May 2, 2017 Print

The Lights, Camera, Liberty! 2017 participants celebrate a successful conclusion to the three-day workshop.

The 2017 Lights, Camera, Liberty! training program brought together 56 participants to workshop the messaging, marketing, and video storytelling of their respective think tanks. Lights, Camera, Liberty! is one of the signature offerings of Atlas Leadership Academy, Atlas Network’s training and mentoring program. Held in Los Angeles, Calif., April 20–22, 2017, this year’s gathering was the largest-ever since the inception of Lights, Camera, Liberty! in 2010.

“Lights, Camera, Liberty! could not have been more useful or practical from a think tank management standpoint,” said Ames Brown, chairman and executive vice president of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (FREOPP). “Participants from 12 countries came together and learned to identify and remedy many of the most common pitfalls in video production. This curriculum will have a concrete impact on our organization’s visual media and marketing programs going forward.”

Ames Brown (left), with FREOPP, and Richard Lorenc (right) with the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), take a break between messaging sessions.

Atlas Network partners with Taliesin Nexus to present Lights, Camera, Liberty! The training was broken up into two parts. The first provided an overview of strategic marketing essentials, with a focus on product messaging, audience analysis, and segmentation. The second included an inspirational and hands-on session with Hollywood insiders who presented a guide to story development, as well as an overview of industry-leading video production and distribution.

During the marketing essentials session, participants were presented with an exercise in empathy. They were challenged to create a persona, bring it to life, and share that new identity with the cohort. By imagining what it is like to walk in the shoes of another person, participants learned just how crucial it is to understand the core problems, needs, and desires of their target audiences.

Anne Scheiber (right), with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, prepares to deliver her group’s persona during the exercise in empathy.

Anne Scheiber, community engagement manager with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, captivated the audience with her group’s heartfelt portrayal of a small-town father worried about his family’s future because his job was in doubt.

“Messaging and audience analysis is essential to the success of think tanks,” said Daniel Anthony, vice president of marketing and communications for Atlas Network. “This exercise in empathy is one small step toward understanding your audiences and refocusing your think tanks’ priorities toward the problems, needs, and desires of real people.”

Daniel Anthony (standing at left), with Atlas Network, discusses audience engagement strategies with Spence Purnell (standing at right), with the Reason Foundation.

A central part of the Lights, Camera, Liberty! experience is to equip participants with a clear foundation from which to develop a compelling video production.

“Besides being a valued partner in advocating capitalism’s potential to elevate humanity … Atlas Network’s Lights, Camera, Liberty workshop provided us with a solid understanding of how to create the kind of compelling videos that will help us in advancing both the practice and perception of capitalism as a force for good in the world,” said Dan Dement, director of communications at Conscious Capitalism.

Dan Dement (left), with Conscious Capitalism, workshops his logline idea.

At the core of the Lights, Camera, Liberty! process is the development of a logline, which each participant creates during the training.

“A logline is a Hollywood tool that describes the essence of the story,” said Patrick Reasonover, president and co-founder of Taliesin Nexus. “For every storyteller, this tool can serve the invaluable function of keeping you and everyone on your team focused on the key narrative you are trying to tell, which ultimately serves the people you care about most — your audience.”

Patrick Reasonover (back right), with Taliesin Nexus, listens to Dugan Bridges (left), also of Taliesin Nexus.

Dement’s logline captured the spirit of this exercise: “A growing group of socially-conscious businesses are determined to prove what they believe to be an undeniable truth: That capitalism can indeed elevate humanity as the greatest force for good in the world.”

All participants produced compelling loglines for their future productions. Highlights include:

Katerina Dimitrakopoulou, communications advisor for Liberty Forum of Greece: “A school of economics graduate decides to challenge his own philosophy before moving abroad and sets up 10 interviews with prestigious members of academia, hoping to reveal why the country that gave birth to the ideas of liberty, Greece, has become such a hostile place for free people.”

Katerina Dimitrakopoulou, with the Liberty Forum of Greece, works with advanced filmmaking equipment during the video production workshop.

Franco Martín López, director of the research department at Fundación Bases: “A Cuban student exiled in Argentina from poverty and socialism is committed to remove the monuments and honors to the very same people that destroyed his homeland and murdered his compatriots.”

Franco Martín López (right), with Fundación Bases, works on the logline for his video production.

Finally, Mark Cunningham, director of marketing and communications at the Beacon Center of Tennessee: “Tennessee is more than just a piece of land in the southeastern United States. It’s a special place that is great because of the people. Meet the Tennesseans that make the state so special, and watch them overcome major obstacles in their lives.”

Mark Cunningham (center), with the Beacon Center of Tennessee, discusses his logline idea with coaches and fellow participants.

The conclusion of the 2017 Lights, Camera, Liberty! Workshop wasn’t a “goodbye,” but rather a “see you later!” The coming months will see the participants undertake additional intensive onsite practice with Taliesin Nexus. One of the big-picture goals of Lights, Camera, Liberty! is a focus on messaging and storytelling, and most of the participating think tanks will end up fully developing and producing a short film that advances their think tanks’ policy proposals and ideas. These films will ultimately compete in Atlas Network’s annual film festival competition at Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner 2017, which will be held Nov. 7–8, in New York City.

The Atlas Network Lights, Camera, Liberty! 2017 team: Daniel Anthony, Casey Pifer, Vale Sloane, and Cindy Cerquitella.

Check out all the #LightsCameraLiberty17 photos in the Facebook album. Thank you Pavel Rusakov of FEE and Edim Turčinović of Multi for many of the photos in this album.