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2016 Documentary Film Alumni Newsletter


Jamie Meltzer

Many changes this year--a new building that finally brings us together with our Art & Art History colleagues, and a new faculty member, Srdan Keca. Its been wonderful to work with Srdan. He comes with such a unique filmmaking voice that adds dimension to the program and pushes the students to think more expansively about documentary form. The new building has also been great to work in, including a state of the art screening room for our crit sessions, and a sound mixing studio. In a nod to continuity and Cummings, all of the student edit rooms are nestled in the basement . Who needs natural light when you’re editing anyways?

I’ve been finishing up shooting on my feature documentary True Conviction (new title!), and moving into what I hope will be the final months of editing. Originally scheduled to finish at the end of last year, I decided to extend production because so much was happening in the lives of my main subjects and I felt the film would be deepened by capturing this new material. The film is now scheduled to air in Spring 2017 on Independent Lens. Can’t wait to get the film out there. It's been more than four years in the making! I continue to work with alums, David Alvarado ('10) as producer and cinematographer of course, but also most recently Christian Jensen ('13) (doing some additional editing) and Melissa Langer ('15) and Catharine Axley ('15) (helping with some additional cinematography).
On a personal note, Rebecca and I have moved to the Mission District, where our two kids, Zev who is 1, and Talia who will soon be 4, love playing in nearby Dolores Park.

Srdan Keca

It’s been a year of many new beginnings. Having moved from Europe and joined Stanford in September, so far I’ve taught two courses to first year MFA students, a production course to undergraduates, and have worked with second year MFA students throughout their thesis film production: a roller-coaster ride of learning about the program and figuring out what I can bring to it. I've been astounded by the potential for making great work within this academic setting, and the extraordinary level of what is already being produced. More than anything, I’ve been amazed by and grateful for the openness, warmth and generosity of the other faculty, staff and the entire community around the program and the department.
In the midst of all that, I joined a scientific expedition to the Tibesti, a volcanic mountain range in the middle of the Sahara, and one of the remotest places on Earth. I began a film there with some four weeks of shooting, and was happy to be able to share some of the process and lessons learned with our students. A found-footage film I edited and produced just before joining Stanford, Flotel Europa, continued its unlikely festival run and won awards at Jihlava IDFF, Torino Film Festival and IndieLisboa, in addition to earlier awards at the Berlin Film Festival, Documenta Madrid, DokuFest and others. A version of a multi-channel installation I originally made for the 2014 Venice Biennale of Architecture, Museum of the Revolution, opened as part of the Artists’ Film International 2015 show at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, and continued to tour venues across Europe and Asia.
Back at Stanford, we welcomed a number of filmmakers who showed their films and gave masterclasses, including Joshua Oppenheimer (The Look of Silence), Jason Osder (Let the Fire Burn) and Jean-Gabriel Périot (A German Youth). The Art & Art History Department moved into a new building, which seems to offer endless possibilities. It's been great to meet many alumni who have stopped by, and I look forward to meeting many more of you soon.

Jan Krawitz

I’m spending spring quarter at the Stanford-in-Washington program where I’m teaching a new course for undergrads called DOCUMENTARY: Films of Persuasion, Advocacy, and Change. Hope Hall ('00) visited my class last week to talk about her job as Obama's videographer. While on the East Coast, I have screened Perfect Strangers in Philadelphia, New York, and here in Washington, D.C. In April, I attended the Full Frame Film Festival along with three current MFA students as part of the Student Fellowship Program. We had a mini-reunion in Durham with about 16 alumni from our graduate program, spanning the years from 1978 to the present. It was gratifying to see so many former students showing their new films at the festival.

Faculty Emeriti

Kristine Samuelson ('73)

Greetings everyone.  It has been a busy year as we move forward with our short film about Conflict Kitchen, an art project and takeout stand in Pittsburgh that only serves food from countries with which the U.S. is in conflict.  We’re also developing a feature project, but early days so not ready to talk about it.  

John (Haptas) and I finished a short dance film, Silent Disco, that screened at the N.Y. Independent Film Festival and in Jerusalem at the  'From Jaffa to Agripas Festival.’  Barn Dance, the dance film we made last year, has finished its festival run but recently won the Audience Award at 2016 Philadelphia Screendance Festival and is soon to screen in Puebla, Mexico, at the World Dance Alliance-Americas General Assembly

As well, I’ll be headed to Zambia in a few weeks to teach a Documentary Workshop in Lusaka for the American Film Showcase.  Sadly this conflicts with the spring screenings, but I send my best to all as you finish up your degree or your first year!


Mark Urbanek

Another great year has passed!  The move into our new facilities in the McMurtry Building was challenging in that downsizing needed to occur as part of the relocation.  Technician extraordinaire, Christian Gainsley was invaluable in that process and he has done an excellent job of setting up multiple spaces including our new Green Screen Room.  For those of you who have not yet had a chance  to see our new building, some photos are included here.  We now have an additional Facebook page which is open to all:  The new Vimeo channel: is very slowly getting content added to it.  I have linked to the trailers for several of the thesis films that will be screened in June utilizing our Vimeo site.    And last but not least, I was recently recognized for my 25 years of service at Stanford!

Class of 2015

Max Good

Since graduating last June, I’ve been balancing being a new father along with freelancing as an editor and shooter.  I’m still living in Oakland and very much appreciating not commuting to Stanford anymore.  My girlfriend Amy and I are the proud and exhausted parents of an 8-month-old daughter named Meara.  I am also in the process of expanding my thesis film, The Assassin & Mrs. Paine into a feature.

Elizabeth Lo

With the help of many Stanford documentary graduates, I'm happy to be wrapping up my newest film, Notes from Buena Vista, about a working-class mobile home park in Palo Alto that is under threat of being shut down. The project was commissioned by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and will be screening at the Aquarius Theater to a sold-out show this May. I'm in production on another film with R.J. Lozada ('15) about buses that reunite children with their incarcerated parents on Mother's and Father's day, and am working my way through several other shorts while pre-producing what will hopefully be my first feature-length documentary: an exploration of the lives of stray dogs around the world.

R.J. Lozada

After graduation, I took the creative momentum that we generated in the program and pushed myself to drive around the country alone for the first time for close to 10 weeks to produce Passing Grounds, which I hope to launch as an installation and an short this summer, and expand it into a medium length feature. I feel really strongly about the project and have really grown from the experience and the support that I've been getting from Stanford alumni. 
I've also kept a good rhythm with different short projects and commissions with a handful of Bay Area non-profits open to really changing up short profile pieces with more experimentation, and dynamism. 
Despite that, I am looking forward to gainful employment, gotta pay this debt yo! No joke! :) I miss everyone! #UnitB4Eva

Kristine Stolakis

Hi all! I'm currently producing the feature documentary ATTLA, telling the story of George Attla, a virtually unknown Alaska Native dogsled racer and American sports hero. ATTLA is directed by fellow alumni Catharine Axley ('15). Catharine and I are just launching our production company, Paper Bridge Films. I'm also directing a short film about the #OscarsSoWhite through the eyes of Fruitvale Station producer Ephraim Walker who is working to create the most ethnically diverse action series in Hollywood.

Tyler Trumbo

This year my wife and I packed up our wagon and moved back to our previous home in Richmond, Virginia. Since then I've been on the slow quest of discovering the southern filmmaking landscape. While researching future projects, I've been balancing freelance editing with finishing up my first year teaching production courses at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.

Class of 2014

Emily Fraser

I just finished a three month artist residency program at the Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos where I was working on a short film about a ghost town in northern New Mexico and the last of its former residents who have travelled from across the country to reunite on the site of the old town for the past six decades. I've also been helping Nick Berger ('08) on his feature "fish noir" documentary about illegal fishing in Baja.  And I'm shooting on a feature-length doc about the little known public health issue of endocrine disrupting chemicals in our daily lives.

Teddy Symes

The last year has been an eventful one.  My thesis film Gold Heist received its premiere this march at Cinequest Film Festival next to Daniel Chávez Ontiveros’ ('16) Born Fighter.  Henry Wiener (’14) attended the festival with me in San Jose, California.
This May I curated an art exhibition including Stanford MFA Studio Artists Michael Bartalos (’14) and Anja Ulfeldt (’14) at a space in The West Chelsea Arts Building in New York City during Frieze Art Fair Week. The event landed on Artnet News “Your Go-To Guide to Frieze Week 2016 Art Fairs.” Ulfeldt (’14) curated a solo exhibition of my work, Portable Artists Studios, at Basement Gallery Oakland last October.
Director of Media at PopTech Conference, Beth Cohen (’96) hired me as a cinematographer along with Henry Wiener (’14) to interview General Stanley McChrystal for the PopTech Conference.  
Currently I have three television documentaries in development as a director at Emerge Pictures in Los Angeles that have found representation by ICM Partners.  I spent one week in Havana, Cuba developing Havana Hope, a show that follows a group of American Medical Doctors to a socialized health care system in the exotic and mysterious island of Cuba.

Class of 2013

Yael Bridge

This past year has been a whirlwind having recently relocated back to the Bay Area to produce the documentary Saving Capitalism, starring Robert Reich. The film has kept me very busy traveling all around the country but has been loads of fun. I miss the East Coast terribly but it has been great reconnecting and working so many of my Stanford friends on this side of the Mississippi. I am also mid-production on my own project about about the Jewish community of the town of Guantanamo, Cuba. This summer I look forward to shooting more in Cuba and teaching a documentary class with Katherine Gorringe ('14) in sunny Seattle.

Helen Hood Scheer

I'm extremely grateful for what I gained from our Doc Program. Recently I moved back to my home town of Venice, CA and became a full-time tenure track Assistant Professor at California State University Long Beach. I am always interested in having documentary filmmakers visit, so please let me know if you want to guest lecture! I received a few grants this year to create special event screenings and Q&As on campus, to take students to the Full Frame Film Festival as participants in their Fellows program, and for my own creative work. This summer, I plan to return to Navajo Nation for my second shoot there with cinematographer Tijana Petrovic (’12), and I was lucky enough to film there with Mike Seely (’05) earlier this year. Personal highlights from the past year include visiting Croatia and swimming from Alcatraz to Fisherman's Wharf.

J. Christian Jensen

It's been another year filled with a variety of projects and learning opportunities. A chunk of 2015 was spent as a part-time lecturer teaching an undergraduate film production course in Stanford's Art & Art History Dept. I really enjoyed it and learned a great deal. 
Much of my additional time was spent producing freelance projects (often in collaboration with MFA alumni) or participating in films directed by MFA alum such as KQED shorts I edited under the direction of Abhi Singh ('13) and production work I did with Elizabeth Lo ('15) on her film about the Buena Vista mobile home park in Palo Alto. At the end of 2015 and into 2016 I found myself temporarily relocated to LA while editing a Netflix original non-fiction series called Last Chance U. The six-part series is a bit like Hoop Dreams meets Friday Night Lights and it should premiere in July.
On the home front, Lanée and I welcomed another baby boy into our family last October: Anders Levin Jensen. His 2-year-old brother Whitman loves him – most of the time – and they are adorable.
Some exciting changes are afoot as we'll be relocating to the Chicago area in the Fall when I begin a full-time teaching assignment in Northwestern's MFA Documentary Film program. We’re very sad to see our time in the Bay Area coming to an end and are appropriately racing to see as much of the nearby natural beauty as we can before August. I hope to see as many of you locals as possible before then and am glad that as a fresh New Day Films member, I’ll have an annual excuse to pass through town. I’m also looking forward to some additional editing projects over the summer including work on Jamie Meltzer's latest feature.

Leslie Tai

I am now quickly approaching the two-year mark, this September, since I began bootstrapping a new documentary feature titled How to Have an American Baby. The film is a kaleidoscopic voyage into the booming shadow economy of Chinese birth tourism that has "taken over" the Chinese ethnoburbs of San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles. We just received our first production grant from California Humanities. We are in the advanced stage of production and currently diving into post-production. I am grateful every day to fellow members of the Stanford tribe who have given so generously of their time, hard-earned experience, wisdom, and moral (as well as technical) support. 
Thank you to the project's Consulting Producers Jamie Meltzer and Helen Hood Scheer ('13) for someone to call when things are not so glamorous. Thank you to Meghan O'Hara ('09), Kathy Huang ('06) , Adam J. Smith ('12), Mina T. Son ('11), and Johnny Symons ('97) for walking the path and lighting the way. Thanks to John Kane ('08), Laura Green ('12), Sara Newens ('11), Paul Donatelli ('12) and many others for your patience with my questions and for referring me some freelance work when needed the most. Thank you, Village!
In November, I experienced the pleasure (and horror) of being a jury member at Kassel Dokfest for the Golden Key Award (best film by an emerging filmmaker), which I took home for my thesis film The Private Life of Fenfen the year prior. This February, I was selected as a Berlinale Talent to take part in this year's Berlin International Film Festival where I connected with festival programmers from the past and future, as well as 300 other fine film folk from all over the world.

Class of 2012

Paul Donatelli

I've been working as an editor in the short documentaries department of AJ+ for a little over a year now. It's been an interesting challenge, working with commissioned filmmakers from all over the world as well as in-house productions. The films we produce are between 8 and 15 minutes long and can be found on our You Tube page and occasionally on Facebook. Check it out! 
A film that I made at Stanford, Guerrilla Art, was recently shown at a local filmmakers screening in SF. It was a nostalgic experience to revisit the film and answer questions about it after so many years. Another short film that I made on my own last year, El Talabartero, was recently shown at the Sacramento International Film Festival. 
In other news, my wife and I welcomed our second child, William Romare, this past December. A short time ago, I sat down with both my children for a screening of Chronicle of a Summer. William (4 months) loved the first 3 minutes before promptly spitting up and crying for his mother. Bennett (2 years) made it to about the 10 minute mark and then decided that the film needed a very loud xylophone and drum accompaniment. Dare I say, he was right, and now I can't imagine watching that film any other way.

Paul Meyers

For the last eight months I have been working on my latest short film, The Blue Area.  It's an essay film about identity, memory, and comic books.  It is just about finished and I am submitting to festivals now.  My new website is presently under construction, but look for the trailer and screening info soon at:
After spending a lot of time on the east coast making the film, I am looking forward to much more time in the Bay Area for 2016.

Class of 2011

Rory Fraser

Its been a wild ride since 2011. We moved from the Bay to our hometown of Nashville in 2012, then to Ithaca, NY in 2014. Carolyn finishes her MFA in Photography at Cornell this May. This past fall I started teaching as an Assistant Professor in the Cinema & Photography Department at Ithaca College. I've had a great year, and being on the other side of the student/teacher relationship has been incredibly interesting. So far I teach Cinema Production 1 and 2, and have brought so much of what I learned at Stanford to the classroom. I love working with my students, most of whom are making narrative films, but I have a few each term who make documentary and experimental projects as well.
I screened a short experimental piece last year, Como, MS Dove Hunt, and also had the pleasure of working for a couple days in Ithaca with David Alvarado ('10) and Jason Sussberg ('10) on their new documentary about Bill Nye (resulted in a great outtake of Bill hitting me in the crotch with a frisbee, but thankfully a Sound Devices 633 was in the way). Looking forward to a summer in production on some new projects and hopefully will be able to report back next year with positive updates.
As ever, I'm always up for scoring anyone's film with banjo music (style is of your choosing), which I will do free of charge and with much appreciation for the opportunity.

Mina T. Son

Hi, everybody! Sara Newens ('11) and I are still going strong as work wives for life... in fact, after countless attempts at trying to come up with a production company name and Sara's addiction to buying domain names never to be used, we are now Wild Pair Films! And, we are based in Los Angeles. (Sara finally moved to LA!) We are keeping pretty busy these days. At the moment, we're working on a short documentary for Dropbox about a virtual law firm that helps refugees resettle in the U.S. We're also venturing into the world of VR, which is terrifying and exciting. Our feature doc Top Spin will debut on Netflix on June 15, just in time for the Olympics, and we're hoping to premiere my feature doc about a Japanese town recovering from the 2011 tsunami early next year. Please visit us in LA!

Class of 2010

David Alvarado

The past year has been great! Jason Sussberg ('10) and I continue to develop Structure Films as an independent production company for character-driven stories about science, health and technology. In August 2015 we broke documentary fundraising records on kickstarter with our latest project about Bill Nye the Science Guy and his quest to change the world. We had over 16,000 backers and raised nearby 860k. We are thrilled that crowd funding platforms are increasingly giving control back to filmmakers. We aim to release the film in 2017, and the project is also produced by the talented Seth Gordon, Kate McLean, and Nick Pampenella.
Jason and I are also directing a web series about programmers around the world using cryptography to evade government and corporate surveillance and promote constitutional privacy rights. The series should go live over the summer. Structure Films will also likely be working with Boston's PBS station WGBH to produce a two hour national television special on the crisis of diabetes. We've completed huge swaths of pre-production and fundraising and are currently seeking the remaining budget before we begin, possibly in late 2016.  I am thrilled to be working with Jamie Meltzer on his film True Conviction as DP and Producer. It's an amazing story and Jamie has an amazing vision for how to show the chamber of horrors that is the criminal justice system. It's a dark, but ultimately inspiring story.
In personal news, just a month ago at the time of writing this, I was finally able to pay off the mountain of student loan debt from undergrad and graduate school. I've been a budget extremist for the last few years in order to bring my overhead low enough to take all extra income and throw it at the terrifying debt that's been looming over me from education. This involved a lot of Costco and no spending on vacations or other non-essentials. I hope that others in my financial situation can prioritize their debt because it sure does feel nice to be free. As I've been saying recently... I have more money than ever in my life: zero dollars and no debt. But the future looks bright!

Anthony Weeks

Greetings! I missed out on giving an update last year, so this is a brief synopsis of my goings-on. I haven't been working on any films recently. However, my documentary education has come in handy in other ways. I've been talking about "storytelling" in a number of settings, including two trainings in China in June and November 2015 around visual storytelling. I held workshops in Guangzhou and Beijing, and my students came from a number of disciplines (branding, creative direction, organizational development, training, architecture, and urban planning). I had a marvelous time, and I loved designing the workshops to help the participants use visuals, text, iconography, and design in service to developing better stories and narratives in their work. I'll be going back to deliver another set of workshops in September 2016. 
I also just submitted a chapter for an anthology on storytelling that will be published in late 2016. My chapter "Storylistening and Storytelling" focuses on listening as a multi-dimensional competency as well as a necessary competency for engaging and effective storytelling. Of course, as documentarians, we already know that listening on many different levels is essential to surfacing and retelling good stories. I am hoping to bring that wisdom to a broader audience. 
Finally, I've been quite busy with facilitating and moderating summits and crucial conversations around science and health, mostly in the areas of next-generation clinical trials, genetically-modified organisms and gene editing, and translational scientific research. Again, storytelling plays a big part here, so that scientists can communicate more effectively across disciplines as well as with the general public. 
I miss making films, but right now, I'm content and energized doing what I'm doing. I do see some of my 2010 and 2011 classmates now and then, but not nearly enough! Hope you are all doing well. It's fun to read updates on Facebook about what Stanford Doc grads are doing.

Class of 2009

Mike Attie

I just wrapped my first year at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia as an assistant professor and program director of the Film & Video department. My wife, Sarah, and I welcomed our second child - Oona Rose Charlesworth-Attie, in November of 2015. Needless to say, with a toddler and a new baby most of the past year has been...interesting!
I was thrilled to see so many Stanford students and alums and Full Frame this year. And was even more excited to bring Jan Krawitz herself to speak to students at the University of the Arts in early April!

Tanya Sleiman

My training in packing film gear has prepared me well for travels with a toddler. In the past year, my daughter learned to walk in Spain, ask for her favorite foods in Turkey, and say "no" with unequivocal determination in Palo Alto. We traveled for work and family and are delighted she's been learning her ABC's with occasional umlauts and omegas throughout Athens (Greece), Baltimore and Brooklyn (USA), Cordoba (Spain), Istanbul (Turkey), and Zurich (Switzerland). I've discovered that airport security officials are more suspicious of dry toddler formula than liquid lens cleaners. Closer to home, we love visiting the McMurty Building and Stanford's new arts centers. If you see a young child asking for "more" when time to leave campus, come say hello!  With my Helen Levitt feature project, I introduced her 1948 film In The Street at the Crossroads 2016 festival, and was delighted seeing MFA friends at the screening. I am grateful the past year saw many alums with their feature premieres, plus new babies everywhere! Looking forward to 2017 adventures of film and family.

Class of 2008

Nick Berger

I just got back from a two month trip to Mexico where I was filming for a feature length documentary that I am producing with the help of Ryan Malloy ('11) and Emily Fraser ('14). The film is about an endangered fish, the totoaba, that lives only in the Sea of Cortez and has a balloon like organ called a "swim bladder" that is sold for up to $40,000 in China for it's alleged medicinal properties.

John Kane

I've spent most of the past year editing and co-producing Mike Seely's ('05) film Exiled: America's Deported Veterans. It's been wonderful to collaborate with Mike again and to have the opportunity to apply some of the storytelling lessons learned in the edit room to earlier stages of the process. Sincere thanks to the many doc program alums who contributed to our successful crowd funding campaign. We anticipate finishing this long-short (35 min.) doc in August. 
I also cut a short doc for director Deann Borshay Liem about a group of international activist women (including Nobel peace laureate Leymah Gbowee and Gloria Steinem) who seek to walk across the "demilitarized zone" separating North and South Korea in an act of peace building. My edit screened at the United Nations and as part of a congressional briefing. 
Finally, I was finishing editor on the "Independent Lens" film A Ballerina's Tale, and had the pleasure of collaborating with Theo Rigby ('10) on a branded documentary about clinical trials for Eli Lilly. Mina T. Son ('11) and Emile Bokaer ('10) contributed their considerable talents to the latter production.

Class of 2006

Jasmin Gordon

This past year I decided to be very daring---and directed my first narrative short with the gracious support of Swiss Television as well as local and national foundations here in Switzerland. It was quite a challenge and a really amazing experience...and I have to say, I am hooked! My next three projects are proof of my "wanderlust"---an introspective doc, a short narrative set in France and a doc-animation hybrid.   I also had the great pleasure of meeting up with the fabulous European based Stanford alums Lila Place ('05) and Leigh Iacobucci ('06) in Berlin for the Berlinale this year and subsequently even had the opportunity to steal Leigh away for a few more days on a doc shoot in rural Hungary.  Hope you're all doing well!

Erin Hudson Schalk

I'm still in Albuquerque, NM with my husband and kids - come visit us if you're ever in New Mexico!  I gave birth to my daughter, Lucy, last spring who joined her big brother Maxwell.  Miss you all!  I look forward to reading your updates.

Revere La Noue

What a great turn out at Full Frame!  I am always inspired by the great laughs and meaningful explorations we have every year.  I hope we figure out a way to channel the creative power of our growing group in a meaningful way.  On the work front, I have been working with Biz on a feature documentary about an unlikely collection of characters in the US, UK, Italy, UAE, and Mongolia who are struggling to find their place in a rapidly modernizing society through the ancient tradition of falconry.  I know you’ve seen this movie 100 times but this one will be different!  I am also directing commercials and working on a nine panel art installation about the tradition and mystery of rowing for the sparkling new boathouse at the University of Notre Dame.  It’s been a fun year!

Class of 2005

Lila Place

I've been living in Sardinia, Italy this past year with my family and have finally (somewhat) settled into life in this extremely slow-moving country.  When I'm not harvesting olives or herding sheep, I'm continuing to edit away in a dark room.  The film I edited last year, The Pawn, is continuing to play on the festival circuit and I just finished editing a documentary hybrid film called La Tela for a Sardinian artist.  I feel lucky to keep working with Davina Pardo ('05) , including on the edit for her upcoming film 116 Cameras.  I've also been developing a short animated documentary about african migrants in Sardinia as part of an animated doc workshop in Denmark called ANIDOX.  I miss the states and hope to be back in the not too distant future.  Please come visit while I'm here!

Class of 2004

Carla Gutiérrez

Greeting from Jersey (and NYC)! I haven't sent an update in a few years. So I'm happy to report that I'm still working as a doc editor and still loving it. This past year I've had a film premiere at Sundance - When Two Worlds Collide - which won a Special Jury Award in the World Documentary Competition. It just played at Hot Docs and we are heading to AFI, Sheffield and Human Rights Watch film festival. We'll have a run at Film Forum in NYC  at the end of summer so if you're around, come join us! Another film I edited recently, Farewell Ferris Wheel, will premiere at AFI Docs and will be on PBS later this year. I also edited a feature documentary that will be on the upcoming season of POV called Kingdom of Shadows.
Oh, and my family just got a dog - yesterday! Her name is Luna and my two sons love her.

Sally Rubin

I live in Los Angeles with my partner, Meehan Rasch, and our daughter, Millie. I teach at Chapman University and am currently in production on The Hollywood Hillbilly, a documentary funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities about media representation of rural America and the Appalachian region.

Andy Schocken

We’ve had a great festival run with my feature length producing/directing debut, Song of Lahore, taking it to festivals like Tribeca, IDFA, Sydney, Melbourne, and Dubai (the film was co-directed/produced with Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy).  We’re now preparing a US theatrical run, beginning on May 20th, with Broad Green Pictures.  Please go see the film when it hits a theater near you!  We’ve been invited to participate in the State Department’s American Film Showcase, and at the orientation, I had the pleasure of catching up with Jan Krawitz and Ramona Diaz ('95).
Some other alums I’ve had a chance to collaborate with recently: I’ve been shooting a project for Nicole Newnham ('94) in Cleveland, I worked on Charlotte Lagarde ('96) and Carrie Lozano’s The Ballad of Fred Hersch, which premiered recently at Full Frame, and Justin Schein’s ('94) Left on Purpose, which won the Audience Award at DOC NYC, and I’ve been invited to join the Impact Partners Producers Salon, along with Davina Pardo ('05).

Class of 2003

Elisabeth Haviland James

I've been trapped in the edit room cutting 13 episodes of documentary television for PBS (nearly finished), so I'm looking forward to returning my full attention to Overland, which I'm making with Revere La Noue ('06).  We will be filming in Italy and the UK this Summer and Fall, and are hoping to release the film sometime in 2018.  It was great fun and quite inspiring to see so many Cardinal at Full Frame in April - it is a tradition I've come to cherish and look forward to each year.  I only wish that the doc film brain trust could convene for film, conversation and one too many bourbons more often!

Class of 2002

Thomas Burns

I live in Tbilisi, Georgia, where I continue to work as a Director of Photography on fiction, commercial, and doc projects. I also started the region’s first color grading studio. We work with a healthy mix of local and American clients, including a recent project for fellow doc program alumna Leslie Tai ('13). After 20 years of dormancy, the Georgian film industry is undergoing a huge renaissance. The government just launched a program to give foreign productions 20-25% cash back if they shoot here. I’m happy to chat with anyone planning a shoot in this part of the world––Georgia is a wonderful place to make movies!

Michelle Cabalu Zaslav

Currently I am working as an assistant visual effects editor for an upcoming film for Legendary Pictures. This latest gig allowed me to spend a few months living in Hawaii which was a nice change of pace. Over the last year, I worked as an assistant editor on the animated features, The Croods 2 at DreamWorks Animation and Oldzilla at Original Force Animation. I also assisted on an independent film, Finding Sofia, which just made its debut at the Buenos Aires Film Festival last April.

Renee Fischer

When I finished working on The Critical Hour series for Discovery Health and joined the team at Johns Hopkins University, I didn't realize 11 years later, I would still be there, working as in-house producer, director, editor and sometimes shooter, creating 15+ short docs annually. This year so far, I've covered the political spectrum, conducting a one-on-one interview with Henry Kissinger for a film on the new Kissinger Center at our school for international studies and then answering a last-minute request, crafting a video shown at a cancer research event attended by Joe Biden. I had less than two weeks from start to finish for this latter project, but luckily pulled it off. For anyone curious, visit the JHU YouTube channel; almost everything in the Rising to the Challenge playlist was produced by me. Somewhat recently, my sweetheart also created a web site, And a few months ago, I joined the burgeoning Film Fatales Baltimore Chapter and have been enjoying meeting up with other local female filmmakers. One personal goal for the next year (or so) is to sink my teeth into a non-Hopkins project of my own! I look forward to catching up via this newsletter and would love to hear from folks.

Class of 2000

Anne Alvergue

Last year, I finished editing Echoes From the Attic, a sequel to Voices From the Attic, which premiered in Berlin in October. I am currently editing a feature length film, entitled That Way Madness Lies, set for 2017 completion, and wrapping production on my own short film about a world-renowned falconer in the Hudson Valley.

Hope Hall

I am on my last year of the best job ever, as the President's Videographer, part of the small and scrappy but heartfelt digital strategy team at the White House. 

Kristen Nutile

I’m still based in Brooklyn and I just finished a short film with JP Olsen about art-provocateur, Tav Falco.  Deep Run, the feature-length documentary that I edited is currently screening at film festivals and showed at DocNYC last year.  And in bittersweet news,  Sally Gross - The Pleasure of Stillness, a documentary about the late choreographer and dancer Sally Gross, which I collaborated on with Albert Maysles and Tanja Meding in 2006, screened at the Film Forum in NYC and the National Gallery of Art in DC as part of the Maysles and Co retrospectives.  I’m also teaching filmmaking and editing in the documentary department at NY Film Academy.
A highlight of this year was attending the Full Frame Film Festival with my former classmates Anne Alvergue ('00), Purcell Carson ('00), Hope Hall('00), Gabriel Rhodes ('00), and Sadia Shepard ('00) along with the amazing Jan Krawitz and other alumni!

Lauren (Popell) Velasco

I'm currently in my 16th year on faculty at Foothill College, in my 14th year of marriage, and in my 9th year of parenting, and feeling grateful for all of it. Time is flying! I used my most recent sabbatical year to produce an educational documentary, Learning Your Way, about the use of Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences at the community college level. I was delighted to catch up with Vanessa Warheit ('99) and to see a screening of her new film. Wishing all program alums much happiness and success in the coming years!

Gabriel Rhodes

This past year I edited Newtown, a feature documentary about the 2012 shootings in Connecticut. The film premiered at Sundance and is currently on the festival circuit. We screened it at Full Frame in April where I had a great time catching up with classmates Purcell Carson, Hope Hall, Kristen Nutile, Anne Alvergue and Sadia Shepherd as well as seeing Jan (Krawitz) and meeting current and past students from the program.
In June another film I edited, The Witness, will be opening theatrically across the country. The film follows the investigation of Bill Genovese into the murder of his sister, Kitty Genovese, who was killed in New York as 38 people watched and failed to call the police. 
I just moved my studio into a friend’s building in Crown Heights Brooklyn, where we’re building a small theater for private screenings. Should be a great space when it’s completed this Fall.

Sadia Shepard

I was so delighted to join so many of my wonderful classmates--Hope Hall, Purcell Carson, Gabriel Rhodes, Anne Alvergue, and Kristin Nutile--from the class of 2000 for this year's Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, NC. We enjoyed a wonderful reunion of film going and spirited discussion and it was great to catch up with Jan Krawitz and other alums! Otherwise I am living and working in NYC, most recently collaborating with my team from The September Issue on a short documentary set in the fashion world. I am also continuing work on The Other Half of Tomorrow, my series of short films about women in Pakistan working for social change. This year I began teaching documentary film production at Wesleyan University, and loved the chance to re-immerse myself in so many of the great films I discovered at Stanford as well as screen fellow alum's work. 

Class of 1999

Sarah Harbin

I am still living in San Francisco and am part of this new small team at GoPro that partners with non-profits to create short documentaries about their philanthropic and environmental work. This job is almost identical to a course that I TA'd for with Kris Samuelson back at Stanford in the late 90s. My first big project involves building an orphanage in South Africa, and my next one is bringing VR experiences to kids that are stuck in the hospital during cancer treatment.  While I was in Africa shooting for the orphanage project, we also shot a project with rhinos being rescued from poaching. Some of that project is already on the Gopro Facebook page and it's in VR so it's pretty stunning. It was pretty life-changing to film with wild elephants and rhinos, baby elephants and baby rhinos are maybe 1000 times more cute than you would imagine if you haven't seen one in person.  Baby rhinos actually run around and hop a lot just like baby goats - I am not even kidding about that.  'GoPro for a Cause' is kind of a dream job, but not without it's challenges, as you all can imagine.  To check out more of what I am up to, you can peak over at  or find me at

Brett Schwartz

I recently released my latest feature-length doc, Insatiable: The Homaro Cantu Story.  The film had its world premiere at SXSW this past March and is continuing through the festival circuit, with more stops next month at The Seattle Int’l Film Festival and the inaugural South Bay Film and Music Festival in Hermosa Beach.  Here’s the logline: Chef and inventor Homaro Cantu helped put Chicago on the culinary map and wanted to change the world. Insatiable takes you on a dizzying and thrilling ride with Cantu, in a story that moves from redemption and inspiration to tragedy and back again.
I’m getting ready to start pre-production on the next feature, but I’m still solidifying access to a few different stories.  I continue to be a one-man band, writing, producing, filming, and editing all on my own- this is largely due to my odd schedule and keeping budgets low.  I am endlessly inspired by the teacher-practitioner models of Jan Krawitz and Kris Samuelson as I balance my time between teaching and producing films.  If you’re ever in Chicago, look me up!

Vanessa Warheit

I’ve just started as the Content & Communications Manager for two research centers at Stanford Law School. So far the job hasn’t required any video work, but it’s nice to have a regular paycheck! Worse Than Poop!, my short film for kids about climate change and carbon-free transportation, recently won the kids jury prize at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, and The City of Palo Alto has expressed interest in using it in their efforts to win the Georgetown Energy Prize. 

Class of 1998

Tony Sehgal

My creative efforts have been focused on wet plate photography and other alternative/historical photo processes. I'll be exhibiting my work at the Santa Clara County Library in Saratoga, CA September-October. I also have images on display at A. Smith Gallery in Johnson City, TX May-June for a wet plate exhibit they're having. My areas of interest are primarily portraiture and landscapes. I'm interested in shooting wet plate images at  film festival. It's already being done at Sundance. If anyone has leads, please let me know. I'd love to collaborate. Here's my website:

Class of 1997

Yuriko Gamo Romer

My life is immersed in baseball!  I just filmed 99 year-old Julia Ruth Stevens, Babe Ruth’s daughter who was on the 1934 Japan tour with the Babe.  I’m headed up to Seattle next week to speak at a Mariners event and I spent a week at Spring Training in Arizona, including a meeting with Kenta Maeda, the Dodger’s new Japanese pitching sensation.  I’ve gotten used to hanging out on the field, in the dugouts, press boxes and clubhouses.  Diamond Diplomacy: U.S. Japan Relations Through a Shared Love of Baseball just received a grant from Cal Humanities and is in early production/development.  Please like our Facebook page:, @diamondiplomacy twitter/instagram and please check out our new website:
Bill, Niko, Mohawk and I still live in SF.   Niko is graduating from high school and will be headed to college in the fall!  (He was in-utero when I handed in my thesis film!)

Gail Huddleson

This last year I finished up a long edit on In Defense of Food for Kikim Media, which is a documentary based on Michael Pollan's book by the same name.  It broadcast on PBS in December.  And, in May of 2015, I gave birth to Craig and my daughter Audrey Eila.  It's been a busy year!

David Mehlman

Left On Purpose, a feature doc I co-directed and edited with director Justin Schein ('94) and co-producer Yael Bridge ('13), began its festival run this past year, and has won a handful of audience awards and best doc awards. I also edited the short doc, These C*cksucking Tears, about the first openly gay country singer. It is playing in festivals now, including SXSW (Jury Prize for Best Documentary Short), Aspen ShortsFest and True/False. For television I edited episodes for two doc series: Morgan Spurlock Inside Man (CNN), and truINSIDE - Documentaries about Iconic Comedies (truTV).

Johnny Symons

My new feature doc Out Run premiered at Full Frame this year, and screens soon at several upcoming festivals including Sheffield DocFest and Frameline before heading to PBS. Hope some of you can catch it at a theater near you!  Meanwhile I’m now in my third year of full-time teaching in the School of Cinema at San Francisco State, where I coordinate the documentary program. Life is busy but good.

Class of 1996

Mark Becker

Hey, all. I have my hands in a bunch of projects (doc and fiction), and I'm slowly nurturing along a couple films of my own. I’ve been doing Consulting Editor and Supervising Editor work in the last year, which I really enjoy. I’ve also been doing some teaching, and often think back to Jan (Krawitz) and Kris (Samuelson) and their inspiring presence in my life. Hope you all are doing well.

Class of 1995

Laura Harrison

I'm still running the Bogliasco Foundation, a residential Fellowship program for artists and scholars in Italy. Application deadlines are January 15th and April 15th for 5-week residencies at the Study Center on the Italian Riviera. A few of you have been Fellows, and I recommend it highly to everyone, as it's an incredible, life-changing opportunity! 
Otherwise, I'm still living in Houston - 20 years now! - but seriously contemplating moving back up to NY, now that my daughter (also 20) is at Bard College, and the rest of my family and also my job in the NYC area. It's been a big time of transition in my life, but lots of good things are coming down the pipeline, and even though sometimes I miss making my own films, there is a lot of joy in facilitating the creativity of so many gifted individuals from all over the world. Hope to reconnect with my film class buddies more when I make it back to NY - stay tuned!

Class of 1994

Ferne Pearlstein

My feature documentary that I directed, photographed, and edited The Last Laugh—about taboos in humor seen through the lens of the Holocaust, starring Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Sarah Silverman, Gilbert Gottfried, Harry Shearer, Susie Essman and many others—just had its world and international premieres at Tribeca and HotDocs. A Bay Area premiere to come this summer!
I enjoyed the privilege of working on the project with a number of Stanford alums including my husband and partner Robert Edwards (’96) who produced with me, Mark Becker (’96) who was an edit consultant, and Melanie Levy (‘09) who helped me early on with the edit. I was also a producer on Bob’s recent narrative feature One More Time (originally titled When I Live My Life Over Again) that he wrote and directed, starring Christopher Walken and Amber Heard, which was released theatrically in April and is currently out on VOD, iTunes, and all other digital platforms.

Elizabeth Thompson

This past year has been a busy one. My film This Dewdrop World finished up a spirited festival tour and has now begun screenings in homes and community centers. And since white rage is all the rage these days, my film Blink has seen a resurgence of interest. Finally, last fall I did a residency at Yaddo, where I spent six weeks writing the first draft of a fiction screenplay.

Class of 1988

Roxanne Frias

In January of this year, I completed my documentary, Latino : The Changing Face of America. It was produced by ARTE, the French-German Culture Channel. I'm based in Paris so although my film is a very American story, it has been produced by Europeans !

 My film  has been broadcast on major networks across Europe, the Middle East, Canada and Japan.
 It is very exciting to see a positive Latino story watched by people across the globe. My documentary is pro-immigrant, and this theme has resonated strongly in the countries where my film has been shown. As you know migration is a huge issue now in Europe.

 When I was in Los Angeles, in March, I  organized a screening of my documentary Latino : The Changing Face of America at ATC High School, part of the Montebello School District.
More than 100 young Latinos saw it. Afterwards we organized a Q&A. It was moving to see how my film inspired these young people, and their teachers. The discussion gave these young people the opportunity to speak about their own stories.

Class of 1987

Nicole Grindle

After 20 years at Pixar, I was proud and privileged enough to find myself a 2016 Oscar nominee as producer of the animated short film, Sanjay's Super Team. Producing this short film has resulted in my connecting with issues of inclusion that informed one of my student films, and has put me at the center of efforts to diversify the creative voices at the studio, both in terms of culture and gender.  In addition to my new "activism", I am currently producing Incredibles 2.

Class of 1986

Ruth Carranza

Pam Walton (’88) and I received a grant from the National Science Foundation to begin the pre-production phase for a video on nano electronics. This video will be the 10th addition to the existing Silicon Run series, which features semiconductor manufacturing and the fields of MEMS (MicroElectroMechanical Systems) and nanotechnology.  I spent a week conducting research at IMEC, an international research facility on nano electronics, in Belgium.

J. Clements Conger

For the last eleven years I have been teaching Filmmaking and TV Broadcast at a large public high school in Washington state. In my "spare" time I have been working on writing projects and occasionally working as an editing consultant on various doc projects. I am a member of New Day Films and am a former ITVS production manager. Rock on Stanford cinephiles.

Becky Smith

We are very, very close to finishing post on my second feature film August in Berlin, shot on location in Germany with an entirely German cast.  I am locking picture as I write this - though I probably wrote last year that I was very close to finished.  I have just received a first grant for my next independent feature, Cookie, the story of an adopted daughter who drags her adoptive mother along as she searches for her biological mother. The film explores ideas of shared and contradictory memory as well as the desire to be defined by our family at the same time we declare our loathing for everything they stand for.  Finally, I have, with excessive whining and sniveling, agreed to take the position of Vice Chair and Head of Production in the UCLA film school.

Class of 1985

Lisa T.E. Sonne

I have two new books coming out this summer with Quartos Publishing, following the success of  "My Adventures: A Traveler's Journal".  "The Great Outdoors: A Nature Bucket List", and "Bike London: A Journal" are both being released in stores June 21,  2016 and are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

For links to my other books currently out, including "The Happiness Handbook", travel articles, One Minute Trip video site,  and the nonprofit to help charities, you can go to

Class of 1983

Maggie Burnette Stogner

I’ve been working hard on an independent documentary, In the Executioner’s Shadow, that tackles the tough issues of justice and capital punishment. It weaves three personal narratives. One pro. One con. And the rarely heard perspective of a former executioner who reveals an astonishing story. In collaboration with American University colleague and author Rick Stack, we’ve filmed our subjects over the past three years, and interviewed thought leaders such as the former head of NAACP Ben Jealous, author of Dead Man Walking Sister Helen, retributionist Robert Blecker, and others. This film will help move criminal justice reform forward at a critical time. I’ve been making documentary films for more than 30 years on a wide range of subjects, but none as intense as this one. In the Executioner’s Shadow began as a film about justice, but our characters have shown us so much more. Their resiliency and humanity is inspiring.

Class of 1982

Lauren Cardillo

I spent a good deal of 2015 in the water producing a short film for NBC News Digital. The doc about an Olympic hopeful was successfully shared to many different outlets including the Today Show, the Olympics website, and USA Swimming.
I am also trying my hand at producing ads for the University of Maryland University College. This summer, I’m hoping to shoot a film with my daughter who is an aspiring filmmaker. 

Class of 1973

Judy Irving

Pelican Dreams was sold to International Netflix by Ro*Co Films, and will soon be available in 15 countries as well as the U.S. This spring I went on a road trip with Dani Nicholson, Morro’s caretaker in the movie, and shot scenes for a short sequel called Morro Finds a Friend, which will be up on Vimeo in a few months. Pelican Media has a link to Cormorants in the Crosshairs, a short film I finished last summer, that describes how our tax dollars are being used to shoot seabirds. Thanks to Allie Light and Dan Geller ('85) who nominated me, I was elected to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Documentary Branch) in 2015. Am currently researching topics for the next documentary, still interested in the relationships between people and animals at the urban edge.

Class of 1969

Dick Enersen

I have a new website for my old sailing films:
I'd also like to mention that the Paper Film Festival has been renamed for Henry Breitrose and is in its 16th year.   Any alum with interest &/or $ is welcome to participate.