A Billion Lives
It’s rare that a first-time, self-taught film director can simultaneously ignite a firestorm of controversy and receive critical acclaim with his first feature — but Milwaukee native Aaron Biebert has done just that with his new documentary film, A BILLION LIVES. Winner of two top honors, including the Supreme Jury Prize and Best Director at the July 2016 Melbourne Documentary Film Festival in Australia, a Remi Award at the Worldfest International Film Festival in Houston, and the Dorn Award from the Global Forum on Nicotine, Biebert’s film exposes how pharmaceutical companies, anti-smoking advocacy groups, tobacco companies, and even our own state and federal governments are to blame for the disinformation, over-regulation, and banning of vapor technologies that are helping millions of smokers quit worldwide.
Aaron’s production company, Attention Era Media, is one of the most successful video production and digital social media companies in the Midwest. Producing commercials and short films for clients such as Applebee’s, IndyCar, the NCAA, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and inner-city education initiatives, Attention Era balances the firm’s client load between for-profit and passion projects. Heavily influenced by documentaries like Fed Up and Food, Inc. and bolstered by Attention Era Media’s successes, Aaron made the move last year to create his own feature film documentary – a move that, while risky, has paid off.
But Aaron has never shied away from risk. Since college, he has been responsible for the founding of a series of businesses, first co-founding a mortgage brokerage firm, then transitioning into creating a medical services company. Distressed by government overregulation and an economic downturn, Aaron closed the medical services business, and began to see how the “little guy” in business is continually squeezed – and that no one is telling that story. That end was, in part, the beginning of Attention Era Media.
After a friend’s untimely death from lung cancer, Aaron began to research smoking addiction, the chances of quitting, and what therapies work. In the midst of this research, Aaron was shocked to discover that a billion people were projected to die from smoking during the current century, and that big business and allied government interests were interfering with the marketing and distribution of an inexpensive, drug-free alternative that scientific studies have shown is successful in the cessation of smoking. Telling this story to the public is what A BILLION LIVES is all about.
Originally from Milwaukee, Aaron grew up the eldest of eight kids, and played football at Milwaukee’s Wisconsin Lutheran College, where he earned a degree in Business Administration with a minor in Art. A lifetime non-smoker, he enjoys hanging out with his wife and two kids when he’s not traversing the globe filming and speaking.
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