HBO Film President Len Amato and Slate PR co-founder Simon Halls spoke at Wallis Annenberg Hall on Monday night. At the talk, Amato and Halls discussed the importance of public relations and film when dealing with modern issues in the Hollywood industry.
The discussion was moderated by professor Mary Murphy and was part of her class, “Entertainment, Business and Media in Today’s Society” at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
Amato and Halls talked about their decisions to enter the media industry despite the struggles and successes they experienced.
“I went to junior college because I thought I would be drafted into the Vietnam War,” Amato said. “But I got a high lottery number, so I enrolled in Columbia College and wrote two movies.”
While working, he said he learned that the entertainment industry does not produce movies that cater to everybody. Rather, he said that the industry expands on issues and serves audiences who care about the messages and themes that come across in the movies.
Murphy shared trailers for some of the films Amato oversaw in the past year. One trailer was for Paterno, a film centered on former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and the accusations that he failed to report an assistant coach at the school for engaging in pedophilia.
Amato said that HBO Film received backlash for making the film, but Amato said he believed it was important to cover the issue of sexual assault, especially in light of the #MeToo movement.
At the event, Halls also shared different tips about the workings of the media industry and how journalists can lead technological shifts in media.
“I think Simon Halls’ success and the fact he started the biggest PR company was important,” said Shannon Ward, a junior majoring in public relations who attended the talk. “I also think what was Simon was saying about just getting in the door of the media industry was important.”