Think tank professionals go to Hollywood


Reason TV producer Alexis Garcia and filmmaker Phelim McAleer (Mine Your Own Business, FrackNation) talk messaging and distribution. "Know your community," says McAleer. "I can't emphasize enough how important it is to collaborate with peer organizations to grow your audience."

Hollywood screenwriters, producers, and media pros welcomed this year's class of Lights, Camera, Liberty! participants — think tanks from all over the world committed to creating and distributing high-impact online video — to Santa Monica, Calif., in December for three days of workshops, training, and networking.

"I am continually looking for the next way to improve how we communicate the message of freedom," said John Kramer, vice president for communications at the Institute for Justice and one of this year's conference participants. He explained, "I'm confident what I took away from the Lights, Camera, Liberty! conference will improve the look, feel, and sound of this message over the next year and for years to come."

As part of the programming, Kramer spent time workshopping his latest ideas with successful industry professionals like Liar, Liar screenwriter Paul Guay who, during opening remarks, invited think tank leaders to seize the moral high ground and to "run the narrative," which he defined as creating powerful stories about the ideas of liberty that energize audiences and reframe the debate. He encouraged participants to be bold about their positions, adding, "Remember, we're the good guys!"

The newest class of Lights, Camera, Liberty, an annual grants and training program designed to elevate and transform think tank communications through online video.

The weekend's events were a repeat visit for Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) video production and marketing coordinator Tim Hedberg, who first attended in 2013. "Walking away from that [first] conference I couldn't help but buck our traditional film making methods," he said. "Of my 35 productions over the last year, I know that most of them were influenced by the training I received at Lights, Camera, Liberty!."

To date, his team's videos have reached 20 million viewers. Hedberg also explained how the conference inspired an evolution in how they green-light new videos by engaging the marketplace of talent through an open-call pitching process. Learn more here.

"This program is about two things," said Matt Warner, Atlas Network's vice president of programs and institute relations. "Connecting think tanks to industry experts who are committed to infusing them with best practices, insights and the kind of know-how they need to conceive, create, and distribute highly effective online video. And, secondly, to bring together the network of think tanks committed to these goals to form relationships, to collaborate and to encourage each other to achieve big things for liberty."

The Lights, Camera, Liberty! program also offers grants to participants for equipment, on-site training in the spring with customized curriculum, and an opportunity to compete in an annual film festival event during Atlas Network's Liberty Forum in New York City. Click here to watch the videos of this year's finalists and grand prize winner. Atlas Network began Lights, Camera, Liberty! in 2010 and expanded the program's reach since then through its partnership with Los Angeles-based Taliesin Nexus, a nonprofit organization founded by Patrick Reasonover and Andrew Leigh, whose industry expertise and leadership make this program one of the smartest bets for think tanks interested in elevating their game in crafting successful online video.