Students Shine a Light where Politicians Have Cowered

"When your children act like leaders and your leaders act like children, you know change is coming.” 

So Tweeted Mikel F. Jollett

” We’ve had enough. We are the generation that was born after Columbine. We have lived with is our entire lives and now it happened at my school. I spent two hours in a closet just hiding and I am done hiding. We're done hiding. America has done hiding.” 

Matt Dietsch, survivor of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting

At its best, media informs, educates and engages. In this case, some of the coverage of the students speaking out in the aftermath of the shooting has shown the media at its best.

Students from Stoneman Douglas High School have sounded the alarm and brought the gun control debate to the forefront days after they survived a mass shooting on campus on Feb. 14.

The suspect, a former student, entered the school with a legally purchased AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and killed 17 people.

Over the last few days, we've seen the power of voices raised as one. The students of Stoneman Douglas and the other students around the nation who have joined with them have been able to bring an issue to light to shine a light on it that no other group has before.

Gun violence in America is an issue that has been one where empty rhetoric has replaced action as countless innocent victims have been senselessly gunned down. On one side of the aisle, politicians afraid of alienating their base, afraid of losing votes and afraid of losing funding, have chosen their political careers over lost lives. On the other side, those who thought this was a losing issue and one not worth the battle, have backed down.

But all that is changing, students whose lives have been affected have raised the alarm and as they persevere, they are making a difference. Dubbed the "Never Again" movement, the teenage activists are utilizing the traditional media, being interviewed on television, radio, newspapers, and magazines.  They are also mobilizing on social media, organizing school walkouts, and planning a nationwide protest for March 24.  They are sending a message and those who turned deaf ears to so many in the past are being forced to listen.

#BoycottNRA hashtag has taken on a life of it’s on and it is making a difference.  A partial list of companies who have cut ties with the NRA include:

Whether this new movement will continue to have an impact, or whether the political powers that be will be able to shut it down as they have other attempts to raise the alarm, still needs to be seen. Regardless, these students have changed the landscape forever. They have raised their voices, have been heard and they now understand that they can impact society as a whole. The fact that it took this many deaths and children raising their voices to be heard is a sad commentary on where we are as a nation.

And now it is up to the rest of us. America now needs to stand with its children and the media needs fulfill its obligation by keeping a spotlight on the issue and not letting it die or become simply another news cycle that passes and is forgotten.

Why PR is Crucial for Your Film

Technology and the digital world have caused huge changes to what was once considered business-as-usual in the entertainment world. While the last decade has seen the music and publishing arenas changed forever, the world of film production, distribution, and marketing is also in a state of flux. There are new approaches to production, distribution, and marketing that were previously unheard of. Technology has also made it possible for full-length films to be created on minimal budgets, and there are a myriad of new distribution channels available.

Still, one question remains. What comes after you've produced your film? How is it possible to establish yourself in the industry, secure distribution, or reach your target market?

Social media is one very important piece of the puzzle. However, to get the attention that's needed to move forward, an effective and well-targeted PR campaign is your best approach. A traditional media campaign is critical.

Why is PR crucial when launching a feature film?


PR is the only form of marketing that offers you (as well as your film) the validation and credibility of being featured in newspapers, magazines, TV, and radio in online media outlets. Being featured in the media creates an undeniable buzz, building a brand for you and your movie. Being able to land that type of press coverage puts you a cut above the competition. And finally, it puts your film on the map, and shows that you can be a key player in the marketplace. Once you've put these elements into place, you can start to broaden the scope of your own marketing outreach.

When pitching the media, keep in mind that the stories and pitches that interest you aren’t necessarily those that will interest the media. Take time to study the media outlets you’re approaching. What type of stories and angles do they focus on? Let those be your guide.

Remember, you don’t want to simply focus on reviews for your film. Rather, what you need is a mix of interviews, features and reviews about you and your film. Brainstorm, come up with some creative, unique media pitches and hooks about you, your film, the cast, the story, etc. Once you’ve secured some press, you can utilize your media coverage in your social media outreach. That allows you to amplify the media you’ve secured.

A campaign that blends traditional and social media is going to be the most effective. But to start, you need to land some media coverage.

Our motto is effective PR is effective storytelling.

So, what are your stories?


A Voice with Legs: Laura Carruthers Translates Dance into Film

Laura Carruthers is a six-time national champion and world-ranked Scottish Highland dancer, a former member of the Ballet Arizona, and an award-winning filmmaker whose portrayals of dance on screen welcome mainstream audiences to its intricacies. Her latest film, Grace Fury, is an autobiographical exploration into the joy of creating art that has just been nominated for multiple awards at the Glendale International Film Festival, the San Francisco International New Concept Film Festival, the LA Underground Film Forum, and the World Music and Independent Film Festival. Fascinated by the journey that would take a young Los Angeles native from Celtic dance enthusiast to successful filmmaker, I chatted with Laura about what it’s taken her to get here, the inspirations and challenges that she found along the way, and the sense that “bonding with art isn’t always immediate escapism.”

Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA--Burbank, to be exact--Laura spent childhood summers watching her father compete in traditional Scottish sport, a subculture she describes as larger than life. “Not your traditional vacation,” Laura noted laughing, but one that quickly inspired her to enroll in Scottish Highland dancing herself. And she was good at it--really good: she went on to win six national championships. Things took a turn when Laura enrolled at Arizona State University to study history, but there she kept her passion for dance alive by studying ballet under former Kirov principal Zenia Chlistowa, and following graduation she was accepted into the prestigious Ballet Arizona by Director Michael Uthoff.

At this point during our conversation, we paused a moment for me to ask the question that she says nearly everyone who’s not in her worlds asks: what exactly is Scottish Highland dancing, and is it anything like ballet? The answer: Scottish Highland dancing is very aerobic and demanding, requiring a simultaneous precision and buoyancy that results in what Laura describes as a “state of perpetual spring” (which as you might expect, is “very horrible on your legs”). Far from the synchronized pounding of its more mainstream Celtic sibling made popular with Riverdance, Highland dancing is relentless but never heavy. Ballet in turn depends on the same level of precision, but is, perhaps surprisingly so, less rigid than Highland dancing--a flexibility that Laura found very liberating and appealing.

Of course, one must acknowledge that Laura is blessed with preternatural energy and grace--born to a mathematician mother and a father who loved Scottish sport but not dance, Laura is the first of her family to become a dancer. And yet nearly everyone who has crossed her path can’t help but notice a natural exuberance and magnetism that translate across Celtic, classical, and contemporary techniques.

So, Laura made it to ASU where she discovered that the Scottish subculture of her Californian youth was minimal at best. She found herself living almost a double life: the side focused on that subculture, and the side in which her peers had zero connection to it or understanding about it; as Laura describes the dichotomy, “you’re either in it, or you don’t know much about it.” Despite pressure from her father to focus on academics and graduate, Laura discovered that ballet was a way to bridge the gap between Highland dancing and the mainstream professional dance world--and perhaps even a way to turn the dance realm into a long-term career.

Laura started introducing her fellow ballet dancers to the “strange little technique” of Highland dancing, and as a burgeoning choreographer she blended the Celtic with the classical. People took notice, and it was at this point that she started her transformation into the “voice with legs.”

Fast forward to today: Laura is still dancing, but is now also a successful filmmaker and a self-described sociopolitical activist. Her overarching artistic philosophy is intrinsically bound to her unshakeable insistence that art have a place in today’s increasingly money-focused and conformist culture: “I fear that in some ways we’re losing the innocence of just being artistic, allowing for a degree of freedom and room to do just what you need to do and say what you need to say...I feel like art, like science, is a space where we should be pioneering, and in many cases you don’t even know what contributions you might make--a way that might not seem huge in the moment but might influence people down the road. Even if it’s not entirely practical or doesn’t have a huge payoff, in some cases that’s the real stuff, the parts of the variation in our species that goes missing because we follow the same lines too often.”

It is impossible not to be inspired by the conviction with which Laura shares that vision for a world in which creativity continues not simply to exist but to thrive, and it makes it easy to understand why her latest film Grace Fury is picking up nominations across the festival circuit.

An autobiographical foray into Laura’s life and the necessity of artistic creation, Grace Fury combines her obvious long-time love of film (Kubrick and Coppola are some of her biggest influences) with a lifetime’s understanding of dance and self that’s challenged only by the technical innovation that five Panasonic VariCams offer insofar as true viewer immersion. The film is a beautifully intimate experience with a degree of “poetic mystery” that is all too often hard to capture, but it also speaks to the greater human experience. Laura notes, “I hope that some of the points I’m making, the questions I’m asking, are bigger and more core; I’m saying this little microexperience, this one person’s tiny shot at life that I have, that maybe there are some things I’m saying that might resonate with other people, that might speak to human nature.”

Grace Fury originally started as a festival opportunity offered to her by a couple producers in New York; when the larger project died, Laura decided to keep going with the film, realizing that maybe it was time to say what she really meant. If that’s not a metaphor for Laura’s entire drive in life, I don’t know what is. I asked Laura what she looks to get out of this film and the work she does now.

“I just hope the whole thing inspires people to do their own thing as well. To maybe be on the lookout for different kinds of artists who aren’t always in your view all the time. It’s important to inspire people in whatever capacity you have to make art. We should all have the experience of making art, and never resign ourselves to just being spectators or saying we can’t. It’s part of the human experience.”

 Check out Laura's work and upcoming film Grace Fury at

Podcasting, Fandom, and Media Specialization

Media placement is one of the core tenets of public relations, if not the main goal: we build clients into Brands through their exposure across a variety of outlets until they hit the threshold of public interest and become relevant (and then the real PR fun begins).

The endless evolution of media is one of the ever-changing trends that we have to be very aware of in PR; particularly since the 2000s, news and pop culture consumption has changed radically (and continues to). For example, the last five years have seen an abundance of articles bemoaning the “death of journalism” in the face of social media ubiquity and a pervasive click-bait-as-business mentality. Leading national newspapers continue to increase print subscription fees as consumers turn to the Internet, and even that online presence is constantly challenged by the instant accessibility of in-your-face Facebook algorithms that bring the news to you via right rails and friends.

In that same vein, we no longer turn to radio as much as we used to in booking exposure for clients. Radio shows used to be a default go-to, but as with the rest of media consumerism in 2017, the variety show model has largely been eclipsed by outlets that are tailored to specific interests and which are easy to digest on the go with a smartphone.

Enter the Podcast. A portmanteau of “pod” (iPod) and “broadcast” coined in 2004 by BBC journalist Ben Hammersley, podcasts snuck into the scene and enjoyed moderate interest among key early adopters until an explosion in the 2010s that cemented them as a popular medium, challenging traditional radio business practices. Of course broadcast radio is still prevalent: it’s an easy habit to flip on FM while driving to work in the a.m., and if we're talking local traffic, national news, and current hits, you're set.

But, so many of our clients—especially our authors and filmmakers who are just starting to take off—don’t have stories that fit immediately into that general news mold. Podcasts offer an hyper-accessible channel with the advantage of highly particular subject matter, if so desired. The host-guest(s) conversational structure that features in so many podcasts also means authentic connection and the chance to build lasting and mutually beneficial professional relationships. Plus, podcast audiences are already primed to be interested in show guests.

Why is that so important if the audience is just a niche community? Because if we can successfully identify appropriate channels, we win guaranteed exposure for clients in communities that will champion them, and amplify their presence enthusiastically and organically. In eternal HBO hit Sex and the City, leading lady Samantha Jones is a PR pro who pushes her then boyfriend Jerry “Smith” Jerrod to commercial success as an actor, gleefully noting of his confusion at the path his burgeoning career is taking, “First come the gays, then the girls!” Sure enough, his career takes off right on schedule.

Now we’re not that particular market here, nor would we perhaps be quite so flippant, but the wisdom holds: in this new age of Comic-Con as a media mogul instead of just a nerd haven, and Harry Styles as a critically acclaimed musical talent beyond a pre-teen dream*, we embrace and rely on fandom more than ever.

In 2017, fandom is not frivolous, it’s what comes first.

What we’re saying: if you’re an author or a filmmaker, don’t shy away from appealing to niche audiences, or starting off with exposure in smaller, more specific outlets (and if you’re working with your PR team, trust us, there’s a plan). Podcasts in particular are your friend! Find the communities that love what you’re doing and want to champion you, so that when it comes time to pitch yourself to bigger fish, those mainstream outlets will care because a quick Google search will show that everyone else already does.
*If you're dubious about One Direction's main man, check out NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour or Panoply's Switched on Pop for more on Mr. Styles...speaking of podcasts.

Interview with the Vampire...Book Author

When author Thomas Hewlett and I began working together, one of the first things he told me was that he took his first drink at age seventeen and promptly blacked out for thirteen years, coming out of a haze at rock bottom with the early idea for a novel—the one that would kick-start his career—scrawled across a mess of notes.

He had my attention. But it wasn’t the shock factor of that surprising opening that kept me, it was the next part: writing saved his life. Writing not only gave Thomas a career, it gave him an outlet into which to pour his struggles and triumphs, and a purpose in helping others who might be facing similar challenges he did. His personal journey is as remarkable as his Twelve Stakes series.

He and I sat down to talk about both.

On your site you state that you took your first drink when you were seventeen, blacked out and woke up thirteen years later, with little to show for your life besides a notebook full of unwritten books. Did those unwritten book help point you to your current path?

Twelve Stakes - Corrected - High Resolution - Book 1Looking back over that trail of unfinished books—and I use “books” loosely, because they’re mostly piles of disjointed paragraphs and hastily scrawled character sketches—I see an active imagination and a lot of scattered potential. But all that writing kept me anchored in the dream-reality that stories come from. It was a way to keep the fires of my creativity burning when the drink and the drugs threatened to snuff it out completely.

And oddly enough, those scribblings were leading me somewhere, though I didn’t know it at the time. The book ideas and the characters in search of stories got more fantastical the further I went, and it kept my mind limber. Those notebooks were laying the foundation for what came later. The vampires, the magic, the darkness. It’s all there in embryo form.

I’ve heard authors say that writing has saved their life. In your case, that seems to be quite literally true. Tell me a bit about that journey.

Not to sound mythic, but it was a journey to Hell and back. I started losing the plot of my life when getting drunk and high became more important than anything else. The jobs I worked got more menial, the apartments I lived in got smaller and shabbier, everything in my life got small and bleak. I kept scribbling ideas for stories here and there as a kind of lifeline (my wife read one my journals from that period and said, “Well at least your writing was improving…”). When I finally had a breakdown and ended up in the mental hospital on suicide watch, stories were the thing that I held on to. I watched and listened to every crazy person I saw in there. I went from the hospital to rehab and that’s where I started writing again. I learned in rehab that we’re all here to pursue a passion or a dream and nothing is stopping any of us from doing that except a decision. A decision to choose ourselves. I decided I was finally going to write a book, no matter what. It became a central part of my recovery, a reason to get clean and stay clean. Finishing a book became a reason to choose my life. Working on that first draft was a struggle but it helped me stay focused on getting better and getting my life together.

What was the genesis for your Twelve Stakes series?

When I was newly sober, I had dinner with a friend of mine one night, a writer named Khanh Ho. He and I were joking about different ways to write about my time in the nuthouse and were spitballing story ideas. Khanh kept suggesting wilder and wilder ideas, like heroin-addicted angels in rehab, and he finally said, “You should write about vampires in A.A.!” I immediately latched onto the idea, knowing instinctively there was a kickass story in there somewhere. Sure enough, when I started unpacking it, the story, the world, and all the characters spilled out almost fully written. The idea of monsters as addicts and blood as addictive as booze seemed perfectly made to tell a noir-style detective story, which is exactly what I was looking for.

Do you think writing was always in the cards for you?

I don’t like to romanticize writing but in this case I do think I couldn’t have been anything other than a writer. It’s what I love and it’s how I look at the world. I see stories and see characters everywhere I go. And the writer’s life has appealed to me since I was a kid. The freedom to let my imagination run wild really put a hook in me. It’s why I when I was young, I rewrote the endings of books I read when I didn’t like the final scene or how the characters ended up.

Some writers plot and outline their book, others jump in and see where their writing lead them. How would you describe your writing process?

I outline for practical purposes, because it makes the writing process faster and smoother. But I keep my outlines vague so I can leave room for surprises. The outline is a map to a place I’ve never been before. So if I make it too rigid, it cuts me off from discovering new plot points or character motivations along the way. And at some point, I have to be willing to let the outline go altogether. No outline survives contact with the story without changing. So I start with a basic thread of the storyline to get it shaped into a rough three-act structure and I give myself a page count to hit every day. After that, it’s just faith. I trust that if I show up and start writing every day, the characters will show up too and show me the way to the final scene.

How important is reading to you as a writer?

All the reading I did before I started writing was extremely important. It gave me a solid education in how stories work. How do you build tension and suspense? How do you show emotion and pain? What makes a reader keep turning pages, desperate to find out what happens next? Reading as much as possible is important because at some point, all of it sinks into your subconscious like groundwater and that’s where your personal stories spring from. I don’t have as much time to read for fun when I’m writing, so when I do I try to read non-fiction so I can absorb more data that might inspire and influence future stories.

Who are some of the writers you feel have most influenced you?

At the top of the list are the mystery and fantasy writers that have melded into my style. Writers like Raymond Chandler, Anne Rice, Michael Connelly, NK Jemisin, Richard Kadrey, Nalo Hopkinson, Charlie Huston have been my guides and inspiration…and are now my competition.
What would you like readers to take away from your writings?

Most of all I want them to strap in and enjoy the ride. I want them to get lost in the world of Twelve Stakes and get so close to the characters they shout and cry along with them. I want my readers to wonder what kind of monster they’d be in my world—are they Werewolves, Vamps, Fae or Witches? The same way people sort themselves into Hogwarts houses. (That’s right, I just compared my books to Harry Potter!) But most of all, I want my readers to see hope in all the darkness and be inspired to keep fighting, addicts or not.

Twelve Stakes is a book series, but are you also thinking beyond books as a way to express your work?

IMG_9307 (1)Yes, I’m going to take Twelve Stakes across a bunch of different platforms. Jack Strayhorn, my Vampire detective character, hints in book one about the 60 or so years he traveled around solving supernatural cases. I’m turning those into a series of graphic novels. I’m also adapting the main series story into a television pilot. Netflix and Amazon are doing some amazing storytelling right now, dark and sexy stuff. My Vamps and Weres will fit right in. On the far horizon is an immersive video game set in the world of Twelves Stakes, especially if virtual reality tech catches up to my imagination.

Having gone through the process a few times now, what advice would you give to writers who are just starting their journey?

The two things I would pass along are commitment and permission. You have to commit to sitting down every day and banging out pages, no matter. Don’t feel inspired? Don’t feel like writing? Too bad. Suck it up and get to work. But while you’re writing every day, give yourself permission to suck at it. Give yourself permission to write a shitty first draft, have days where you hate every sentence you put down, and want to throw the book out the window. Those feelings will pass—as long as you keep showing up every day to write.

Check out the Twelve Stakes series at, and pick up Book 1 at The Last Bookstore today. Book 3, "A Devil of Your Own," comes out on August 1.

PR for Filmmakers Workshop, part of the AOF Film Festival

pr for filmmakers

Calling all Filmmakers: 

On August 26th I and my associate, Verena King @VerenaKingPR (who will be focusing on social media), will be giving a PR for Filmmakers Workshop, a part of the AOF Film Festival. 

Is this important?

It is if you’re a filmmaker.


Because, you want your film to succeed.

What makes or breaks most films?

It’s the buzz, the anticipation, the excitement.

And nothing can create that buzz more effectively than the media.

An effective PR campaign (or lack of one) can make or break your film

Being featured in the media, gives you the validation and credibility of being newsworthy.

If you work it right, media begets more media and the snowball effect begins to kick in.

When should you launch a PR campaign?

All together...


aof festDon’t make the mistake of starting your PR campaign once you’ve finished your film, or after you’ve submitted and been accepted by a festival.

You need to start planning your PR strategy on day one.

You need to make the public relations cost as basic a budget item as the cost of your camera or lighting, or any of the other essentials.

So, have you or your film been covered in the media?

If not, why not?

And if your answer is yes, have you utilized your media coverage for maximum effect?

Do you have a comprehensive PR gameplan?

Does your gameplan include the following?

These are just a few of the topics we’ll be covering at this essential nuts and bolts PR workshop.

PR for Filmmakers is a unique workshop designed specifically for producers, directors and filmmakers.  Focusing on how to effectively promote and market your films, the workshop will cover a number of topics including how to develop stories and pitch ideas, how to write a press release, how to build a media list, how to effectively pitch the media, the difference between the trades and mainstream media pitches, and how to meld your traditional media and social media outreach.

The workshop is designed to help filmmakers build their brand and create a buzz via the media to reach their audience, influencers, investors, distributors and other appropriate opportunities.   At the end of the workshop, filmmakers who wish to participate will be allowed to give a 30-second pitch.  If your pitch is chosen as the most effective (a subjective call by Anthony), you will win a free 90 minute consultation with Anthony Mora, along with a press release, pitch and targeted media list.

The PR for Filmmakers Workshop will be held in Monrovia at the Krikorian Premier Theaters in the filmmaker It runs 11:00 Am -1:00 PM.  The Workshop is free for AOF 2014 Accepted Filmmakers and Writers. There is a $25.00 charge for all others.

Copyright © Mora Communications 2014

The PR & Distribution Connection for Indie Films

film distribution & prThere are two primary areas where most independent films run into roadblocks, the first is marketing/PR and the second is distribution.  That has pretty much always been the case, but now, with the film industry in such flux and more competitive than ever, it’s becoming even more of a challenge. Marketing, public relations and media exposure do not only create a buzz and help establish your brand, but these strategies can also solidify distribution interest, and interest film festivals.  Distribution gives your film a way to reach your audience

At Anthony Mora Communications, Inc. we’ve been promoting major and independent feature films and documentaries for years.  Having worked as a screenwriter and indie film producer, I know the hazards and pitfalls of getting a film from concept to the market. With that in mind, we’ve developed a unique PR and distribution outreach designed to publicize and market films  as well as secure distribution.

Our firm specializes in media placement, media training and image development.  We have placed clients in a wide range of local, national and international media venues including:  Time, Newsweek, The Today Show, 60 Minutes, CBS This Morning, CBS Evening News, People, US, Entertainment Tonight, Premiere, Fox News, USA Today, CNN, MSNBC, 20/20, Oprah, The London Times, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and various other media outlets.

Making a film can be a magical experience, but many filmmakers get so immersed in the making of their film that they forget about focusing on the next steps, specifically marketing and securing distribution.  Too many filmmakers forget to ask themselves what they are going to do once their film is completed. How are they going to get their film, promoted, marketed, and distributed?  What is their gameplan for building that bridge between the finished product and the audience?

What we’ve developed are unique PR and distribution film packages with the independent filmmaker in mind. The approach is to actively PR and market a film while pursuing distribution through a number of channels including theatrical, DVD, VOD/Pay TV, and Online/Streaming.

We deal directly with distributors to make sure your film get the best deal and secure the widest release possible.  By coupling our distribution efforts with a simultaneous specialized publicity campaign, we increase your film’s exposure both during the process of securing distribution, and during your film’s release.

If you have a completed independent film and are seeking distribution and publicity we can help. We have worked with a wide array of movies.  Each film is unique and there are an almost infinite number of different strategies we can utilize depending on the needs of each project. Your primary objectives are to have your film find its audience and to make your project profitable.  Public relations and distribution are the two keys that can help you reach your goals.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2013