Watch the winning Dazed 100 projects come to life amid the pandemic

“Don’t let the world make you feel like you are insignificant because you’re young.” Ella Snyder’s advice neatly sums up the purpose of the Dazed 100 in a year when everything that seemed set in stone has been thrown up in the air – ready for the catching by those who want to redefine our future. The most ambitious Dazed 100 campaign ever was met, in true #2020 style, by the most disruptive and deadly pandemic in living memory. But the culture won’t be beaten so easily.

Platforming 100 of the most exciting new talents across fashion, music, film, TV, art, and activism, the Dazed 100 transformed to meet the moment. In partnership with Converse, Dazed created a £50k Ideas Fund to split between four recipients undertaking projects to create positive change; and in August we hosted the first ever Dazed 100 Academy, bringing four more talents and their creative circles together online for a series of masterclasses.

In this new documentary, we meet the four fund recipients: DJ Freedem, who launched a website to expand the Underground Plant Trade initiative, which sees white people give black people plants; Ella Snyder, who is creating a photobook to document and celebrate members of her trans community; Henrie Kwushue, who hired marginalised creatives to produce a film series of Untold Stories; and Alfie White, who is building a photo essay of the pandemic’s effects on people in the UK, and a global, collaborative photo-document of 2020.

“I was still working a regular restaurant job before the pandemic, and that all stopped,” DJ Freedem says in the film. “It gave me more time to think about what I wanted to do creatively (and) that’s where I had time to think about the Underground Plant Trade.” The documentary goes behind the scenes with the creative as he launches the project website, and follows an exchange of plants between people who met on the platform. “The greatest achievement within my project, I would say, is I brought more people together,” he says. “Months later, it’s fall, and people are still getting plants and giving people plants.”

“This project is… a really big step for me personally in connecting with my own community after having been a stealth trans woman for so long,” Ella Snyder says. “I feel like hiding that part of my identity really created a disconnect with me and my community, and this project is allowing me to explore artistically this new space that I was once too afraid to explore.” In the film, we see Ella shooting on set with trans supermodel Connie Fleming. “I feel like this is the first time I’ve ever really been taken seriously as an artist,” Ella says, “people that I look up to are now seeing me, and are interested in what I have to say and what I want to do, and they’re here to help me achieve those goals, so it’s really crazy, it’s really hard to believe.”

“I really just wanted to be able to give people who are underprivileged and who don’t get as much opportunity… a foot in the door, because it was super hard for me to be able to do anything within the TV world, let alone media,” says Henrie Kwushue. The film follows Henrie behind the scenes shooting her Untold Stories series. “The one piece of advice I give all the time – and it’s going to be such a cliche! – but it’s literally to be authentically yourself, like especially if you want to build and grow a platform, ‘cause that’s like the whole point of it, people buy into who you are, not who you’re trying to be.”

“What (the pandemic has) resulted in is this collective striving for change, and not accepting things just because that’s the way they are,” says photographer Alfie White, who we watch shooting subjects for Herd Immunity, his COVID-19 photo essay. “The project came to me about mid-March or so… I was just hearing the stories of people who’d been affected already and this lack of coverage on it… lack of acknowledgement from the government. And it was just this thing of like: how can I, with the tools I possess, help to amplify these voices?”

The documentary also highlights four Dazed 100 talents who hosted sessions as part of the inaugural Dazed 100 Academy, a two-day series of creative and activist workshops held online in late summer. Musician Beabadoobee ran a songwriting workshop with special guests Sabrina Fuentes (of Pretty Sick) and fellow Dazed 100er Joy Crookes. “One thing I enjoyed when doing the workshop was answering questions on writer’s block,” Bea says in the film. “I was actually going through a writer’s block at the time, and it was really interesting to hear about what other people did. It kind of helped me in a way.”

Model and activist Deba hosted a dance workshop with Jukebox collective, meanwhile, and presented a conversation about how to use your platform online to create real change, joined by artist Syd Falls, musician Djenaba, and stylist Payzee Malika. “I like to use my social media to inform people about the issues that we are currently going through, to advocate change. That is something I’m very passionate about,” Deba says. “It was really amazing to put faces and names to all these people that I’ve never met before but are… actively showing their interest in the things that I want to promote.”

Introducing the topic of her panel ‘Staying Safe and Staying Sane’ with Kemi Alemoru and Rosa Kimosa, photographer Danika Magdelena says: “I feel like mental health was definitely a priority during this pandemic because everyone’s perception of life kind of changed because no one knew what was going on, we’ve never experienced something like this in our generation. So I guess a lot of people are feeling lost and scared, and kind of just like: what do I do now?”

Musician Joy Crooks brought together industry friends including broadcaster Lil C, make-up artist Mata Marielle and Sony partnerships manager Pedro Powell to discuss starting out in the creative industries as a person of colour. “I didn’t have anyone that was necessarily creative within my vicinity in my family,” Joy says, “It’s really important to have transparency and have some of your questions – that you can’t exactly Google – answered.”

The documentary looks back over a crazy year for everyone, and shines a light on the most exciting emerging creative and activist voices doing pioneering work in a world that has totally transformed. Inspiring each and every one of us to embody the energy of this year’s Dazed 100 campaign, DJ Freedem has some wisdom to impart: “My biggest advice is to obsess over your passion. Forget about everything else. Figuring out your passion, learning everything about it and obsessing over it, and like, forgetting all the outside noise, is literally the recipe for success.”