Category: Alumni at Work, Alumni Stories, Georgetown Magazine, Spring 2022

Title:Making movies with a mission

Author: Patti North
Date Published: April 26, 2022

For as long as he can remember, Ilan Arboleda (SFS’97) was drawn in what seemed like two disparate directions: politics and the arts. After a childhood spent singing, dancing, playing instruments, acting in plays, and watching multiple movies each weekend, as well as serving as a page for Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (L’61, H’89, Parent’21), he ultimately found a way to satisfy both of his interests: filmmaking.

When Arboleda started at Georgetown, he was leaning toward politics. But by the time he was a sophomore, he began to see with disappointment the waning of the bipartisanship he had witnessed as a page and decided to focus on filmmaking.

“I’ve been committed to social action from a young age and had an idea that movies might ultimately prove to be a more effective tool in driving change than politics,” he says. There was only one problem: Georgetown did not have a film school. With the help of his academic advisors, he was able to construct a custom field of study that is close to the Culture and Politics track Georgetown now offers.

For the first two years after graduating, he worked in the studio system under the legendary director Garry Marshall, working on hits such as Runaway Bride. He later ran an international film finance and consultancy called Cinapse, drawing on lessons he credits to his Georgetown education in international business diplomacy. But Arboleda soon struck out on his own, founding his current company, CreativeChaos VMG, in 2010.

Since then he has produced a growing body of films that challenge conventional norms, embrace provocative ideas, and tackle systemic inequities. Thank You for Your Service focuses on the mental health crisis in the military. This Changes Everything and Casting By both expose gender inequality in Hollywood hiring practices. Bleed Out is about a medical error that Arboleda says forced an overhaul in medical transparency policy at the largest health care provider in the Midwest. By his count, CreativeChaos films have helped drive changes in federal law, and the laws of five different states.

But Arboleda remains close to his Georgetown roots and was recently in Washington, D.C., to film a TV series inspired by a class at the School of Foreign Service. The series tells a complex tale about an Italian banker who served both the Vatican and the Mafia before his murder.

Arboleda is also excited about another project he is developing in partnership with the Georgetown University Institute for Women, Peace and Security. It will focus on the role of women in mitigating conflict and bringing peace to countries such as Northern Ireland. Arboleda plans to “mine the untold stories of heroines who are making an incredible difference in countries on three continents.” He hopes to begin filming in 2023.

If he had to do it over again, would he have chosen film school over Georgetown? “No,” he says firmly. “More than anything I wanted to understand the world and how to drive change—that’s why I went to Georgetown. What I learned there informs not only my filmmaking, but the films I want to make.”

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