Supporter Spotlight: 12 Stars Media
By: Seth Johnson
As the co-founders of 12 Stars Media, Rocky Walls and Zach Downs both share a passion for telling meaningful stories.
“We love using documentary-style video to tell stories, and that’s what we’ve always done,” Walls says. “We tell the stories of interesting characters who inspire communities to make positive changes.”
Having worked with everyone from large corporations to small nonprofits since their start in 2007, 12 Stars Media was contacted by IBCF executive director Laura Alvarado in 2017 about working together on video content highlighting the foundation’s initiatives. In particular, Walls vividly remembers the first time he and the 12 Stars Media team were invited onto the campus of Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ISBVI) for a tour.
“Being of the mindset of telling stories that are centered around people, we were just like, ‘Man, there’s all kinds of great stuff going on here.’ From the horticulture classes to the Christmas tree farm to the Braille Challenge,” Walls says. “As we walked around, we were just like, ‘Wow! There will be plenty of stories to tell.’ So we jumped on board.”
12 Stars Media quickly got to work on putting together a video for IBCF’s 2017 Through the Looking Glass Gala highlighting the arts and music programs at ISBVI. Since then, 12 Stars Media has continued making videos for IBCF Galas, while also highlighting other IBCF programs like the No Limits Arts Series.
As a matter of fact, 12 Stars Media was awarded a Regional Emmy for the short documentary they did on the No Limits Arts Series, which specifically highlighted the Leadership Club’s partnership with the Eiteljorg Museum. Looking back on his experience with that project, Walls admits the documentary is a great example of why he loves working with IBCF.
“At the beginning, you get to hear ideas and experiences that the students had while checking out the Eiteljorg for the first time,” Walls says. “And then, by the end of the documentary, which is almost a year later, the Eiteljorg opens an exhibit titled Please Touch! featuring Michael Naranjo’s sculptures, and there’s audio commentary about the sculptures. Guests are invited to touch the artwork and experience it in a very tactile way, which was a big part of the feedback that the students gave when it came to their experience at the Eiteljorg. Seeing that progression was just so incredibly valuable.”
As 12 Stars Media has continued working with IBCF over the years, Walls says he’s really enjoyed getting to know the students and staff at ISBVI.
“Because the relationships are formed over a longer period of time, you just enjoy them more,” Walls says. “It’s just more enjoyable when you spend more time with people, getting to know them and understanding them.”
While getting to know ISBVI students and staff over the years, Walls says he’s also gained new perspective on the vast spectrum of visual impairments that children in Indiana are faced with.
“It’s not just whether or not a person is blind or has a visual impairment — it’s much more complex than that,” Walls says. “A person’s needs, goals and lived experience are widely varied, and that’s why it’s so important to listen, get to know a person and understand each individual. That’s been really valuable to us.”
Currently, 12 Stars Media is in the process of documenting this year’s partnership between the No Limits Leadership Club and Conner Prairie. 12 Stars Media also recently created a digital photo journal recapping the Bright Lights, Big City, Chicago Extravaganza theater trip, which you can check out here.