By: Randy Milton
Photography: Greg Hemmings, Hemmings House Pictures
When Greg Hemmings was asked what motivated him to want to inspire positive social change, the simplicity of the answer was surprising. “I don’t know where it comes from, it’s just more fun!” He went on to explain, “it’s been with me since I was a kid, I’m very conscious of injustices.” This awareness of the injustices of the world was a key motivator when Greg decided to start his company Hemmings House Pictures, where he and his team engage in what he has labelled as “Social Change Film Storytelling”
“We’re always thinking; ‘how do we make a film that’s entertaining, educational but is also going to be used as a tool to accelerate some sort of positive change we want to see.” Films that promote positive social change aren’t the only thing that Hemmings House Pictures produces, they also work with companies in the Saint John region who want to have their story told. “It’s a very nice symbiosis,” explained Greg. “If your story needs told, we will tell it. It might not be directly related to social change, but we’re working with companies who are doing great things in their communities. And we need the commercial projects to fund the social projects.”
Greg Hemmings founded Hemmings House Pictures in 2006 in Saint John, NB. “There is nothing more powerful than the forces of home,” said Greg when I asked him why he decided to locate in Saint John. As an entrepreneur, Greg saw it as a challenge for him to make a living right here at home. The year before Greg founded Hemmings House, in 2005, he was the recipient of the Young Entrepreneur of the year award at The Chamber’s Outstanding Business Awards. “That award said to me that the business community, who I didn’t really know anyone in at the time, was saying to me ‘we believe in you.’ This was a room full of people who could hire me, it was really important in my decision to stay.”
“Having The Chamber honour young entrepreneurs is powerful in helping them stay,” he added.
Hemmings House pictures operates under the triple bottom line approach. It requires that an equal focus is made on social and environmental concerns and profits. This approach to business has led Hemmings House to become Certified as a B Corporation, meaning they meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. Recently, Hemmings House has developed the goal of pledging 2% of its top-line revenue toward social and environmental initiatives, regardless of whether the company made a profit that year.
One way they have begun doing this is by becoming Carbon neutral. “We were audited to see how much Carbon we produce through all our air travel, car travel and all the servers we use.” Said Greg, “We found we produce close to 400 tonnes.” Hemmings House Pictures has been able to offset all the carbon they produce through Sackville based Community Forest International (CFI). “Through CFI, we help them buy forests here in New Brunswick to ensure healthy forests for tomorrow. They are still being sustainably harvested so the trees can continue to act as a carbon vacuum while the logging industry is still participating in a great way. We’re excited to be offsetting our carbon in a positive way for New Brunswick, both environmentally and economically.”
Hemmings House Pictures’ mandate is to contribute to a “happy and kind world through passionate storytelling.” And to Greg, that is priority #1. “It costs money to do things right,” he said “my supply chain needs to be tight, we need to pay our people well, be kind to the environment and clean up the mess we make. It all comes at a cost, but in the long-term, I will be a man with a clear conscience.”