It is not unusual for my films to come out of my personal experience. A crucial component for me is to address what it is to be living at a certain moment in history. The Andre Show is the story of a young boy with AIDS my husband and I adopted shortly before he died during this global medical epidemic. 71 West Broadway: Ground Zero, NY is the street address of our loft located about 2 blocks north of the World Trade Center. I began filming that story from our doorstep during the terrorist attacks . The film follows the impact on us as well as the immigrant small business owners on our block as we all struggled to move back home after the evacuation of the ‘Red Zone.’ Invisible Revolution captured a revealing interview with a young racist, Ben Smith, just 2 weeks prior to the deadly shooting rampage he went on in Indiana and Illinois before shooting himself. Among the stolen lives was the much beloved Ricky Birdsong, the former Northwest University basketball coach. This is the core of my voice as an artist in which my true collaboration is with the characters within my film as I use the medium of video to find the best way to make their situations understood by unaware or unconcerned audiences.
My work represents both investigative documentary (Invisible Revolution, There Oughta Be A Law), and experimental video letters and video diaries (Sandra’s Web: A Mother’s Video Diary,The Andre Show, and 71 West Broadway: Ground Zero, New York). I often produce, direct, edit and for some act as videographer from start to finish. Each of these projects weaves together unusual and artistic approaches to the documentary genre in order to find ever more effective methods to allow viewers to witness experiences outside of their own lives and circumstances.
I was one of eight professional journalists awarded a 1998 Kiplinger Fellowship from the Ohio State University. The program gave me the opportunity to study and explore journalism, documentary, narrative, and experimental film theory. While there I created the documentary, Invisible Revolution, about racist and anti-racist skinheads, and I interviewed a young man, Ben Smith. Ten days after this interview, Smith went on a tragic tri-state racist-shooting spree. My interview became the national news story of that summer, beginning with an exclusive broadcast on ABC’s Good Morning America hosted by Diane Sawyer, and 20/20, followed by portions of the Smith interview featured in Dateline, and HBO specials on domestic terrorism.
My goal in participating in the Kiplinger Fellowship program was to become a tenured professor, and toward that goal I received my Masters in Journalism. The award-winning feature length documentary I created during the fellowship has been broadcast internationally and screened at major festivals and museums. Invisible Revolution was an official selection of one of the world’s most important industry events, the Sundance Film Festival. Prior to the festival premiere, it was screened for the Utah State Legislature in an effort to pass state Hate Crimes legislation. This type of outreach is an example of my core belief that documentary outreach is as important, or even more so, than a single television broadcast. The Utah capitol event was documented in an article in The Nation about the increasing presence of documentary. That same year I was a participant on a panel called “The Changing Face of Documentary” at the major film industry conference, the Independent Feature Project (IFP). The panel I was a speaker on included Albert Maysles and Michael Moore.
Educational and grassroots outreach allows my work to continue to have an impact long after it is produced. The Andre Show was chosen by female prison inmates for use in developing AIDS awareness. 10 years after the film was completed, The Andre Show was screened at the 2006 Toronto World AIDS Conference (OCAD). Long established educational distributorFilmakers Library and Fanlight Productions have distributed my work to major University libraries around the world.
Throughout my career, my films have received highly positive reviews including John O’Connor of the New York Times, Variety, The New York Daily News, among others. My work has been broadcast internationally on leading programming including HBO, PBS, The Sundance Channel and the CBC’s prestigious documentary series: The Passionate Eye. They have screened at major festivals including The Sundance Film Festival, Human Rights Watch, the San Francisco International Film Festival and many others. My work has been featured at several of the most prestigious museums throughout the country: Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Walker Art Center, The Warhol Museum, The Weatherspoon Gallery, The Kitchen. In addition, 71 West Broadway: Ground Zero, New York was selected and featured as part of the memorial presentation at the Library of Congress, and has also been included in the national 9/11 film archive.
I continue to seek out new avenues for my work as an Independent Producer. The ever diminishing oversight by the FCC of media mergers and the growing consolidation of media corporations continues to close the door to local voices entering the arena of ideas & policy. My purpose in creating art has always been to craft stories that represent members of our society who fall outside of the scope of mainstream media. My latest project, There Oughta Be A Law: No Job Is Worth This!, continues my exploration of storytelling techniques that allow documentary to bring forward heretofore-unheard perspectives on social issues by tapping into the Internet and Transmedia outlets as an exhibition format.