Media Institute to focus on social change in film

The School of Cinematic Arts announced the creation of the Media Institute for Social Change, a non-profit organization that will focus on channeling the power and reach of film and television entertainment for positive social change, on Friday.

Michael Taylor, chair of film and television production, will lead the Media Institute of Social Change and said he encourages film students to write, direct and produce films that will advocate for social and political change.

The institute will provide scholarships to students integrating social change into their films, offer advice to professional filmmakers and conduct research on information in films about social change, Taylor said.

Taylor said the timing of the new institute is important because media continues to have a growing impact on society.

“There is an interest now more than ever before in social issues, and as filmmakers we have a huge impact on the culture,” Taylor said. “We have a huge impact so we can use those films for the greater good by incorporating issues of social change into the movies.”

He said he hopes to expand the mission of his class Making Media for Social Change, which he is co-teaching with Emmy Award-winning director Jeremy Kagan, into multiple facets of media.

“There are 14 students that I have in that class, and out of the 14 films that we’re making on various social issues, only one is a documentary, so 13 out of 14 are fictional films, and I think there is a tremendous interest now in doing that,” Taylor said.

The institute will research the effects current television and film have on public opinion and policy, Taylor said.

“The Media Institute for Social Change is rigorously nonpartisan,” Taylor said. “We do not have a political agenda; we are not taking a position on issues.”

The institute will also establish connections between industry professionals to faculty experts at USC to provide facts and guidance on topics, including social human rights and environmental justice.

“I went to a conference last week at the United Nations in New York and people were really very interested in what we were doing here at USC and how we’re using film and television and new media to incorporate social issues into the work that we’re doing on a variety of issues,” Taylor said.