Building Opportunity: Vital & Chris


Strike Anywhere, an independent film company, worked with Udemy, a company dedicated to improving lives through learning, to develop and execute two short-docu series-style films to capture the instructor-learner dynamic. Highlighting the platform’s ability to create change through skills development and learning, the first film from Strike Anywhere director Akil Gibbons tells the story of Udemy instructor Chris Haroun and learner-turned-instructor Vital Nsengiyumva. It is titled “Building Opportunity: Vital & Chris,” and was shot in Magu, Rwanda.

A handpicked team from Strike Anywhere partnered with the Udemy team to develop the story and then worked with director Akil Gibbons to translate this into a compelling asset that highlights how Udemy is democratizing access to learning and skills. This holistic agency and in-house approach, brief to script to screen, allowed Udemy to stick to its timeline and shoot globally for maximum brand impact. Known for his impactful, award-winning storytelling for past projects with Mastercard, AT&T, and Vice, Akil brought a unique filmmaking perspective to the Building Opportunity film.

For “Building Opportunity: Vital & Chris,” a core team from Strike Anywhere traveled to Rwanda to join Udemy instructor Chris Haroun and learner-turned-instructor Vital Nsengiyumva, who grew up in the village of Magu. Chris and Strike’s filmmakers were invited to Vital’s mother’s house for a home-cooked meal, breaking language barriers by sharing experiences and ending with a ribbon cutting to officially open a first-of-its-kind learning center in Magu built by Vital and Chris. During the grand opening, Vital and Chris taught an inaugural class, sharing their knowledge with learners from the village.

The touching film is shot in documentary style and addresses the issues in Magu that have barred others in Vital’s village from pursuing education, including the Rwandan genocide in the 1990s. Vital’s journey, which makes mention of his master’s degree in engineering and his aspirations of giving back to his village, parallels that of Chris, who quit his job in venture capital in the Bay Area to pursue his dream of teaching full-time. Following their first meeting, Vital became an instructor on Udemy himself, with the proceeds of his course directly contributing to the building of their school in Magu.

“This experience meant a lot to me as an African-American filmmaker, as it was my first time visiting the continent of Africa,” says director Akil Gibbons, speaking of the Udemy project. “What I brought to the project as a filmmaker, I believe, was the same passion for education, opportunity, and power to change lives as the Udemy learners and instructors putting those words to action by providing those gateways to educational opportunities in Rwanda.”

“Access to skills and learning is a fundamental human right that promotes equality, social mobility, and economic development,” says Alex Ambrose, Senior Global Creative Director at Udemy. “We’re excited to showcase the amazing work Vital and Chris have done to transform lives in Rwanda. Strike Anywhere shares our commitment to continue bringing impactful instructor-learner stories to life.”

Ryan Simon, Executive Creative Director of Strike Anywhere, adds, “It’s hard to believe we’re only a few months into working with Udemy. The mutual creative trust and desire to raise the bar with impactful visual stories is where Strike Anywhere thrives. We were honored that Udemy trusted us with bringing this story to life, and we congruently believe in its importance. Seeing as this was the first time the teacher-student dynamic was present in Vital’s village in Magu and adding in the fact that this school is built by someone who grew up in the community is extremely powerful. We’re proud to tell these stories.”

Strike Anywhere started as an independent film company, making narrative and documentary features that ignite emotion in audiences worldwide. Ten years later, we’re a diverse creative studio with a production arm made up of filmmakers, thinkers, and producers. Our directors are accomplished visual storytellers who garner praise and audience intrigue for their work in comedy, narrative, and documentary. Strike Anywhere talent works on campaigns for influential brands, including Meta, US Army, Linkedin, Miller, Square, EOS, Tubi, and Mountain Dew. Film and television distributors include Disney+, ESPN, HBO, Netflix, and Sundance Channel.

This professional campaign titled 'Building Opportunity: Vital & Chris' was published in Rwanda and United States in October, 2023. It was created for the brand: Udemy, . This Digital and Film media campaign is related to the Education industry and contains 1 media asset. It was submitted 6 months ago.


Executive Creative Director: Ryan Simon
Director: Akil Gibbons
Producer: Jon Gaynes
Director of Photography: Xavi Portillo
Editor (Rwanda): Ian Alexander Levine
Editor (Toronto): Peter Leininger


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