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Oscar nominations are not the goal: Participant Media CEO


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    Jim Berk in his office at Participant Media.

    - Gina Delvac

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    Poster for "Lincoln" in the Participant Media offices.

    - Gina Delvac

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    Inside Participant Media.

    - Gina Delvac

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    - Gina Delvac

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    - Gina Delvac

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    Titles from Participant Media.

    - Gina Delvac

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    From Left: Jim Berk, President Obama, Jeff Skoll. Skoll is the founder of Participant Media and an executive producer of "Lincoln."

    - Gina Delvac

Participant Media says it only makes a certain type of film. Only ones that “invoke social change,” as Participant Media CEO Jim Berk says.

Participant Media made its name creating thought-provoking films like "An Inconvenient Truth," "Fast Food Nation" and "Waiting for Superman." This weekend, Participant Media is part of the production team nominated for an Oscar for "Lincoln," the film starring high-profile actors like Daniel Day-Lewis. Which makes one think: Has the company changed its vision over the years? Jim Berk says no.

“It’s an evolving of the vision. It’s always been about a story well told,” says Berk.

With all this talk about invoking social change and making films with a purpose, it would be hard to deny the fact that winning an Oscar would be nice. Still, Berk says changing the world is much more important than standing on stage at the Academy Awards.

“It’s all about social impact. The wins for us with 'Lincoln' were when you have the Senate and Congress screening it. When you have the president screening. When you have thousands of teachers asking us can we use the film as part of the curriculum. We do like the recognition, but at the end of the day, the company’s existence isn’t for anything but social impact,” says Berk.

But Berk says he’s still excited about "Lincoln" potentially winning an Oscar this weekend, even though he won’t get to stand on stage.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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