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The Business of Impact: Producing Human Rights Entertainment

Jewelry store brigades. 800-numbers. Thinking like a teenage girl. Apocalypses Now (and then). Learn about the successful PR campaigns behind Blood DiamondThirteenThe Promise and more in panel 2 of Lights. Camera. Reaction.

April 10, 2018  |  by Creative Armenia

Lights. Camera. Reaction. was a groundbreaking summit on human rights entertainment that took place at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles on March 16. Co-hosted by Creative Armenia, The Promise Institute, and UCLA’s Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment, the event combined some of the world’s most accomplished directors, producers, and legal minds. The evening culminated with the first Promise Institute Award for Contributions to Human Rights through the Arts, which was received by actress Mira Sorvino.

Marketing, distribution, and outcome measurement were the themes of the summit’s second panel, The Business of Impact. Panelists spoke in depth about the PR strategies and impact campaigns that were employed for such films as Blood Diamond, The Promise, The Hunting Ground, and Thirteen. The panel featured director Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen, Red Riding Hood), veteran producer Michael Medavoy (Phoenix Pictures), producer and human rights activist Dr. Eric Esrailian (The Promise), Gabriel Brakin (General Counsel and EVP, Business Affairs at Participant Media), and social impact campaign strategist Bonnie Abaunza (Abaunza Entertainment). The panel was curated by the Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television, and moderated by its executive director, Peter Bisanz.

Below are some highlights followed by the full video of the panel.

Gabriel Brakin on the mission of Participant Media as a social impact producer:

Michael Medavoy on the difference between an immediate hit and one that took a while:

Bonnie Abaunza on the successful grassroots impact PR campaign for the film Blood Diamond:

Catherine Hardwicke on how the very specific story of her film Thirteen had universal impact:

Eric Esrailian on how The Promise fulfilled the mission of Kirk Kerkorian:

 Watch the full discussion here: