By Mark Cunningham

The Beacon Center of Tennessee is proud to announce the release of our new corporate welfare mini-documentary, Rigged. The documentary tells the other side of the corporate welfare scam. It shows small business owners who have been directly affected by their competitors receiving taxpayer-funded handouts. Also featuring nationally renowned professor and “Instapundit” blogger Glenn Reynolds, the documentary talks about corporate welfare in an entirely new way and shows the real victims of this destructive practice.

Beacon Center’s hope is that the documentary will be a useful tool for people who are either undecided or against us. It offers a look at the issue from a perspective they may have never considered. They have heard about all the “job creation” and economic benefits of corporate welfare deals. Our goal is to tell the stories of the real people whom tax incentives and handouts negatively affect—stories that haven’t been told. We believe that, for far too long, free market types have merely tried to dispute the economic claims and have failed to humanize the issue. The human cost is front and center in our video.

The Beacon Center is distributing and promoting the video in four distinct ways:

  1. We encourage like-minded organizations to distribute the video to their email lists and on social media.
  2. Likewise, we will promote the documentary on the Beacon Center’s social media channels. Before we completed the video, we made sure to put aside funds so that we could execute an advertising plan for this campaign.
  3. We hope to promote the video through the media—specifically Memphis media since the documentary takes place there. We will reach out to national media, as well.
  4. Through screenings at universities across the state and film festivals, we plan to enhance the profile of the our work on corporate welfare.

When it comes to producing your own mini-documentary…

This is the Beacon Center’s first documentary, and I have learned quite a bit from it. I have two pieces of advice for other think tanks looking to create a high-quality documentary.

We were lucky to work with the great filmmaker Sean Malone on this project. There are many great videographers out there, but working with an experienced filmmaker who has produced documentaries made this process easier for everyone. Even if the filmmaker is a little more expensive, the additional cost is always worth working with someone who has documentary experience.

The second piece of advice is to build in flexible deadlines. It took us months to complete this documentary.  While we had deadlines for specific parts of the project, they were all flexible. The video turned out much better as a result. Unexpected issues always come up when filming a documentary. One of the main people in your documentary may cancel last minute and not be available for the next month. Or there may be disagreements or changes about the video’s direction once all the footage has been shot. Due to these potential issues, it’s good to be flexible with time in order to create the highest quality product.

Watch the Video

Check it out for yourself! After watching, don’t forget to share and help spread the word about the injustice of corporate welfare.


Mark Cunningham is director of marketing and communications at the Beacon Center of Tennessee.