Filmmakers Making A Social Impact: Why & How Filmmaker Michael Mendelsohn of Patriot Pictures Is Helping To Change Our World

Yitzi Weiner
Authority Magazine
Published in
8 min readApr 27, 2023

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Do random acts of kindness for people that can do nothing for you in the physical world. For me, that means helping young people get career or work experience. Guiding employees at the company to be successful is something I am proud of and doing so in a safe environment that allows them to learn, grow, and implement the things they learn.

As a part of our series about “Filmmakers Making A Social Impact,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Mendelsohn.

Patriot Pictures, LLC packages film production and distribution elements such as the upcoming feature films GOD IS A BULLET written and directed by Nick Cassavetes starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Maika Monroe, and Jamie Foxx; GET LOST written and directed by Daniela Amavia starring Ella Bleu Travolta, James Cromwell, and Terrence Howard. Recently released BLACKOUT starring Josh Duhamel; PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND starring Nicolas Cage; RUNNING WITH THE DEVIL starring Nicolas Cage, Laurence Fishburne, Leslie Bibb, and Barry Pepper; CUT THROAT CITY directed by RZA and starring Terrence Howard, Wesley Snipes, T.I., Ethan Hawke, and Eiza Gonzalez; SYNCHRONIC starring Jamie Dornan and Anthony Mackie; ZEROVILLE starring James Franco, Megan Fox, and Danny McBride; HANGMAN starring Al Pacino, Karl Urban, and Brittany Snow and I AM WRATH starring John Travolta.

Patriot Pictures aims at entertainment that inspires social awareness spotlighting good vs evil in society throughout history and engaging audiences to participate in positive social change.

Mendelsohn has also arranged financing through BNP Paribas, Standard Charter Group/Union Bank of California, Citi Bank, and JPMorgan for such films as LORD OF WAR, written and directed by Andrew Niccol, starring Nicolas Cage and Ethan Hawke; Beacon Pictures’ and Wolfgang Peterson’s AIR FORCE ONE, Lakeshore Entertainment Produced THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES, UNDERWORLD, the Wachowski’s’’ THE MATRIX, Icon Pictures produced WHAT WOMEN WANT and Quentin Tarantino’s RESERVOIR DOGS.

Thank you so much for doing this interview with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you share your “backstory” that brought you to this career?

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I was 17 and working in the mailroom, I was asked by Johnny Carson to make a short movie for the Carson Productions Christmas office party. I had an idea that everyone thought I would get fired for. I was only making $4/hour so I really couldn’t fall far from that. With my contributions, the editor cut a 20 min video of Carson’s wardrobe malfunctions, animals scratching his face, stubbing his toe and tripping, dropping things, and mumbling humorously over his words on the Tonight Show.

We premiered the video at the Christmas party. At the end of the viewing, he made his way to the back of the room to the mailroom table. I asked Mr. Carson, “What do you think Sir?” He said, “I thought it was funny, and this is Warren Littlefield, head of NBC, and he thinks it’s a show with Ed McCann on NBC.” They asked me what I would call it and I answered “Bloops and Blunders.” It was what we call bloopers today but back then I don’t think it had been done before. I didn’t get fired for it… I actually got promoted and a raise to $5 an hour. The risk was worth the reward.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

The most interesting people I have interacted and worked with would be Marc Rowan (Yoda, Financial Jedi Master, 40+ year friendship through all seasons), Ari Emmanuel (tough, charming, clever, cunning, early years of entertainment together), Quentin Tarantino (clarity of vision, Reservoir Dogs, True Romance), Tony Scott (fun brilliant, stylized, loyal, Top Gun), Nicholas Cage (13 films collaboration over 30 years, talented), Al Pacino (Dog Day, Serpico, Cop/Detective, Compassionate, Godfather), Peter Ueberroth (Summer 1984 Olympics, Class act, efficiency cut-through red tape doer) and John Carrabino (charming, makes everyone around him better). But, I consider myself fortunate that my life and work have brought so many interesting, brilliant, and talented people my way.

Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?

These are good questions… Michelangelo (Italian sculptor, painter, architect, and poet of the High Renaissance), Andy Warhol (pop art of everyday brands, The Factory), Teddy Roosevelt (naturist, warrior, risk taker, tough guy), Paul who wrote a significant amount of the New Testament (previously named Saul in his early life) (identified the mystical human relationship with the divine).

Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview, how are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting social impact causes you are working on right now?

  • We endeavor to hire veterans on the crew of our films. We also helped finance and supported the building of Veterans in Film and TV (VFT), an online web job site for returning veterans in the television and film industry.
  • For the last 15 years, I along with my company have sponsored a Christmas Day lunch for the homeless and less fortunate, alongside Temple Israel of Hollywood at the United Methodist Church of Hollywood. We serve as many as 1000 people and families. They are given toys, pictures with Santa, and various necessary supplies for a challenging life.
  • We are active in bringing awareness to different subjects. As a son of a Holocaust survivor, we collaborated to make a documentary on genocide in Darfur, where George Clooney kindly narrated the film.
  • Recently we have been working on a film project in the Baltic Seas diving 82 meters to film ghosts of souls for 1000s of years of shipwrecks. We honor the shipwrecks from war times and losses in order to tell the tragic stories of shipwrecks and the people lost at sea.
  • As I was in Poland for a documentary shoot, we provided wheelchairs, adult diapers, and medical supplies for the displaced elderly by the war in Ukraine (2022).

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and take action for this cause? What was that final trigger?

I think, subconsciously, I have chosen to support veterans and homeless folks because my father was a concentration camp survivor. It made me realize that anyone can become a victim and what needs to be done to overcome this and become successful.

I have read and studied both the Old Testament and the New Testament, truth to power, responsibility of those surviving genocide and atrocities, and success, not being overwhelmed by tragedy, is the best revenge. And I believe in the core principles of fighting evil with good, support in word and deed, giving back, and paying it forward.

-Soli Dio Gloria -

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

A friendship was formed with an older stylish homeless gentleman over the years, Marlon Ross. He stops by my office every now and then and we support him with food, clothes, new sneakers, medical treatment, and anything else he needs, particularly conversation. At my urging, he is writing a book to illuminate the plight of the homeless and ways to improve the situation for the homeless and street challenged.

Are there three things that individuals, society, or the government can do to support you in this effort?

Yes, if I were to highlight three things other people can do to support these causes: financing, housing, and meal kitchens for homeless vets and non-vets.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Mentorship. When I first started out, my mentor was Johnny Carson, I started working for him and his lawyer Henry Bushkin. I was in the mailroom, serving legal papers, collecting coffee cups, and Xeroxing documents. Find a mentor you respect. Young professionals can think raw talent is enough. I have found that we move as a unit so as your mentor moves up the ladder, they tend to bring those they trust who are loyal, talented, and hard-working with them.
  2. Sticking with your friends. I have friends from my 20s that have been part of my life and from whom I have learned a great deal about friendship and business. We have been there for each other in our successes and losses.
  3. Go the extra mile to learn multiple aspects of your profession. I would do production (bank) financing from 9 am to 5 pm, then head over to set in the evenings to work on and observe production, then come home to read scripts, and books and write story notes from 8:30 PM to 12:30 AM. The combination of these jobs helped me get to where I am today and it is something I would recommend to other young people who want to be in the film-media entertainment industry.
  4. Keep a balance between your mental, physical, and spiritual health. A lot of times people have goals, and it ends up costing them their health, stability, friendships, or confidence in humanity. It is important to keep activities in your daily life that keep those things in check and balance.
  5. Do random acts of kindness for people that can do nothing for you in the physical world. For me, that means helping young people get career or work experience. Guiding employees at the company to be successful is something I am proud of and doing so in a safe environment that allows them to learn, grow, and implement the things they learn.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

In terms of professional work, they can create content that impacts people’s lives, projects that make you think, and help teach people about others who are not like themselves.

Eventually, you discover that the pursuit of happiness comes through the action of serving others. At times, the only thing that can make me feel better and more enlightened is by doing something for someone I care for even if they can’t do anything for me.

We are very blessed that many other Social Impact Heroes read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would like to collaborate with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)

I would love to collaborate with Chef José Andrés. What he does and how he helps feed war-torn refugees aligns well with my passion for people affected by war, veterans, and homelessness.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Theodore Roosevelt:

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best if he wins, knows the thrills of high achievement, and, if he fails, at least fails to dare greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”

We endeavor to accomplish new projects’ different goals, companies, and protection of nature, refugees, the homeless, vets, and children. While we do not know the outcome, we dare to achieve, at the risk of failure, but never without going all out lose or wine.

How can our readers follow you online?

Instagram/Twitter: @patriotpictures

Facebook

Website: www.patriotpictures.com

And I’ll be a guest on a few podcasts coming up which we will share on our social media pages as well in the coming months.

This was great, thank you so much for sharing your story and doing this with us. We wish you continued success!

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Yitzi Weiner
Authority Magazine

A “Positive” Influencer, Founder & Editor of Authority Magazine, CEO of Thought Leader Incubator