Leslie Simmer of Kartemquin Films talks about the journey to edit social justice motivated documentary films and docu-series. Leslie Simmer is Kartemquin's Director of Editing as well as Senior Editor on staff.
For over 19 years Leslie has worked at Kartemquin in various capacities. She is currently working on the multi-part series America to Me. Her most recent project before that was Raising Bertie, which she edited and co-wrote, and which premiered at Full Frame in 2016. Leslie edited and co-wrote the Emmy Award-winning film, The Homestretch, which world premiered at Hot Docs 2014 and screened on PBS’s Independent Lens in 2015. She edited and co-wrote the Emmy-nominated feature documentary As Goes Janesville, a co-production between Kartemquin and 371 Productions which screened on PBS Independent Lens in October, 2012. She also edited with Steve James on the ESPN film No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson. She edited the Emmy-nominated In the Family (Best Editing, "Best of the Midwest Awards”). In 2005, Leslie was co-editor with Steve James on The War Tapes. From 2001-2004 she wore dual hats on the seven-part PBS series The New Americans as both Series Story Editor and Post Production Supervisor. Prior to putting on her editing hat full-time, Leslie worked in various different production and post-production roles on a number of Kartemquin Films, including Stevie, Refrigerator Mothers, 5 Girls, and Vietnam: Long Time Coming. Leslie got her BA in Communication/Theater Arts (Phi Beta Kappa) from Kalamazoo College in Michigan. She did graduate work in film at Columbia College, Chicago, where she began her long and passionate relationship with the Avid. When not in the edit room, she enjoys travel, music, good food and liquor, snorkeling (and beaches in general), and helping animals.
Deo Cardoso is a Brazilian-American filmmaker completing his first feature film, "Cabeça de Nego", and starting the international film festival circuit. He talks about the reality of living in Brazil as a filmmaker, getting his film financed by the Brazilian Film Council's first affirmative action grant to support minority filmmakers, the obstacles of telling a story about the educational reality of a corrupt and under-funded educational system, finishing his film under a new political regime that's trying to eliminate the Brazilian Film Council, and finding a World Premiere for his film to help it find a global audience.
Deo's film, "Cabeça de Nego" (English translation "A Brother's Mind"), tells the story of a young student, inspired by the example of the Black Panthers, decides to protests the racist and under funded school he attends. The story was inspired by one of the schools in Deo's neighborhood and the kids he meet that were protesting the school's corruption.
This episode is special because Deo Cardoso is the first international filmmaker whose been on the podcasts. Deo's film will start the film festival circuit in late 2019/early 2020 and we'll be doing more episodes with Deo as he brings this extremely special film to audiences around.
Gordon Quinn and Josh Hyde talk about the history of “cinéma vérité,” Kartemquin starting as a filmmaking collective, being the muse for Bob Dylan's song "Quinn the Eskimo" (“The Mighty Quinn”), helping create Hoop Dreams and Minding The Gap, the mission to empower filmmakers, and maneuvering today's distribution reality (streaming, theatrical, and TV) with powerful documentaries that leave distributors "in awe at the power of cinema."
Artistic Director and founding member of Kartemquin Films, Gordon Quinn has been making documentaries for over 50 years. Roger Ebert called his first film Home for Life (1966), "an extraordinarily moving documentary." With this film, Gordon established the direction he would take for making “vérité” films investigating and critiquing society by documenting the lives of real people. Gordon created a legacy of inspiration for filmmakers and a home where they can make high-quality, social-issue documentaries. Gordon was the executive producer for Hoop Dreams (1994), about 2 inner-city high school basketball players for 5 years as they pursue their NBA dreams. (Sundance Film Festival Audience Award, The Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, Chicago Film Critics Award – Best Picture, Los Angeles Film Critics Association – Best Documentary, & Academy Award Nomination)
Other Gordon Quinn films include: Vietnam, Long Time Coming, Golub, 5 Girls, Refrigerator Mothers and Stevie. He executive produced Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita and The New Americans. He produced, In The Family, about the human consequences of genetic medicine and executive produced Milking the Rhino, about community-based conservation in Africa, and At The Death House Door on a wrongful execution. As a director, he completed Prisoner of Her Past, a Holocaust survivor suffering from late-onset PTSD, and co-directed the 2011 release A Good Man, about the dancer Bill T. Jones. '63 Boycott, directed by Gordon about the 1963 Chicago Public Schools Boycott. (2017 Chicago Int’l Film Festival, MOMA’s 2018 Doc Fortnight, 2018 Pan African Arts + Film Festival – Audience Award for Best Documentary Short, Short-listed for a 2019 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short)
Gordon’s recent films as executive producer include Minding the Gap (2019 Academy Award nominee, Best Documentary), the America to Me series, Edith+Eddie (2018 Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Short), Keep Talking and Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2018 Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary). Gordon has won many awards, including 3 Emmy awards, the 2015 Int’l Documentary Association (IDA) Career Achievement Award, the Hot Springs Documentary Festival's 2014 Career Achievement Award; the 2015 Houston Cinema Arts Festival Special Tribute Award, the CIMMfest’s 2016 BAADASSSSS Award for career achievement in movies and music and the 2016 St. Louis Int’l Film Festival's Maysles Brothers Lifetime Achievement Award.
Keri Pickett is an award-winning artist and producer/director/cinematographer of the documentary First Daughter and the Black Snake, a feature film following environmental activist Winona LaDuke and her family and communities efforts to keep big oil out of her tribe’s sacred wild rice territory.
The film has been nominated for many documentary feature film awards and it won "Best MN Made Documentary Feature" at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival and "Best Feature Film" from the Portland EcoFilm Fest.
Keri also created the feature documentary film, The Fabulous Ice Age, the winner of an audience award at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival and best non-feature film and best non-feature director awards from both the Women’s Indie Film Festival and the Gwinnett International Film Festival. The film spans a century of dancing on ice and the skating pioneers who changed the world with one show skaters’ quest to ensure their history is not forgotten. The film is streaming on Netflix in 10 languages.
Keri Picket is most well known as a photographer, her career started in 1983 when legendary NYC Village Voice Director of Photography Fred McDarrah gave Pickett an internship at the newspaper where she worked until the late 80’s when she left NYC. Photos of the intimate moments of her grandparents daily life while in their mid 90’s is put together in her book Love in the 90s, BB and Jo, The Story of a Lifelong Love, a Granddaughter’s Portrait by Keri Pickett (Warner Books, 1995). The book pairs photos of BB and Jo’s daily life with excerpted letters from their year-long postal courtship from the late 1920s and was published with a miraculous printing of 150,000 copies. Gender play unites a community in the book Faeries (Aperture, 2000) which won the Lambda Literary Award for best art book of 2000. Faeries pairs photos and interviews exploring values of the ‘radical faeries’ at their retreat place in the Northwoods. Keri also documented the life work of Mary Jo Copeland as she provides food and shelter at her faith-based organization in the book Saving Body & Soul, The Mission of Mary Jo Copeland. Pickett’s photographs are in International and National Museums. She has been awarded fellowships from the Bush Foundation, McKnight, Jerome and Target Foundations as well as the National Endowment for the Arts. Her pictures have appeared in Life, Time and People magazines as well as Stern and Geo. Pickett is a 2017 McKnight Foundation Fellow in Media Arts.
Keri Picket and Josh Hyde talk about being a young photographer in 1980’s New York, her lifelong friendship with Winona LaDuke which evolved into the film First Daughter and the Black Snake, how to defend sacred land from the construction of an oil pipeline, connecting two Native American activists (Alex White Plume and Winona LaDuke), her journey to sit in ceremony with the Lakota, and her newest project made in partnership with the group Film Fatales founded by Leah Meyerhoff.
Marie Cheng talks about choosing to be a story teller over going to business school, the long journey through film school, playing the intern and production assistant game, working hard as a core value, how to find the right creative community in Hollywood, how to teach yourself to write scripts, learning improv at Upright Citizens Brigade and how to write animated TV scripts for DreamWorks and Nickelodeon. Some of Marie's past credits include working on shows like The Adventures of Puss and Boots and Harvey Girls Forever! on Netflix.
Marie Cheng is a comedy writer-performer based in Los Angeles. As the first in her family born in the U.S., she gravitates toward fish-out-of-water stories and good boba. She grew up in Huntington Beach, CA, and graduated from Chapman's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts with a BFA in Animation. She also studied abroad in Florence, Italy, and won't stop talking about it.
She loves curly fries and animals that look like bread. Here is a link to Marie's award-wining senior thesis film, Volcano!, just for fun. For more fun and storytelling, please follow Marie Cheng's Instagram.
Brian Newman talks about producing independent films, transitioning to working with brands on distribution strategy for branded content films, how to be diversified as a producer and how basic analytics can help a film release.
Brian Newman is the founder of Sub-Genre. He consults on content development, financing, distribution and marketing to help connect brands and filmmakers with audiences. Clients include: Patagonia, REI, Keen, Yeti Coolers, New York Times, Sonos, Sundance, Vulcan Productions and Zero Point Zero. Brian is also the producer of the upcoming The Ground Between Us, The Outside Story, and Love & Taxes. He also served as executive producer of Shored Up, The Invisible World and Remittance.
Brian has served as CEO of the Tribeca Film Institute, president of Renew Media (known for the Rockefeller Fellowships) and executive director of IMAGE Film & Video (producers of the Atlanta Film Festival). Brian serves on the advisory board of the Camden International Film Festival. He was born in North Carolina and has an MA in Film Studies from Emory University.
Brian is a frequent keynote speaker on branded content and the future of film and new media. He is known as a serial entrepreneur and leader in the film industry, having led: the merger of Renew Media and the Tribeca Film Institute, combining two nonprofits into a leading media center, the launch of the Reframe Project to digitize and make accessible thousands of “stuck on the shelf” films, the start-up, Flicklist, an app to help people find the best films to watch, and development of the Sundance Institute’s Transparency Project, an effort to aggregate and make available the financial data on hundreds of indie films.
He has served on the boards of Grantmakers in Film & Electronic Media (GFEM, now Media Impact Funders, as Vice Chair and Treasurer); Muse Film & Television, Rooftop Films (Chair) and IndieCollect (Co-Founding Board Member).
Colby Gottert is an Emmy Award-winning producer and cinematographer whose films have been broadcast on HBO, CBS, ESPN, AT&T Audience, Fox Television and PBS, including limited theatrical releases.
A prolific, creative producer known for his ability to manage multiple crews and projects simultaneously worldwide, his wide range of credits include the critically acclaimed feature documentaries and series: Voyage of the Vezo (PBS); Life Out of Balance (World Bank); Youngstown Boys (ESPN 30 for 30). Nossa Chape (SXSW Film Festival, Fox Sports Films); Momentum Generation (Audience Award Tribeca Film Festival, HBO); Give Us This Day (AT&T Audience); and the episodic series Phenoms (Fox Sports 1) and Home for the Holidays (CBS Television).
Co-founder of Digital Development Communications (DDC), the development industry’s leading documentary production company for the past 15 years, with offices in North Carolina, Washington DC and Colombia, DDC has established production capabilities in over 75 countries worldwide.
On this episode, Colby talks about learning filmmaking through instinct, how to find the right opportunities as you evolve as a filmmaker, building an international and multi-lingual team and the constant struggle to create original content like the Remastered Docu-Series on Netflix.
Chris Hunt is a comic book creator, writer and artist. Currently residing in his hometown of Westerville, Ohio, he arrived back there after 19 years in Boise, Idaho and 3 years in New York City. Inspired as a 9-year old boy to pursue comics as a full time career, it took him almost 20 years to finally fulfill the dream. His first full length graphic novel, CARVER: A Paris Story debuted from Z2 Comics as a limited series to great acclaim in late 2015, eventually garnering "2016 Graphic Novel of The Year" from IGN.com.
Chris has worked for AMC, IDW Comics, Universal Music Group, Fat Possum Records as an artist, and has additionally lent his writing talent to Vertigo Comics alongside his friend and mentor, Paul Pope whom, Hunt studied under at The Atlantic Center for The Arts.
Chris’s freelance work ranges from special creative services for brands like Filson to the graphic novel, Eden: A Skillet Graphic Novel, for the band Skillet.
The music used in this episode comes from the feature documentary film, American Hemp.
Chelsea Hernandez talks about growing up in Austin, going to college in NYC, finishing film school at University of Texas, working at KLRU-TV - Austin’s PBS station, applying for grants, documentary filmmaking strategy and making her first documentary feature, Building the American Dream.
Chelsea Hernandez is a Mexican-American filmmaker based in Austin, Texas. Her work focuses on the unique perspectives of various issues and topics through the lens of ordinary people who challenge the status quo and injustices across the globe. She is an 8-time Emmy winning director, producer and editor in the Texas region for her work on PBS documentary series, Arts In Context. Chelsea's short documentary work includes See the Dirt, (2012 Austin Film Festival Best Short Documentary, Edinburgh) and An Uncertain Future (2018 SXSW Texas Short Jury Winner, Aspen Shorts Youth Jury Winner, Dallas International Film Festival Best Texas Short Special Mention). Chelsea’s first feature documentary, Building the American Dream, premiered at the 2019 SXSW film festival and will air nationally on PBS. Building the American Dream was the Seed & Spark and Project Greenlight #UntoldStory Contest winner. She is a fellow of Firelight Media Doc Lab, Tribeca Edit Storylab, Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) National Mediamaker Program and NALIP Latino Media Market. She is also a grant recipient of JustFilms and Tribeca All Access.
Bryan Rodriguez is an acupuncturist and tai chi practitioner living in Boulder, Colorado. Through his life Bryan found the healing arts. A fun side note is the host of the podcast, Josh Hyde, and Bryan do tai chi together.
Bryan talks about discovering the benefits of acupuncture, how it balances your body and the three basic energy centers of the body according to tai chi philosophy.
The music used in this episode comes from the film Return of the Kung Fu Dragon. It was in the public domain on Archive.org, so we decided to include it for fun.
Mitch Shenassa, writer, anthropologist, and co-founder of Incredibowls smoking devices, stops in to drink tea and help me with some research for a new script involving an artifact that's a spiritual weapon. Mitch was the script editor for the script I just published, How to Kill a Bad Man.
Mitch talks about magic, basic hoodoo practices, how to navigate the physical world and the magical world, and he helps me understand my cinematography and editing work on Sweet Micky for President, a feature documentary I helped shoot in Haiti where I realized Voodoo is real.
Mitch Shenassa is a reoccurring guest, specializing in ritual magic from an anthropological perspective.
As a filmmaker, sometimes you find yourself in strange situations with profound meaning. I was filming extra shots for a feature documentary on the hemp industry in Colorado and I filmed a talk by Winona LaDuke at the 2019 NoCo Hemp Expo to get some sound bites to add to the film. Instead, I came to tears multiple times, while holding the camera, and realized I have to make Winona's talk into a podcast episode from the the front lines of storytelling. This episode is Winona LaDuke's talk in it's entirety and it covers: being a water protector, activism and environmentalism for life, fighting dumb ideas, choosing the right future, creating a better future by working together, regenerative economies, the Sitting Bull Plan (the Green Deal) and an indigenous hemp industry.
Winona's been part of many documentary films. Most recently, The First Daughter and the Black Snake is a feature documentary following Winona LaDuke as she fights to block an Enbridge pipeline threatening sacred wild rice watersheds and her tribe's land. The film is directed by Keri Pickett.
Dr. Hari Ailinani stops by to help research my new documentary film, American Hemp. We talk about healthcare in Indiana, a CBD study he did on his patients, and the results. Hari was also an an actor in one of my feature films, My Friend's Rubber Ducky. He plays Guru Harinana, a motivational speaker who helps calm down a kidnapping with his words.
Jeff Zimbalist was born on August 15, 1978 in Northampton, Massachusetts, USA. He is an Emmy and Peabody award-winning producer, writer and director, known primarily for Favela Rising (2005), The Two Escobars (2010), Youngstown Boys (2013), Pelé: Birth of a Legend (2016), Momentum Generation (2018), and his Netflix Remastered Series: Who Shot the Sheriff?, Massacre at the Stadium, Devil at the Crossroads, The Lion's Share, The Two Killings of Sam Cooke, Tricky Dicky and the Man in Black, He works with his brother Michael Zimbalist.
On this episode, Jeff talks about making his first feature film, Favela Rising, and how it was a springboard into making documentaries for HBO, ESPN, and many others. Along the way Jeff teams up with his brother to elevate their storytelling and this leads to their first narrative feature film, Pele: Birth of a Legend.
Chris Rejano was born and raised in the shadows of Detroit. Chris has forged a career in feature film, commercials and music videos. His creativity is steeped in early MTV, skateboard videos, and American independent cinema. His cinematography has been featured at the Sundance Film Festival, SXSW Film Festival, Berlinale, and the Tribeca. Rejano is a member of International Cinematographers Guild Local 600.
Chris talks about his long time collaboration with all of his Chicago filmmaking friends from gaffers and grips to writers, cinematographers and directors. His long time collaborator, writer and director - Jennifer Reeder, is now on the festival circuit with her new feature film, Knives and Skins. Along the way, Chris has worked with some of his long time heroes, Spike Lee and Matthew Libatique.
Russell Costanzo is the editor of All These Small Moments, a feature film written and directed by Melissa Miller Costanzo. Russell also makes film. His first feature as a writer/director/editor was The Tested. Available on Amazon Prime, Google Play, YouTube, and VuDu. On this episode, we talk about making your first feature film, the future of the Oscars, motivational films for independent filmmakers, trying to create a dynamic distribution system for filmmakers, and what happens when Netflix and Amazon buy theatre chains to release their films and increase their offerings to their members.
Melissa B. Miller Costanzo (a.k.a. Melissa B. Miller) talks about making her first feature film as a writer/director, All These Small Moments. The film got a theatrical release by Orion Classics and has a wonderful cast that includes Molly Ringwald, Jemima Kirke, Harley Quinn Smith, Brian d, Arcy James. The film is available on Amazon Prime, Google Play, YouTube, VuDu. Melissa has worked over a decade in all aspects of film production from starting at 3 Arts Entertainment and New Line Cinema to working in the art department, producing, writing and directing. She understands the core needs of bringing a film to audiences from all aspects. From time to time, Melissa gets to work with her husband, Russell Costanzo, also a filmmaker. Melissa is based in New York City. She grew up dancing and this form of creative expression evolved into her love of the filmmaking process.
Travis Irvine is a comedian, filmmaker, journalist, and some times politician. Travis’s films focus on documenting the political reality facing everyday Americans and absurdist political comedies that use extreme metaphor and physical humor to deliver messages of humanity winning over all threats, including killer raccoons. As a journalist, Travis’s man on the street interviews have been used by Vice, The Guardian, and many others major media outlets. Travis’s stand up comedy focus’s on his own campaigns for mayor of his hometown and governor of Ohio.
Travis talks about making his first feature film as an undergraduate student at Ohio University (Racoons! Bandits of the Night), navigating New York City as a working young filmmaker, journalist, stand-up comedian, graduate student in the master’s program at Columbia’s School of Journalism, and then making Killer Raccoons 2: Dark Christmas in the Dark, set to be released Christmas 2019.
The music used in this episode comes from the soundtrack of Postales. Available on Vinyl from Colemine Records, Spotify, and iTunes.
Julia Rendleman is a freelance editorial photographer and photojournalist working for major news outlets such as The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times Magazine, U.S. News & World Report, VICE and others. Julia talks about working in Louisiana a year after the BP Oil Spill, working as a staff photographer at the Pittsburgh Gazette, the Bhutanese Refugees crisis, the opioid crisis from the perspective of women prisoners in a community-based recovery program in Virginia, and finding personal projects in your local community that relate to national audiences. Julia Rendleman and the host of the podcast, Josh Hyde, grew up in a small town called Makanda, Illinois. Julia’s journey to photograph the truth is a deep, moving, dramatic, and passion-filled lesson for any storyteller.
The music used in this episode comes from the soundtrack of My Friend’s Rubber Ducky and was composed by Michael Deller. (The Budos Band, Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires)
Clarissa Jacobson wrote and produced the award-winning short film, Lunch Ladies. The short film played over 100 film festivals around the world. Along the way, Clarissa learned how to maneuver the U.S. and international film festival circuit, while writing feature scripts as part of the Twin Bridges Writing Salon founded by Joe Bratcher. Lunch Ladies is based-off an existing feature film script. Clarissa also talks about the process of optioning scripts, finding great characters to create great stories, writing a book about her film festival experiences, and giving into the writer's creative journey. There are some good lessons in this episode. And Clarissa published them in I Made a Short Film and N WTF Do I Do With It (a guide to film festivals, promotion and surviving the ride). Available now on Amazon and Kindle.
The music used in this episode come from the soundtrack of My Friend's Rubber Ducky.
Justin Hayward is a Chicago-based director who started as a production assistant and worked his way up to directing commercials, short films, and music videos by being a director of photography. Along the way, he created an award-winning short film, Divorce Lemonade. (Sundance) Justin enjoys spending time raising his kids as he writes feature and short film scripts between freelance commercial directing jobs. The music used in this episode come from the soundtrack of My Friend's Rubber Ducky.
Dan Fischer is a director of photographer living in Chicago, Illinois. He freelances on big budget commercials and enjoys making small films with his friends. Dan talks about how to stay fresh and keep a zen mindset in the middle of chaotic production days. He also talks about working his way up the ranks and learning lighting techniques as a camera PA on Big Fish, the Tim Burton film.
Chris Lett, former CNN producer and journalist, talks about working as a field producer at a major news network for a decade. During the recording of this episode, Chris was a Scripps Fellow at the School of Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Chris has covered major events such as the drawing Mohammed content in Garland, Texas that became a shooting, the shooting in San Bernardino, the Pulse night club shooting in Orlando, and the 100-year flood in Texas. We go deep into growing up between rural Virginia and 1980’s Atlanta, during a serial kidnapping of black children. Chris discusses healing himself with Egyptian yoga, known as Kemetic yoga, and how it was at the heart of Egyptian society.
The songs in this episode are from the Postales soundtrack, available on iTunes, Spotify, and Vinyl from Colemine Records.
Mario Contreras talks about coming up in the Chicago documentary scene, his experiences as an alumni of Kartemquin’s Diverse Voices in Documentary program, new documentary films to watch produced in Illinois, Minding the Gap and All the Queen’s Horses, and valuable lessons he learned as a film student at Southern Illinois University.
The songs in this episode were recorded by the host, Josh Hyde, and his cinematographer friend, Dan Fischer, when they were filming a documentary in Peru in 2001.
Michael J Deller, member of the Budos Band and founding member of Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires stops by to talk about the journey from musician to composing scores, filming Luke Cake scenes, touring the World with Charles Bradley, and getting his 6 year old daughter to play violin on the my new film's soundtrack. We also cover the meaning of, "Los Barbudos", Fidel Castro’s baseball team, Bonnie Rait fallng in love with Charles Bradley, working in analog on the Postales soundtrack, raising 2 daughters, Joe’s Shanghai food, and Jenny Deller as the coolest sister in the world. She's a wonderful filmmaker. (Future Weather, Claire in Motion)
Andrew from Environmental Farming Solutions and Pure Hemp Technology stops by to talk hemp farming, the new Farm Bill, and genetically modified food. Josh Hyde met Andrew while working in a dispensary. Andrew was learning how to farm cannabis and Josh was doing research for a feature film script, “How to Kill a Bad Man,” that’s set in the underworld of marijuana trimmers. The songs used in the episode are from Michael J Deller of the Budos Band and Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires.
Nathaniel Kennon Perkins, is an American author and indie book publisher at the Trident Press. Nate stops in to talk about the top indie book publishers and bookstores across the U.S., how he escaped the honor code at a Mormon university, Bart Schaneman's “The Silence is the Noise,” and how to stay true to your creative insight in the middle of a natural disaster.
The host, Josh Hyde, talks about making short films, feature films, and the creative journey and reality to being a filmmaker. This episode features songs from Hyde's feature spiritual stoner comedy, “My Friend's Rubber Ducky.” Soundtrack by Michael J Deller of The Budos Band & Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires.