The stars have been coming out in droves in an effort to encourage U.S. citizens to votein this upcoming election in campaigns from HBO/Rock the Vote, YouTube and Save the Day, the campaign from Joss Whedon starring a self-proclaimed "shit-ton of famous people." Now, Anonymous Content, the production company behind Oscar-winning films "Birdman," "Spotlight" and "The Revenant" and many celebrated ads, has mobilized an army of stars for another voter initiative, #VoteYourFuture.
Top Hollywood directors David O. Russell ("Joy," "American Hustle"), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu ("The Revenant," "Birdman"), Armando Bo ("Birdman"), Tom McCarthy ("Spotlight") and Mr. Whedon went behind the camera to direct a campaign starring celebrities including Julia Roberts, Robert DeNiro, Samuel L. Jackson, Luiz Guzman, Harvey Keitel, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kendall Jenner, Christian Slater, Rami Malek, Moby, Martin Sheen -- as well as social media stars Hannah Hart, Anna Akana and Melvin Gregg. To boot, the effort also tapped top cinematographers Rodrigo Prieto ("The Wolf of Wall Street," "Argo") , Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki ("Gravity," "The Revenant") and Matthew Lloyd ("Daredevil") on photography.
Many of the actors appear in an anthem film that debuts today, and each will feature individually in nearly 100 separate videos that will be distributed through their own social channels until Nov. 8. Unlike the "Save the Day" film, which was light-hearted and satirical in its approach, the new effort takes a more somber tone as the celebrities express their feelings on issues that matter to them and on the importance of voting. Among the entreaties include Moby speaking about gun control and witnessing firsthand the grief of the families of Sandy Hook victims, Donald Faison on his fear for his sons, Kathy Griffin on LGBT rights, Wilmer Valderrama and Rami Malek speaking of their families' struggles around employment.
#VoteYourFuture was conceived by Anonymous Content Founder/CEO Steve Golin, himself a multi-Oscar winning exec and a member of last year's Creativity 50. "I've been involved in getting out the vote for a long time," he said. "Back in the '90s, I worked on Rock the Vote for MTV and I've always been interested in people having their voice heard and being politically active. Our effort is more important this year than ever before, especially with what's at stake with the Supreme Court."
The anthem debuts along with a website, VoteYourFuture.Us and a YouTube channel. The initiative itself is bipartisan, aimed at mobilizing millennial voters. "We didn't encourage people -- in fact, we asked people to not mention either of the candidates," Mr. Golin said. But ultimately, a review of all the films will reflect a largely pro-Clinton stance among the Hollywood pros who participated. "We did shoot some people that were Trump supporters," Mr. Golin said.
The effort is not meant to end at the celebrities, and the hope is that others will be inspired to create their own messages and share them with the campaign hashtag #Voteyourfuture.
As far as getting all the big names on board, one of the biggest hurdles was scheduling. "We were thinking about doing it over the summer, and then it was a question of timing, between people on vacation, then Toronto, then Fashion Week," he said. "Corralling the talent was a big effort." Nevertheless, "the turnout was phenomenal," Mr. Golin said. "People were really passionate about this and about making sure voices get heard." In fact, Anonymous had pushed the initial release date after more talent signed on to participate.
The directors spent four days shooting -- three days at Paramount in Los Angeles, and one day at Milk Studios in New York. Arcade Edit also cut the entire series of films.
As for the creative, the talents didn't have a set script. "We had certain lines we wanted people to say for when we cut together the anthem, but otherwise, people talked about what was important to them, whether it was climate change or immigration or health care," Mr. Golin explained.
Neither Mr. Golin, who says he's "leaning pro-Hillary," nor the directors appear in the films. "My job is to stay behind the camera," he said.
As for such other big celebrity election efforts, the more, the better, Mr. Golin said. "All these other initiatives are great. It's not a competition. We all have the same goal. What would be fantastic is if we didn't have to do this and voter turnout was 100%."
This article also appeared on Adage.com.