple and Zach Ingrasci are award-winning humanitarians, activists, and filmmakers. On-stage, they demystify some of the world’s most complex situations, leaving audiences feeling more connected and empowered to make a difference.

As co-founders of Optimist, Chris and Zach have received widespread acclaim as bold storytellers and compassionate leaders of social justice — honored with the 2016 Muslim Public Affairs Council Annual Media Award, and recognized alongside Bill Gates and Angelina Jolie as two of the top 100 visionary leaders of 2015 by YPO’s Real Leaders Magazine. They have been called upon to share their expertise at TEDx, the United Nations, and the World Humanitarian Summit, and have been featured on CBS This Morning, as well as in major publications including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic and Variety.

Chris and Zach began their journey in college, when they produced, directed, and starred in their first film, Living on One Dollar. The film was #1 on iTunes for documentaries, featured on the homepage banner of Netflix, and called “A Must Watch” by Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus. Their second feature documentary, Salam Neighbor, provides an intimate look into the lives of Syrian refugees, through their lens as the first filmmakers ever given a tent and registered inside of a refugee camp. Most recently, Chris and Zach collaborated with the UN Refugee Agency and Google to create Searching for Syria, an immersive online hub that answers the world’s top searched questions about Syria. The project was featured on the homepage of Google, received over 25 million views, and won a 2017 Webby Award for the internet’s “Best Use of Photography.”

Equal parts filmmaker and humanitarian, Chris and Zach have been on the front lines fighting for human rights and have raised over 1.6 million dollars to directly empower disenfranchised communities through microfinance, education, and refugee resettlement.

Stories Move People—Commercials Don't

This talk is a must-see for any organization looking to improve how they convey their brand to customers and donors. Chris and Zach are hands-on directors with experience making feature documentaries with Netflix, branded films for Google, and their own viral video series that have been seen over 35 million times across social media. In this presentation you’ll learn the fundamentals of storytelling, and how they apply to your brand and audience engagement efforts. This talk is not about advertising strategies, it’s about cutting through the noise by telling your story in an authentic and impactful way.

Living on $1 a Day: Innovation and Inspiration from the Forgotten Billion

Inspiring and practical for all audiences

Over 1.1 billion people in the world survive on less than $1 a day. This talk will take you beyond the statistic and demonstrate how families must be innovative to survive life on the edge of destitute poverty.

Join accidental filmmakers Chris and Zach, whose research project living on $1 a day for two months in rural Guatemala led the duo down an unexpected path. What began as a moment of curiosity has grown into two award-winning documentaries on Netflix, over $1 million raised directly for aid, education, and microfinance, and a clear understanding that the poor are our best partners in ending extreme poverty.

Through engaging use of video, personal stories, and professional experience, Chris and Zach will help you build empathy for others around the world, achieve a sense of gratitude for the opportunities at your fingertips, practice curiosity to discover your passion, and equip yourself with the tools you need to create change.

Making the Most of your Good Intentions

Inspiring for anyone looking to maximize their impact (businesses, non-profits, religious organizations, etc.)

This dynamic presentation will equip you with the tools you need to create change, whether in your business, non-profit, church, or day-to-day life. Appropriate for any audience looking to capitalize on their good intentions and turn ideas into action, this presentation will ask the hard questions and leave you with the inspiration and the practical tools to make the most of your charitable efforts. While many seek to make an impact on the world, we must first learn how.

As Harvard Dean James Ryan says, the most important step is to recognize that people are experts in their own lives, and before you set out, to always ask, “how can I help?” By integrating media, personal storytelling, and key development strategies, Chris and Zach will provide a road map to help you get started, build your impact, and measure your change.

Fighting Fear Through Dialogue

Inspiring and practical for all audiences

Faced with a constant stream of violence and anger across every news channel, it often feels like our world has been more divided. Fear of “the other” is on the rise. Open, respectful dialogue has become increasingly rare. Now is the time to reverse this trend by expanding our perspective and understanding of our global neighbors of different backgrounds, religions, and ethnicities.

As the first filmmakers ever allowed to be registered and given a tent inside a refugee camp, Chris and Zach provide an intimate look into the lives of their Syrian friends, while offering practical and immediate strategies to be a better global neighbor. Incorporating elements of their award-winning film Salam Neighbor, Chris and Zach’s interactive and multimedia presentation will put a human face to one of the world’s most complex crises.

By meeting Um Ali, a grandmother who’s turning trash into art, and the street smart, 10-year-old Raouf, this presentation will demonstrate our shared humanity and leave you more connected and empowered to make a difference.

Filmmakers in Residence Workshop: Telling Stories To Actually Change the World

Perfect for any conference, school, or creative audience

We believe a good story has the power to change hearts, minds, and even policy. This interactive workshop will help guide you through the creative process for your film or video, from ideation through release and impact campaign. The program can run from 1-3 days, with the longer program allowing for more direct creation by students, as well as feedback on their work.

As representatives of the American Film Showcase by the U.S. Department of State, Chris and Zach have traveled globally to provide filmmaker trainings and workshops to students and adults.

This workshop will begin by pushing the boundaries of what a documentary “means to you” through a diverse range of examples, before answering the question “why”, by establishing your goals, intended audience, and desired impact. From there, Chris and Zach will demonstrate how to conceptualize and write an outline for your project, as well as walk through an introduction to the fundamentals of filming, interviewing, editing, visual style, and designing a custom impact strategy for your piece.

In a collaborative and safe environment, all attendees will learn there is no “wrong” in a creative endeavor.

The Financial Secrets of the World’s Poor

Inspiring and practical for any audiences wanting to help

Extreme poverty is not simply a lack of money. It is also a lack of choice, time, and opportunity.

This talk will set up the financial realities of the extreme poor, challenge the many misconceptions about their lives, and show what lessons charitable organizations can learn from the people they’re trying to help.

Among many challenges, the extreme poor face four financial realities that often limit their ability to bring themselves out of poverty. They suffer from low incomes, irregular incomes, unpredictable lives, and almost no access to traditional loans or savings accounts. In response, the poor all over the world have innovated their own solutions to issues of extreme poverty, which offer us the best insights into how charitable organizations can help.

There is no one solution to extreme poverty, but if we start by recognizing that the poor are experts in their own lives, and our best partners in global efforts to end extreme poverty, we can realize a world without extreme poverty.