I am the director and producer of numerous award-winning films including Lost in La Mancha (Oscar Shortlist, Evening Standard Award, 2003), Brothers of the Head (Michael Powell Award, 2006) and The Bad Kids (Sundance Special Jury Prize, 2016). My films have screened at Sundance, Berlin, Telluride, Toronto, Hot Docs, Tribeca, True False and Visions du Reél and have been released theatrically worldwide. I am a two-time fellow of the Sundance Labs and have most recently served as an Advisor at the Sundance Documentary Edit Lab. My work has been nominated for a News and Documentary Emmy and a Peabody Award. I have also conducted story workshops as a cultural emissary for the U.S. State Department and been a mentor for Film Independent's Doc Labs.
Missing in Brooks County (Lisa Molomot, 2020)
Good documentary storytelling is challenging, to say the very least, because our raw materials rarely conform to the demands of an elegant story structure.
I have been producing, directing and editing documentaries for the last 30 years and have never successfully reached the end of a documentary short or feature without significant input from audiences of my peers, or without at some point hiring a story consultant. It is the norm. There is no shame in it! Having outside eyes on our films allows us to understand what we're really communicating to people. It get us beyond our fixed ideas and out of our heads. And it can make the difference between a film that sits on the shelf and one that becomes a success on the festival circuit.
Most documentary films present an issue about which the filmmaker is passionate. But it is often that very issue or the facts which surround and support it that become the enemies of good cinema. Trying to determine what your audience absolutely needs to know without drowning them in information is what I believe distinguishes a cinematic experience from a filmed essay. It's a delicate balance and one that is very much worth finding.
Similarly, while locating and spending time with a great character or characters is no doubt part of our filmmaking process, ensuring that those characters are fully realized and their stories properly dramatized on screen is just as hard. Good characters don't just exist. They need to be nurtured and crafted.
I have expertise as a story and editing consultant not just from my own documentary productions, but with seven years experience writing screenplays for Hollywood production companies. Understanding how to structure a good fiction narrative brings a tremendous value to telling an effective, dramatic and entertaining documentary story. I have been most gratified over the years when audiences and critics have remarked that my documentaries play "as if they were scripted."
I can help guide your process at any stage. From pre-production decisions about the choice of characters, to editing character and sizzle reels for fundraising, to helping you identify the potential beginning, middle and end of your story so you're more confident about your shooting schedule. In production I can help guide your choices about footage management and logging techniques. And in post, I can help structure your post schedule, assess your selects reels, hone your treatments for further fundraising, and give detailed structural analyses of your rough cuts.
I very much enjoy getting to know my fellow filmmakers and listening carefully to their goals. I would love to help you tell as good a story as you possibly can.