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Meet James Hawthorn and Andrew Steel of Flicks4Change in Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to James Hawthorn and Andrew Steel.

Thanks for sharing your story with us James and Andrew. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Andrew and I both come from an acting background and believe in the power of storytelling to change lives. The trouble with being an actor sometimes is that you don’t always get to tell the stories that need to be told. We wanted to create a platform for socially conscious stories, especially short films, to be shared with a larger audience. Our goals were:

1) To bridge the gap between art and awareness of important social issues, and meaningful philanthropic action.
2) Support these hard working and caring filmmakers.
3) Support the nonprofits that tackle the issues featured or included in our films by making them an integral part of our festival experience.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Yes and no. Starting a film festival with our lofty mission and almost no capital is never easy. However, we have been blessed to find so many terrific partners in our nonprofits, venue owners, filmmaking community, volunteer staff, etc that have helped us create truly spectacular events on a shoestring budget.

The biggest challenge has been that neither Andrew nor me had any experience with running a festival. At times we were drinking from a firehose and definitely making it up as we went along. However, that has also given us a certain kind of freedom to create what we feel is a truly unique festival unlike any other.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Flicks4Change – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
In addition to putting on fantastic events in Los Angeles, Washington DC, and Sydney, Australia, we are working towards building a year-round community that unites difference makers with that those that want to make difference, using film and art as the catalyst. Essentially, we would like to be a “Meetup Groups” for the socially conscious. As we continue to grow the organization, we would love for our festival guests and social media fans to be able to go to our website, enter an issue they care about or the zip code they live in and have an event calendar pop on side of the screen and a list of the films we’ve screened dealing with that issue pop on the other side. The event calendar would include volunteer opportunities and events put on by our nonprofit and film festival partners. The goal would be to give our audience opportunities to BE the change 24/7, 365… not just at our festival events.

I think what really sets us apart as a film festival is that we believe awareness isn’t enough. We try to bring heads of nonprofits, filmmakers, influencers, and (hopefully this year) political and private sector leaders together to have a real conversation with our audience about what we can all do to tackle these issues and make the world a better place. It’s my belief that it doesn’t take much for each person; just a little bit from most people. My personal call to action to our audience is to volunteer for half of one weekend day just once per month with an organization whose mission moves them: If every person donated their specific talent, time, knowledge, or care for just this small amount each month, we could solve a lot of problems together.

Another thing that has happened at our festivals which was delightful yet unexpected was our nonprofit partners taking to each other and discovering opportunities to work together to better execute their missions. No one social issue exits in isolation. For example, you can’t talk about youth homelessness without discussing domestic violence, substance abuse/addiction (by the parents), LGBTQ acceptance, sex trafficking, the foster care system, and education. Through cooperation rather than competition, I believe many nonprofits may be better able to execute their missions. Furthermore, I believe that whatever bucket of funds exists grows larger when you can make a compelling case to donors for how much more effective your organization will be now that it’s working in cooperation with others.

Finally, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence reached out to all three filmmaking teams of the films we screened last year with the intent to make their own film. Andrew and I have always believed that film and storytelling is one of the most impactful ways to change hearts and human behavior, and it’s really cool to see our nonprofit partners jumping at the opportunity to connect with our extremely talented filmmakers.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Now that we have a development officer to help us with much-needed fundraising, we’re excited to get our “Meetup Groups” style community going online with the first funds that come in. We’re also adding a scriptwriting competition. Through our industry connections, we’ll be helping the winner produce their film. To that end, many nonprofits and filmmakers have asked us for production help. As we bring in the funds to add staff and resources, we want to answer this call and facilitate content creation.

I also think we have a tremendous opportunity for growth through partnership with other festivals. I really think we’re creating a new model for film festivals as a vehicle for social change. We would like to create a festival in a box – a curated experience that can be woven into other festivals – with the goal of adding interactive and proactive components for their audiences to roll up their sleeves and be the change our world needs. I hope this will help us grow our audience while bringing value to other festivals.


  • Tickets will range from $20 GA to $150 for VIP sit-down dinner experience

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Phone: 310-721-3371
  • Email:,,
  • Instagram: @flicks4change
  • Facebook: @flicks4change

Image Credit:

Tracy Saunders

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