Listen to Robert Greenwald interviewed by Gabriel Gutiérrez on KPFK (mp3).
Brave New Films’ Robert Greenwald joins us. As Congress breaks for recess and the health insurance industry prepares to blitz the American public with attack ads on health care reform, Brave New Films kicks off its new “Sick for Profit” online campaign at http://sickforprofit.com. The first video contrasts the lavish lifestyle and extravagant earnings of United Health Group’s (UHG) CEO with their policyholders, who suffer from severe medical conditions but have been denied proper medical care. According to Forbes magazine, United Health Group CEO Stephen Hemsley owns three-quarters of a billion dollars in UHG stock options, and his 2008 compensation was a whopping $3,241,042.00.
Robert Greenwald is a successful director in television and film with many nominations and awards under his belt. Around five years ago, he turned to political documentaries with his exposé on Fox News called Outfoxed; Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism. That was only the beginning. Since Outfoxed, Greenwald and his team have made hundreds of short videos, as well as full-length films, that have reached millions of viewers worldwide.
Welcome to OpEdNews, Robert. In recent years, you’ve channeled your success in television and film into filmmaking with a more pointed political agenda. What was the impetus for this change?
I fell in love with documentaries as an art form and as an avenue for creating change. It became a natural path for me to focus on creating documentaries with a more political agenda, so I could have an active hand in effecting this change and helping to inform people.
How did you come up with the revolutionary idea of combining short films and the internet?
The internet is a great tool for democracy, with people spreading information and ideas to their peers quickly and easily. Putting short films on the internet is relatively inexpensive and viewers can watch it for free. Also, people have short attention spans when it comes to the internet, so making short films that were concise, engaging, and accessible seemed like a likely next step for us.
How much has Brave New Films grown since its inception?
It’s grown by leaps and bounds. We started with a small company of three people, and we’ve since developed into a fully staffed, mid-sized non-profit.
Where do you get your funding? What organizations do you work with to promote your progressive agenda? (Would you agree that it’s a progressive agenda?)
A good question! We get a lot of our funding through our “Producers Program.” We have a very large list of folks who sign up on an email list to receive updates, and they help fund a lot of our projects through small direct online contributions. We also work with different organizations, depending on the specific issue we’re tackling. Additionally, we do a lot of work with foundations. Funding is always a challenge and we spend lots of time working to fund raise for our work.
You’ve done hundreds of short films on a range of topics. Many of them fall within a few categories: corporate greed in all its guises, inappropriate political candidates, incumbents, or appointees, victims of public policy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now health care legislation. How do you decide on a subject?
We draw from many sources. First, our great staff, which is very much committed to issues of social justice, and contribute an endless amount of great ideas for important subjects to cover. Second, we draw from the issues currently being debated by the public and in Congress, issues that affect millions of people (like our current discussion on health care reform).
Finally, we are always focused on what is not being discussed, what is not being exposed. In regards to healthcare, we wanted to show the CEO profits specifically because it was not being talked about. This was the same goal we had with Fox News when we started, as well as McCain’s mansions.
In Sick for Profit, your latest initiative, you have teamed up withThe American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and Herndon Alliance. Who are they and what do they want?
By Arthur Delaney at Huffington Post
A new video puts denied health insurance claims on United Health Care CEO Stephen Hemsley’s doorstep.
The video, made by Brave News Films’ Robert Greenwald, intercuts stories of people suffering because of denied claims with images Hemsley’s fancy homes, along with details about how much money Hemsley’s got ($744,232,068 in unexercised stock options, for example).
Holly Bailey says in the video that United Health Care refused to pay for medicine she couldn’t live without.
“They kept telling my local pharmacy…’Oh we’re just waiting for one more letter, or we’re just waiting for one more script, and then we’ll start paying,’” Bailey said. “This went on for six months, and December 4th both the pharmacy and I received a letter from United Health Care saying they deemed it medically unnecessary and that they were not going to pay any of it.