24.04.2018 Responsible Business Week: Meet Matt Callanan, the filmmaker who makes good happen

This week is Responsible Business Week and we’re sharing the stories of people and businesses that inspire us to want to make the world a better place.

First up is someone pretty inspirational,  who combines creativity and caring to make a real difference.

Matt Callanan is a former worldwide DJ and musician, turned filmmaker. He runs The Makers film agency in Cardiff, and is also the founder of kindness project We Make Good Happen (which was kickstarted after he met his hero Bill Murray when he was filming in George Clooney’s house!).

He likes to bring people together to do good for other people – which saw him being included in The Independent’s Happy List “50 inspirational heroes whose kindness, courage and selflessness make our country a better place to live.”

Amongst the acts of kindness he has been responsible for are throwing a birthday party for a 100-year-old lady in a care home who had no family (and adopting her an a ‘nan’), and hiding £10 notes in envelopes around Cardiff and encouraging the finders to do some good with it (an idea that went viral and ended up on the Russell Howard show).

We’re delighted to share Matt’s story with you.

What does ‘responsible business’ mean to you?

For me it’s about thinking how you can do some good in the community that you work in. Posing this question is a good start: What time and skills do we have in our team that may benefit a local charity or good cause? I think that profit and a positive impact is something all businesses should strive for.

Why do you think responsible business is important?

When an act of kindness happens, usually happiness is increased with both the giver and receiver. If you involve your staff in doing good for others, their wellbeing is likely to improve and it’s likely to improve how they work as a team.

It would be great to see more businesses and business people thinking about how they could make a positive impact, a deeper cause and a mission more important than money.

The world doesn’t really need more millionaires. It needs a world filled with people with compassion, using their skills for good, with more of a community feel.

What are the upsides of responsible business practice, for you? 

Since bringing more kindness into my personal life and the business, my world has become more technicolour. I’ve met some amazing people,  spoken to some great groups and I’ve lost count of the incredible opportunities that have come about. 

What have you done in your business that you are most proud of? 

Through my kindness project We Make Good Happen and using our video skills at The Makers we’ve been able to provide a number of films for free to a number of charities.

Locally we’ve helped organisations like Ty Hafan. About two years ago a photographer I knew had heard about the good deeds I was doing and invited me to film one of their Christmas events (when Santa flies in to visit the children with the Wales Air Ambulance). Being a recent new dad at that point I was completely moved by the amazing things they did at Ty Hafan, so after the filming, I spoke to staff and said we’d help out where we can for free.

This is the Ty Hafan Nurses video we recently produced for them:

One of the national charities we also produce films for free is Hope For Children. I was invited to go and film in Uganda and Ghana after I met Adam Dickens of Taking Pictures, Changing Lives. That came about after I volunteered for Deki, a microfinance charity.

Adam’s model is pretty unique in the fact that he crowdfunds his trips for a year and he donates his time and photography skills for free for charities around the world. Last year with the £17,000 he raised he helped 13 charities raise £600,000, which impacted 100,000 people in 10 countries.

With the videos we produced through The Makers and We Make Good Happen we helped Hope for Children raise £500k. That’s incredibly satisfying and eye opening, and shows the impact storytelling through video and photos can be.

Hope for Children – Head Held High

What businesses do you think are doing great work when it comes to giving back? 

Taking Pictures Changing Lives

Yes do check out photographer Adam Dicken’s Taking Pictures Changing Lives project, which is having a massive impact around the world. Essentially he donates his photography skills for free for various charities around the world. He is a great example of how 1 person can have an impact on thousands.

I’ve recently interviewed Adam as part of my We Make Success Happen podcast where he talks about a defining moment that made him question everything and the various situations he’s found himself in around the world.


This Bristol based micro-finance charity lets you make small loans to small entrepreneurs in places like Africa, to help them build their businesses. So it could be that they are trying to borrow money to buy more tools so they can increase their stock, and effectively provide for their family. 100% of your money goes to your chosen entrepreneur. They will pay the loan back to you via Deki, who encourage you to re-lend the money to someone else. It’s such a great model. I’ve loaned money for 25 businesses so far, and it’s great to be updated on their story. It’s a hand up, rather than a handout. Plus Vashti, the woman that established it, has an enthralling story behind why she started it.

How do you think we can inspire more businesses to give back, and the next generation of entrepreneurs to put purpose at the heart of their business?

Do good authentically within your community. Then tell others about it and encourage businesses around you get involved. Think about the positive legacy your business, projects and ideas could create.

Quite a few of the good deeds I achieve with We Make Good Happen I do with my 3-year-old son Alby, as it’s really important to demonstrate to future generations what can be achieved by small acts of kindness and being a part of the community.

Matt is speaking at the sold-out TEDx Canton on 19th May (which will be broadcast live too).Check out his brilliant new podcast here: