All Commentary
Monday, August 25, 2014

FEE and MPI Teach Economics Concepts to Aspiring Filmmakers

This spring, FEE partnered with the nonprofit Moving Picture Institute (MPI) to bring 30 talented young filmmakers from around the world to Chapman University in Southern California for the first “Big Ideas on the Big Screen” seminar. The three-day program showed students how economic thinking can make them better filmmakers.

Students participated in a wide variety of activities, including storyboarding original stories based on the concept of “poverty” and reading- based discussions about I, Pencil and Economics in One Lesson.

FEE faculty expanded on core economic concepts and MPI staff and filmmakers gave practical professional advice for ambitious young filmmakers that built on the weekend’s economic themes. 

“[The seminar] was an incredible opportunity, informative, inspirational–so much food for thought,” said participant Sam Martin, an aspiring actor and director. “I’m excited about the liberty community and all of the creative and intelligent minds involved.”

MPI vice presidents Maurice Black and Erin O’Connor gave students vital marketing and distribution advice in their talk, “Building an Audience,” and offered valuable feedback on students’ films. 

MPI program officer Naomi Brockwell discussed the consequences of government intervention in the film industry in her talk, “Messing with Your Films: How Politics Affect Your Films.”  

MPI director of communications and FEE Alumni Board member Lana Harfoush moderated faculty panels and gave crowdfunding advice. Fellow FEE Alumni Board member and actor-director Robert Anthony Peters was also on hand to talk with participants.

MPI filmmakers, including Do As I Say and I,Pencil filmmaker Nick Tucker, gave lectures about story structure, emotional appeal, and how to seamlessly integrate economics and human freedom into documentaries and fictional films. 

Click here to watch Nick Tucker’s I, Pencil short film.

FEE faculty member T.K. Coleman lectured about how economics and the market play an important role in every filmmaker's life with his talks on “The Fine Art of Economic Thinking” and “The Art of Seeing Clearly.” He explained that business and art can work together in his talk “Business versus Art: A False Dichotomy.”

Providing a solid economics base to the program, FEE faculty member Glen Whitman, an economics professor who has written for the Fox series Fringe and the upcoming El Rey series Matador, explored key economic principles including “Spontaneous Order and the Market,” “The Role of Institutions,” and “Public Goods and Public Bads.” Whitman explained what these ideas are and how they are represented and misrepresented in popular media.

Through this unique program, participants honed their economic thinking skills and discovered new ways to create art that successfully tells the stories of how free people shape our world.

The Moving Picture Institute produces and promotes films that make an impact on people's understanding of individual rights, limited government, and free markets, and supports freedom-oriented filmmakers at every phase of their careers.


  • Lana Link, the Moving Picture Institute's vice president of talent development, recruits filmmakers into MPI's grant programs and masterclasses, which she also produces. She also writes and produces original screenplays, such as GRINGA, a short film premiering in 2018. She is a creative producer for Webby-winning online comedy news channel WE THE INTERNET TV and has associate producer credits on documentaries including MAMA RWANDA and INCARCERATING US. She has years of experience mentoring filmmakers in their careers and during all stages of production, including marketing and distribution.