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We (Still) Have Rights

Trailer for “We Have Rights” by Brooklyn Defender Services & the ACLU.

A year ago, the ACLU and Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) released a series of short videos entitled “We Have Rights.” The series walks viewers through what to do when interacting with Immigration & Custom Enforcement agents (ICE). Bumi Hidaka led the Flavorlab Sound team. They sound designed, mix, and recorded voice over on the project.

The goal of the series was help immigrants and their loved ones understand their rights when dealing with ICE. It also informs Americans who don’t have to deal with immigration of these challenges. A record number of immigrants and their loved ones called BDS in 2017 looking for clarification about ICE. With the volume of calls mounting, BDS looked for an effective way to provide some answers. They asked Micheal Kleiman of Media Tank to collaborate.

“This collaboration allowed me to be a problem solver for an issue I care deeply about. I jumped at the opportunity to craft these stories.”

Michael Kleiman, Founder & Executive Director at Media Tank

Most information available at the time was either in English or Spanish. Often this information required heavy reading. The goal was to publish content in more languages. And with a video, viewers don’t have to be literate. Michael, Abby Goldberg of Variant Strategies, and Scott Hechinger of BDS wrote the script. Each scenario was centered around accounts from the Immigrant Defense Project. Chilean audiovisual design studio, Fluorfilms, created the animation. Then, they called trusty composer, Dan Teicher. Michael then came to Bumi Hidaka for sound design, voice over, and mix.

As the videos are animations, Bumi had to build the entire sonic environment. Natural city sounds, like car horns and birds chirping, were taken from the street. To mimic each character speaking without getting in the way of narration, Bumi recorded a series of mumbles in place of the ICE agents’ voices. He even recorded some high pitched sniffling, acting as a crying little kid. Initially, BDS recorded voice over at Flavorlab. They hired 7 voice actors for each language. “I can’t speak all seven languages, so when we recorded I could only keep track by latching onto the phrase ‘We Have Rights’ in all its translations,” Bumi recalled.

“I really enjoy creating sound for animation. The environment had to feel real and that was powerful.”

Bumi Hidaka, audio engineer

As production was wrapping, The ACLU came on board. With their help, Michael and BDS landed key media placements. NowThis published the series. Brooklyn Libraries started playing the videos at their locations. The project caught the eye of a few notable actors and activists. In turn, many lent their voices as narrators in an updated release. You can hear Jesse Williams in the English version and Diane Guerrero in the Spanish version.

In the last year, the video has garnered around 10 million views. 5 million online and 5 million offline. The Notifica app, created by youth-led immigrant organization, United We Dream, now features the series. Media Tank and BDS are looking forward to more partnerships and getting the content out to those who need it most.

You can watch the full series below:
Find the 2020 continuation of the #WeHaveRights series below:
Voiced by Fiona Apple

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