Julia Reichert and Steve Bognar were nominated for an Oscar for their 2009 documentary, "The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant". Their 2007 documentary, "A Lion In The House", won a Primetime Emmy and was nominated for an award at the Sundance Film Festival as well as an Independent Spirit Award. This past semester, the pair taught a Film & Video Production I course as well as the Social Documentary course at American University.
Julia & Steve graciously agreed to sit down with us to tell us why they decided to become filmmakers, stories about their own personal highlights from their filmmaking careers, and what their advice would be to beginning social issue documentary filmmakers.
Doe Mayer is an award-winning professor and filmmaker. She is the Mary Pickford Chair of Film & Television Production at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and holds a joint appointment with the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. Mayer has been working in film and television for the past 30 years and has produced, directed and provided technical support for hundreds of productions in the United States and numerous developing countries. Much of this programming has been in the areas of family planning, basic education, health and nutrition promotion, HIV/AIDS prevention, population and women’s issues. On April 7, 2011 Mayer joined us here at American University as part of the Center for Social Media's Visiting Filmmaker series. Before screening the film, “The World According to Sesame Street,” (directed by Linda Goldstein Knowlton and Linda Hawkins) we had a chance to sit down to learn more about her approach to making entertaining educational films.
Josh Fox is the founder and Artistic Director of International WOW Company a film and theater company in New York. In addition to having written/directed/produced more than twenty plays, Josh directed the narrative feature film MEMORIAL DAY (2008) and most recently the Academy Award nominated documentary feature GASLAND (2010). The film is a personal investigation into the domestic natural gas drilling industry and its devastating impacts on the environment and human health. Josh as been touring the country with his film and on March 17th, 2011 Josh, joined us here at American University as part of the Center for Social Media's Visiting Filmmaker series (video of Fox's talk available here). Before his screening, we had a chance to sit down with Josh to learn more about his approach to filmmaking and creating social change through media.
Tel-Aviv based documentarian Yoav Shamir is an accomplished award-winning director, producer and cinematographer in film and television. He joined the Center on March 31, 2011 as part of our Visiting Filmmaker series. We sat down with him to get an inside look on how he approaches his work. Yoav's films reflects his passion to probe and uncover difficult and polarizing subject matter through an observational lens, delivering penetrating and ethically challenging interviews with an accessible charm. "Even the most complicated sorts of theories can be accessible to everybody, There's nothing that everybody can't understand," he says.
Compelling stories translate universally across mediums. Storytelling is a powerful element of change-making through media and fundamental to the Center for Social Media’s annual Media That Matters conference at American University. This year’s conference focused on the art and methods for “Storytelling across Platforms” for socially engaged media. It showcased the evolving media world in which publics can engage with creative transmedia projects that incorporate radio, the Web, mobile devices, film and TV.
The conference highlighted several successful projects that work across media platforms, introduced ways to generate revenue, addressed ethical dilemmas in wildlife filmmaking , explored the role of collaboration, and demonstrated innovation in radio storytelling.