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Producer, Activist Talks with Students

Robert Greenwald

Photo courtesy of robertgreenwald.org

Producer and political activist Robert Greenwald stopped by an Advanced Documentary class at AU’s School of Communication recently to field questions from students on their own film projects. And who better to ask? 

Greenwald’s company, Brave New Films, has produced short documentaries that have been viewed 45 million times in the past two years.  It was Greenwald’s short film, McCain’s Mansions,  that prompted a question about the number of his homes that Republican Presidential candidate John McCain fumbled during last year’s political campaign. And it was Brave New Films that created The High Cost of Low Price, a film about Wal-Mart’s business practices that a New York Times reviewer said “makes its case with breathtaking force.” 

But Greenwald wasn’t here to talk about his accomplishments. He wanted to know what kinds of roadblocks the students in Prof. Larry Engel’s class had encountered. One student asked who the target audience would be for his film on lawnmower racing; another wondered about the focus of her story on three elderly sisters in declining health. “Try everything,” he said, urging the young filmmaking to take chances and develop the story through a number of angles. “The film will show you what it is if you let it.” 

The director talked to the students about the “enormous satisfaction” he received by making films that change people’s minds. His best advice for filmmakers, “Go for the heart and the mind will follow.”