2021 Mid Year Report Card Survey Response

Liz Silver
CEO/Executive Producer
Believe Media




What’s the impact of the pandemic on you, your company, your approach to doing business in the future? What practices emerged that you will continue even as restrictions are loosening?

This year has been incredibly difficult because I lost my partner, both in life and in business, Luke Thornton. Beyond my own personal experience something this pandemic has hopefully made us all realize is how fragile life is, the importance of every moment, and how precious we are to each other.

I am fortunate to have a staff and team of directors who have supported me in deep and meaningful ways. It has made our bond as a company tighter and our relationships stronger, showing that our company, Believe Media, is rooted in a deeper collective purpose. This transcended into how we spend our time and prioritize our resources so that we are working on exactly what we want to be doing.

Additionally, we’re not all in the same place any longer so we quickly realized the importance of staying connected. We make a big point to keep our weekly staff meetings over Zoom and to be present, which means the camera stays on. This is a practice and tool we’ll continue to use; it was a technical shift for better communication.

How has the call for equity, racial and social justice affected, honed or influenced your sense of responsibility as a company in terms of the content you create and/or your commitment to opening up opportunities for filmmaking talent from underrepresented backgrounds?

We are taking it upon ourselves to change the trajectory of the content that’s out there. I think one of the most exciting things about having built a diverse roster is supporting the stories fighting to get out of these filmmakers. We’re not just waiting for the boards to come from the agencies, we are providing the resources for our directors to tell the stories important to them, can only come from them, and shed light to unrepresented points of view.

In development, we have Hoj Jomehri’s “Spout” which follows his transition as a child from his native Iran to the United States, and the merging of his Persian and American cultures.

This year we will also premiere a documentary we first started in 2013 called ‘Above Boy’ which is an intimate exploration into the lives of the Chipps family, members of the Oglala Lakota Nation on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Wanblee, South Dakota. Shot over a two-year period, the film spotlights the spiritual teachings of Benjamin Godfrey Chipps, the origins of his medicine man linage the film unearths the raw modern realities of life on the reservation through the eyes of his wife, sons and daughters.

What’s the biggest takeaway or lessons learned from work (please identify the project) you were involved in that was or is in the running for current awards season consideration (i.e., Emmys, Cannes Lions, etc.)?

“Gucci Aria” directed by Floria Sigismondi and Alessandro Michele. This was the second job we shot on a completely virtual set and utilizing this new technology was really a gamechanger in the way we think about locations, art direction, visual effects, time and how resources are used for production.

While gazing into the crystal ball is a tricky proposition, we nonetheless ask you for any forecast you have relative to content creation and/or the creative and/or business climate for the second half of 2021 and beyond.

I believe there is going to be a creative renaissance that will impact how we do business. Historically, the most groundbreaking work is born out of tragedy – across art, music, and literature because it makes you look at things differently. The pandemic throttled everyone into creative problem-solving and there’s been so much more uninterrupted time for artists to chart into mediums they hadn’t explored – creating their own channels, developing original content, hosting podcasts, designing products. The voice of the creative finds its way out and I think we’ll see the fruits of that across new forms of content outside of traditional advertising.

What are your goals, creatively speaking and/or from a business standpoint, for your company, division, studio or network in 2021?

To see our new signings and new talent working. It’s easy to see the superstars get the boards and the work; we hope to see the new talent get those opportunities as well. Also, we would love to see our projects that are in development realized. We feel fortunate that many of those projects are taking off now.

What trends, developments or issues would you point to thus far in 2021 as being most significant, perhaps carrying implications for the rest of the year and beyond?

We are having to be so nimble. We consistently have to ask these questions: How do we make this work with COVID? How does this positively move us towards equity? Is this climate conscious? We have to perceive with all our senses open, be aware of everything around us – it’s not just making a commercial, these can be life and death situations. These can be transformative opportunities for underrepresented groups. What we’ve learned is small decisions can have great consequence or can have big results, so each decision should be seen as significant.

What work (advertising, entertainment)--your own or others--struck a responsive chord with you and/or was the most effective creatively and/or strategically so far this year? Does any work stand out to you in terms of meshing advertising and entertainment?

“Unapologetically Asian” for Apple Music by Amber Park. Amber shot this film before we signed her, but this was one of those films that hopefully makes you stand in someone else’s shoes. The film captures the pressures and experiences that impact APAC community youth and carry into adulthood. With notes to the music, food, and identity, by the end you see it’s all really meant to be celebrated from the beginning.

Rémy-Martin “Team Up for Excellence” featuring Usher and directed by Jake Nava took historical fact we haven’t even seen on the screen and creatively wove it into a storyline for the consumer. Capturing history and the brand’s relationship with music – jazz, blues and hip hop, the spot reveled heritage more than divisive society and the cultural significance of a brand across time.

Jose Cuervo Tradicional and 1800 brand campaign directed by Jeff Darling. Rather than cast actors, Jeff’s crew spent a month in Tequila, Mexico embedded in the process of making tequila and lived in the town to understand what it was to be a part of the heritage. The result is a beautifully rich portrait of ten generations of farmers and an immersive experience of the artisanal process.

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