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2013 Documentary Film Alumni Newsletter


Jan Krawitz

We are looking forward to our spring quarter screenings of first-year and thesis work and hope to see some of you there.  I am thrilled to announce that my new documentary, Perfect Strangers, will be finished after a final sound mix on May 19!  It will premiere at the SFDocFest with three screenings. The first two will be at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco: Saturday, June 8 at 7 p.m. and Tuesday, June 11 at 7 p.m. and I will be present at both. The third screening is at the Rio Theater in Santa Cruz on June 23 at 5 p.m.  In other news, I was invited to attend NAB in April with a small delegation from the University Film and Video Association. We were invited to informative "whisper sessions" with some of the vendors. We were very sorry to see Kris move to "emeritus status" this year but were able to conduct a timely search to fill her position. The outcome has not yet been finalized, so we will hopefully have news to report in that area in the next newsletter.

Jamie Meltzer

Definitely the most exciting and life-changing news this past year is the arrival of my daughter Talia in October! It's been amazing watching her develop a personality and hit baby milestones. I expect she'll be crawling by the time this newsletter comes out. She enjoyed coming along to the Fall film screening (she slept through it, which is of course no comment on the quality of the films). On the film front I've worked with many former students on my newest film in progress, called Freedom Fighters, about a group of exonerated men in Dallas who start their own grassroots detective agency to look into other cases of wrongful conviction. Starting with Peter Jordan ('08) doing some amazing cinematography, I've worked with David Alvarado ('10) as a producer and cinematographer, John Kane ('08) editing the fundraising trailer, and lots of support from Emile Bokaer ('10), Jason Sussberg ('10) (who's wife Kate McLean is producing as well), among others! I expect the film will take at least another year to shoot, but its been an exciting project so far. My last film, Informant, should be in theaters this summer and fall. All I know right now is that it starts at the IFC Center in Manhattan for a week run, and then expands out to other cities after that (more info will be posted as it comes at Please check it out if it comes to your city!

Kristine Samuelson ('73)

It has been a busy year.  Tokyo Waka has been in over fifteen festivals in various locations around the world, so John and I have had the chance to travel with the film and present it at screenings.  Now the festival run is winding down, but we do have the great news that Film Forum in New York will do a theatrical premiere in New York late the summer.  We'll screen there for a week starting August 28th.  If you are in New YOrk, we'd love to see you and should be present for most of the run.  Next up for us will be a Co-Laboratory with the SF Dance Film Festival, Rainin Foundaton, and the SF Film Society. We are one of three filmmaker teams who will be matched with three chosen choreographers to do a week-long collaboration and production. The films will be shot at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program and then edited over a few days so that they all can premiere at the SF Dance Film Festival's closing night at the Embarcadero Cinema.  We're looking forward to seeing how this all works out.  In other news, I have moved to Emeritus status and will only be teaching in Fall quarters 2013 and 2014 before fully retiring. John and I have moved to Berkeley, where we love being able to walk everywhere, plant a huge garden, and work on developing our next film project.

Class of 2012

Laura Green

I can't believe it's already been a year! I am living and working in San Francisco, where I share studio space with Tijana Petrović ('12). I am so excited to be editing a feature documentary called True Son (working title) directed by Kevin Gordon ('11), and am having a blast working on the project with Emile Bokaer ('10). I have also been busy with freelance directing and editing projects, and I am in my first year as an instructor at the Art Institute of California - San Francisco (I love teaching!) Finally, my thesis film, Everybody's Business is currently a national finalist for the student academy awards.

Paul Meyers

Soon after graduation I had a chance to assist Jan Krawitz with her forthcoming feature Perfect Strangers, which was a great start to this first year after the program.  Since then I have been doing a variety of freelance projects in both the Bay Area and Washington, DC, while also getting my thesis film Bug People out into the world.
I've had the good fortune to attend a few festivals with the thesis film, including Big Sky Doc Fest where I screened with none other than Kris Samuelson & John Haptas' Tokyo Waka. Bug People also picked up the inaugural Programmers' Award at the Sebastopol Documentary Festival, where I gave my first speech and everything.  I'm told I killed. 
I recently finished up some writing for the San Francisco International Film Festival, doing a few catalog entries and an article for this the festival's 56th year.  As far as personal work, I am currently researching a probable feature-length project and also hoping to shoot a long-gestating short film over the summer with Paul Donatelli ('12).  Stay tuned...
Finally, I just relaunched my website after many delays--   It's a good place to see where my films are screening or simply get in touch.  I encourage alums on either coast to do so. 

Sara Mott

For the past 7 months I’ve been working as a contractor for the Facebook Stories project, helping Peter Jordan (’08) identify and develop leads for the video portion of the project.  An amazing highlight of that experience was traveling to Sweden with Tijana Petrović ('12) to shoot an upcoming video!  I also recently started another contract position with the production department at ITVS.  After years of working on ITVS co-productions from the independent filmmaker side of things, it’s fascinating to see the process from the other side.  Besides working with Facebook and ITVS, I’ve picked up a few freelance jobs here and there, and I’ve tentatively started work on my own film.  Overall, it’s been an incredible year working with lots of talented folks. I’m looking forward to future adventures in documentary film!

Adam James Smith

Soon after graduation from Stanford I moved out to Beijing, China. For the past year I've being working as a studio art teacher at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, and worked briefly at the National Academy of Painting. The main reason I came out to China was to pursue a feature documentary about the new city of Ordos in Inner Mongolia with Chinese filmmaker and NYU Tisch graduate, Song Ting. So far it has being a thoroughly rewarding experience collaborating with a Chinese filmmaker. We scouted for our film, The Land of Many Palaces, during November last year, and had our first production trip during the spring festival. We're excited to be one of the ten projects that were selected to pitch at the Sundance Documentary Summit in Beijing on May 16th. If you're interested in knowing more about our project, check out the interview we did for The Atlantic (there's a trailer there also).
Life in Beijing can be challenging at times, but also thrilling and surprising. I do miss everyone at Stanford very much, the campus, the endless sunshine, and having such wonderful classes everyday. I'll be forever appreciative of the education that I received at Stanford.

Class of 2011

Kevin Gordon

Things are going well in SF. I'm directing my first feature length project about a a 21-year old trying to save a desperate city. The film follows Michael Tubbs' campaign for city council in Stockton, California, the largest city in the US to go bankrupt. It has been an all Stanford production. Rory Fraser ('11) and Paul Donatelli ('12) were primary crew but Nick Berger ('08), Ryan Malloy ('11), and Tijana Petrović ('12) all helped in the field as well. Now Laura Green ('12) is editing with Emile Bokaer ('10) assisting. We hope to have it out early next year! While that is in post, I've also started shooting a new project inside the world of lucha libre and begun tip toeing into commercial directing.
Most importantly, this past February the class of 2011 had a reunion at the lovely wedding of Jenni Nelson ('11). Congrats to Jenni and Christian!

Mina T. Son

Hello, all! Sara Newens ('11) and I are still joined at the hip and are now in post-production on Top Spin, our first feature-length documentary about teenagers coming of age in the world of competitive ping pong. We are happy to report we recently finished our very, very rough cut and will be showing it as part of the Film Independent Documentary Lab! Lots more work to do, but we are finishing the film this year, no matter what. Other great news, I was in Boston last month for the CPB/PBS Producers Academy (along with David Alvarado ('10)), following in the footsteps of fellow alums Sally Rubin ('04) and Kathy Huang ('06)

Class of 2010

Emile Bokaer

So far so good in 2013!  Dogpatch Films is in production on our third set of Episodes for the 20 Under 20 Documentary Series (  We're also excited about our new website:  Currently I'm doing AE work on a feature edit, together with editor Laura Green ('12) and director Kevin Gordon ('11).  It's fun, and I am learning a lot, which for me always feels like one of the best parts of documentary work.  I remain committed to the idea of helping complete The Return of Elder Pingree, and to create a film about my dad's filmmaking.  Not much progress on these projects lately, but I'm sure I will get there.  Slowly but surely…

Theo Rigby

This past year has been incredibly busy, challenging, and rewarding.  I've taken the plunge into the interactive/transmedia world and at some point in the last four months, my new project, Immigrant Nation, completely took over my life.  The project is a series of short docs about immigration issues across the country, an online platform where you can tell your own immigrant story, and an engagement campaign to get communities and educators across the country to use the films/tools that we are creating.  It's been a roller coaster of a ride so far, and the learning curve has been more like a learning spike--especially because I have never made a series of short films, do not know how to build a website, and have never launched an engagement campaign of any kind. 
Since the concept of an interactive/transmedia project is somewhat new to the world of non-fiction filmmaking, I often spend a lot of time explaining exactly what I'm doing.  Common questions that I have to clarify are: "So, what's the film about?", "Wait, you're not making a feature film?", "So, how are you going to show that on PBS?"  Common responses by traditional film funders include: "Wow, that's a really interesting project.  I'm sorry, but we don't currently fund that."
All in all it's been a great year, and it has been inspiring to work closely with Jason Sussberg('10), Emile Bokaer ('10), and Anthony Weeks ('10) at Dogpatch Films, as well as share a creative space with Ryan Malloy ('11) and Nick Berger ('08) at Cat Trick Films.
Lastly, I have absolutely no idea what the next year of my life will be like as my wife Katina and I are super excited to meet our own very small future storyteller in early June.

Anthony Weeks

The last year has been a busy one, but I can't complain because I am doing work that I love. I'm still doing double duty as an independent illustrator and visual strategist and as a partner at Dogpatch Films with Emile Bokaer, Jason Sussberg, and Theo Rigby. Dogpatch Films (based in San Francisco) celebrated its 2nd anniversary in March 2013. We've had a productive year with a new website (, new episodes for the commissioned online doc series we've been doing for the 20 Under 20 fellowship of the Thiel Foundation (, and work for other organizations like the American Conservatory Theater and Facebook.
I had the great pleasure of working with Mike Attie ('09) to create some illustrations for a short educational film that Mike did for Seattle Children's Hospital. We're gearing up to partner again on another health-related film, and I'm thrilled to be able to parlay my illustration skills into a video-related collaboration. 
On the doc film front, I felt lucky to go to Cuba in 2012 for the Cerrando Distancias (Closing Distances) film program within the Muestra Jóven Film Festival in Havana. Cerrando Distancias is a collaboration between the Americas Media Initiative, the Museum of Modern Art (NY), and the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC). My film Housekeeping(2009) was part of the program. I enjoyed meeting filmmakers from Cuba and several other countries. It was an honor and privilege to be invited and to gain an insider perspective on the current state of the Cuban film industry. 
I'm looking forward to the next year! Between the illustration and documentary work, I am continually energized by the opportunity to learn how to be a storyteller. I am grateful!

Class of 2009

Nilima Abrams

I'm in India on a Fulbright Fellowship, teaching and filming until July. The film is about a couple that has taken in 40 impoverished children, raising them as their own, with a broad mix of cultural and spiritual practices. The older children are also making a film about their lives, and the road-side tent-villages where many grew up. I'm currently seeking post-prod funding and will be looking for an editor for next fall (location TBD). The final film will follow the "family" with footage starting in 2005.

Melanie Levy

It's been an exciting year with the highlights being working with the zen-warrior-like director Ross Kauffman on his excellent film in progress E-TEAM, a kindred spirit and fellow Stanford alumn Ferne Pearlstein ('94) on her beautiful film in progress The Last Laugh about humor and the holocaust, tackling 500 (and counting) hours of material from the beautiful verite doc in progress Kivalina People by first-time director and friend Gina Abatemarco about an Eskimo Village on the tip of Alaska. In between it all have been developing a short project of my own called The Republican and the Pink Pussycat about dancers and democracy in America today. My boutique production collective Whistle Film is growing with my producing partner Elif Alp I'm happy to report. And I should mention how very excited I am to be assisting our lovelyTanya Sleiman ('09) in casting NY voices for her feature-film 95 Lives
Thank you Mark for inspiring a moment of reprise to reflect on the year. It can be tricky at times to balance and juggle as we all know, to remain grounded in the transition times... always the things that keep you going though are the people here! On this note, I am personally interested in exploring ways that this powerful community might rally around creating more sustainable solutions for long-form independent documentary work. I find that myself and the colleagues I admire most often feel torn in these challenging economic times between commercial work and their own. I've always wondered (Briar [March ('11)] our conversation to be continued) if there were a way to form some sort of investment around our mutual accomplishments to buoy the work of each other. A financial pool of sorts. Essentially, I'm interested in learning if anyone has tried as much over the years, if others think this could be viable ... or have better ideas as to how to make/propose a viable solution. We have such an incredible community. It would be exciting to find a way to harness it... to contribute to creating a more sustainable documentary field. Excited to hear your thoughts everyone! Brainstorms welcome.

Charlene Music

Last year was very exciting and intense. I moved to Chicago for most of the year to work as a cinematographer on President Obama's re-election campaign. It was one of the hardest jobs I've ever had - quite literally a filmmaking bootcamp, very physically challenging! - yet each day I was inspired by the work and the great team of people I met, and in the aftermath, it's very rewarding to have worked on about 20 short films in 10 months!  For the first part of the year I mostly traveled the country documenting people's stories related to the Presedent's policies. Then once the President, Vice President, and First Lady started on the campaign trail, I traveled with them day in and day out (mostly the VP) documenting their efforts, from their rallies to off-the-record stops to meet people at schools, fire stations, and diners. Once we got the President elected in November, all efforts paid off and my work with the campaign ended. At the end of the year I edited a documentary film shot in Guatemala in collaboration with Mike Seely ('05) and Peter Jordan ('08). It's called Blessed Fruit of the Womb: a fight for reproductive rights, and follows the journey of two indigenous women who work in defiance of the church and state, striving to alleviate poverty and childhood malnutrition by providing families with access to contraceptive methods. I've started sending the film out to the festival circuit for consideration. 

Tanya Sleiman

I began teaching at Diablo Valley College in 2012: Film production, TV production, and Film Studies. In between summer and fall terms I travel to Sweden this August to present at the Visible Evidence conference in Sweden. My paper explores creative use of sound in experimental documentary media from the Middle East. I'm also on the Board of Directors for Golden Thread Productions, a Middle East theatre group in the Bay Area. Please let me know if you want to join me for a performance.
In new projects, I was happy to premiere my multi-channel sound and image installation based on materials I gathered in Havana in a group show in Los Angeles this April 2013.  It explores themes of stasis and motion, action and inaction, and has subtle humor as well. My ongoing first feature, a documentary on Helen Levitt, is moving full speed ahead, thanks to great support from the MFA community and beyond. I raised production funds on Kickstarter with the excellent support of Mina T. Son ('11) who shared her wisdom from prior campaigns. This year, Melanie Levy ('09) is helping coordinate sound materials with great gusto! I’m planning to complete production this year. Link to film is ( I continue to live in Palo Alto and will likely be near Stanford as my husband Phaedon Sinis, a Ph.D. student in computer graphics.  Whenever we are both in town, we love to attend MFA screenings and enjoy the wonderful work that continues to be created from the program.

Class of 2008

Peter Jordan

I'm in my 3rd year as a filmmaker at Facebook and this year, we finally released the Facebook Stories project, which includes six documentaries that I made about inspiring and unexpected ways people are using Facebook around the world –– for instance, Filipino school kids who were swimming 2km to school were gifted a boat because of a status update, a man in India lost his memory and rebuilt his life using the "People You May Know" feature, and a climber in Yosemite received support from his fans from a shear rock face at 2000ft. We'd love to work with alumni, so if you have story ideas, please contact me. I also created ads for some cool new products like Search and Home. And all of this stuff is finally on my redesigned website –– I also had the privilege of shooting much of the trailer for Jamie Meltzer's new film, Freedom Fighters, about a detective agency started by a group of exonerated Texans. And lastly, Charlene Music ('09) and I learned to dive and are now trying to find any good excuse to take our camera underwater.

John Kane

I've continued to specialize in documentary editing, and have had the good fortune to work on a number of interesting projects, often in collaboration with other Stanford alums. In recent months, I cut The Mayor - the second short for Theo Rigby ('10) and Kate McLean's Immigrant Nation transmedia project. In May and June, I will edit an episode of Faultlines - a half-hour investigative journalism program for Al Jazeera America.
In January, Mike Seely ('05) and I moved into a studio space in West Berkeley together with four other documentary filmmakers. It's wonderful to come into work every day with a community of talented and likeminded folks.

Class of 2006

Erin (Hudson) Schalk

My husband and I welcomed our first child, Maxwell, born on January 12.   I've been reveling in motherhood since then.  In film news, I completed Our Time is Now about rural New Mexico high school students and am excited to be partnering with New Mexico PBS to prepare it for broadcast and promotion with the CPB program, American Graduate.

Leigh Iacobucci

Now a long-time resident of Geneva, Switzerland (3.5 years), I have been enjoying a new chapter of my life, which includes wifedom, motherhood and speaking French. I've been employed as a video producer for the World Economic Forum for the past 2+ years, which actually gave me the stability I need to care for our son, Carter (never did I think I would appreciate a 9-5er). I plan on relaunching myself back into the freelance world later this year and am actively looking for the right project to jump into. Not as easy to find in Geneva as it was in NYC. :) One perk of being where I am: I am just about an hour from fellow grad, Jasmin Gordon ('06), who I am lucky enough to see regularly. Perhaps we will build a doc production empire over here...just after we're done wiping baby butts.

Revere La Noue

I continue to be amazed and awed by the accomplishments of my fellow Stanford Documentary Film Program alumni club “card” holders.  I think this is the most underrated club in American media.  As per usual I try to work the creative fringes.  This year, Biz and I co-produced our first child Marcelle Marie La Noue.  My other experimental project was a series of abstract photography on the city of Detroit, which was part of a group show exhibited at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.  The show hosted a record number 100,000 visitors in 2 weeks, but it was tempered by the dwindling attention span of an overwhelming number of people who opted to instagram my photographs rather than actually look at them.  I debuted a new show in my gallery featuring impressionistic paintings and prints inspired by Les Diables Bleus, a French fighting force who became famous for their renegade tactics and dapper uniforms in WWI.   The show was accompanied by a short documentary telling their origin story that I made entirely from my paintings and archival material gleaned from the internet.  I am extremely proud to be the Art Director and a Producer of In So Many Words, a stunning documentary with ties to all kinds of Stanford talent most notably directed by Elisabeth Haviland James ('04).    Please keep an eye on for upcoming shows and contact info, especially if you are interested in using fine art to enhance cinema. 

Ashley Tindall

It's been a busy couple of years shuttling between San Francisco, Los Angeles and North Carolina where my husband Bill is on the faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill ( and where I occasionally get to see new parents Revere La Noue ('06) and Elisabeth "Biz" Haviland James ('04). Last year I worked on two wildly different films: Crossfire Hurricane, HBO's Rolling Stones 50th anniversary doc, and Otter 501, a narrative/documentary hybrid film about the Monterey Bay Aquarium's sea otter rehabilitation program. This year, in between producing educational content for Sheryl Sandberg's LeanIn organization and Stanford's Clayman Institute for Gender Research Voice & Influence program, I am directing an online video course on income inequality with Stanford's Poverty and Inequality Center and post-producing for James Redford's Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia. I am also in my second year of filming on 27 Months, a documentary following three Peace Corps volunteers through their service in Azerbaijan, Liberia and the Philippines. It's been an incredible experience getting to know the three volunteers and these three amazing countries. If anyone needs producing advice for these places, definitely ask me! After a year of being a one-woman band, I recently hired Clare Major, a Berkeley J-school grad and former Peace Corps volunteer, to shoot and am so thrilled with her work and the freedom I have to step away from the camera! But, I haven't forgotten my Stanford roots and have been able to work with Duygu Eruçman ('12), Paul Donatelli ('12), John Kane ('08) and Mike Seely ('05) this past year. I'm so glad there is so much talent in the Bay Area and I hope I get to work with more of you in the coming year.

Class of 2005

Serena Down

I've been doing more teaching this year at our local PBS affiliate KCTS's new 9 media lab, at the Seattle Film Institute, and for a local high school.  It has been a pleasure to work with enthusiastic students and am constantly learning more about documentary through their work.  I'm putting that all on hold with a new gig as a Post Production Supervisor for a TLC series about women homicide detectives.  I look forward to seeing any alumni that may pass through Seattle, so please keep in touch!

Leah Wolchok

Davina (Pardo ('05)) and I have had a great year working on Very Semi-Serious, our feature documentary about the personalities and culture surrounding New Yorker cartoons.  We've been fortunate to collaborate with some fantastic filmmakers, including cinematographer Kirsten Johnson, sound recordist Judy Karp ('82), Liam Dalzell ('04) and Kathy Huang ('06).  It's been challenging not to laugh out loud while shooting some hilarious scenes in the New Yorker cartoon department, inside the cartoonists' studios, and everywhere in between.  We even shot a ping pong match between cartoon editor Bob Mankoff and puzzle master Will Shortz. The project was selected for the 2013 BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship, and it's a thrill to see Jan Krawitz in our workshops each month! We are launching a Kickstarter campaign in the next few weeks with some great cartoon swag. Can you tell we're having fun making this film?

Class of 2004

Carla Gutiérrez

Hello from Montclair NJ! Our family moved back to the East Coast 2 years ago and we’re loving it. Also I’ve been really enjoying work. Last year I edited Reportero, a film about journalists covering the drug war in Mexico. It played at Full Frame and IDFA and was broadcast on POV on January of this year. I also got my hands on the fun and provocative footage of Wonder Women! which I edited with the talented Melanie Levy (’09). It premiered at SXSW and had an April broadcast on Independent Lens. Currently I’m working on a PBS 2 hour series about Latino high school students with director Bernardo Ruiz. It’s part of CPB’s American Graduate initiative and will be a special presentation of Independent Lens in the fall of this year.  On the home front my two little boys are growing. Diego is 6 and Pablo is 3 and they’re always causing havoc playing Spider-Man.

Sally Rubin

I'm happy to be writing in for yet another newsletter! Since my last check in I have begun work full time at Chapman University's Dodge College in Orange County, teaching documentary film and trying to give Stanford a run for its money. I'm about to finish up a documentary called Life on the Line, a film about a young Mexican girl who lives on the other side of the US/Mexico border and crosses the line each day to go to school in the US. I am developing a film about religious outwear, currently entitled Untying Faith, and enjoying life here in the hills of east LA. I'm also recently married/committed to my partner Meehan Rasch, and appellate attorney and budding filmmaker herself, and happy to continue meeting more Stanford alums as you come through LA. All the best to everyone. 

Class of 2003

Elisabeth Haviland James

What a year!  Most exciting was the arrival of our finest production to date, Marcelle Marie La Noue, born 12/10/2012, child of Revere La Noue ('06) and me, and perhaps the best documented baby on the planet.  She came into the world a few weeks early, on the day the sound mix was supposed to start for my new film, In So Many Words  - obviously wanting to sit in on the session.  Ultimately we needed to make a mad dash for the finish line to meet the deadline for our world premiere at Full Frame, but it was entirely worth it.  In So Many Words is my feature directing debut, and it was Art Directed and Produced by Revere, and shot by Andreas Burgess (husband of Sadia Shepard ('00)).  The Loving Story continues to have a healthy screening and distribution life, and I was recently awarded a Peabody for my work on the film.  In addition to adjusting to the demands of motherhood, I am currently editing a feature doc. on tennis star Althea Gibson, and in development on a narrative feature based on the incredible life of a famous children's author. This summer, Revere and I will be teaching filmmaking at the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute.

Mark Rinehart

Been a while since I updated on this newsletter!   So here it goes...  Been in LA for over 3 years now.  Recently produced a feature documentary called Decoding Deepak (an around-the-world travel adventure that explored the relationship between Deepak Chopra and his son Gotham Chopra).  The film premiered and SXSW and can now be seen on Netflix and Itunes.  I immediately jumped into producing another feature tentatively called Days of Rage.  The film profiles a nineteen year old in Chicago who is actively coordinating major parts of the Syrian revolution (all from her laptop in a  bedroom in suburban Chicago).   We also hired camera people in Damascus to document the situation on the ground.  Film goes into finishing in May.   I also executive produced an original You Tube Channel called The Chopra Well(featuring the Deepak Chopra).   The channel had over nine original web series includingUrban Yogis featuring Russell Brand, Russell Simmons, and Moby). The Chopra Well was produced at Alloy Digital/Generate Studios in Los Angeles.  Recently, I was hired as a showrunner for a one hour Travel Channel special called Arctic Man: Alaska Spring Break.  Crazy week up in Alaska but we got amazing material.  The show will probably premiere sometime in July.    I also started up a production collective with 6 others called The Hacienda.  Our offices are at 8295 Sunset right across from the Hollywood Standard hotel.   Immaculate recording facilities, two editors, a sound mixer, a composer, and two producer/directors all under one roof!  Hit me up if you have any production needs in LA!  The place is also a great place to finish a film and I can get you great rates!  Hope you are all well!

Class of 2002

Matthew Black

This past year my wife Amanda and I shut the doors on our little art gallery Stolen & Escaped in downtown Salt Lake City. We had a great time championing emerging artists and experimental work from more established artists in Utah, but decided it was time to pursue other projects.
The Cyclist, a narrative feature about amateur bike racing on which I served as editor and post-production supervisor got picked up by Image Entertainment this year. It’s now available on Amazon and will soon hit the VOD world.
Currently, I’m producing and editing a feature doc called Art & Belief. The film follows a group of Mormon artists who formed an art collective in the late 1960s for the purpose of making serious religious art, and the issues that arose when their art came into conflict with their faith (

Thomas Burns

I continue to work as a Director of Photography on both scripted and unscripted material in Los Angeles, and as a producer/director of documentary content. I recently produced a short documentary for the organization Design Can Do about their recent social innovation work in South Africa. Many thanks to Stanford classmates David Kneebone ('02) and Michelle Cabalu Zaslav ('02) for their feedback, and to Jan Krawitz for her sage advice during post-production.
I was also very honored to be invited to teach documentary production to graduate and undergraduate students at UCLA's School of Theater, Film, and Television this quarter. There is considerable and growing interest in documentary among the graduate film students there and I look forward to helping grow the existing curriculum to meet this demand. It's wonderful to be back in the classroom.
In other news, I continue to serve on the board of directors for the Los Angeles chapter of the Fulbright Alumni Association. As the board's motion picture industry liaison I have proposed broad new initiatives to showcase film work by US and visiting Fulbrighters, much of which is documentary in nature. In Fall 2013 we will host a day-long enrichment seminar for Fulbrighter and Fulbright alumni filmmakers in Los Angeles, and the event promises to be an inspiring day. Happy to chat with any doc program students or alumni interested in the US Fulbright Program.

Class of 2001

Porter Gale 

My first book called Your Network Is Your Net Worth is being released on June 4th by a division of Simon & Schuster. For more info see I also advise half a dozen start-ups and a chef named Michael Mina. Life continues to be an adventure and my daughter, Rylee, is eleven and an avid bookworm and basketball player. 

Class of 2000

Hope Hall

I'm wrapping up my second year of being the Official Videographer at the White House. It still feels like a dream, but I think it's real, somehow. Let me know if you come to DC, and if you're interested in seeing what we're churning out at the Office of Digital Strategy, check  Best, hope

Kristen Nutile

I'm excited to announce an update about two films I had the pleasure of editing.  Every Day Is a Holiday directed by Theresa Loong, will be screening at the Montclair Film Festival in May 2013. Unfinished Spaces, directed by Alysa Nahmias and Benjamin Murray, has been screening as part of Sundance Film Forward.  It is being released on iTunes and will be broadcast on HBO Latin America.  
Sally Gross - The Pleasure of Stillness, a film I made with Albert Maysles and Tanja Meding, was screened at the Dallas Video Film Festival in September. 
And, I had a wonderful time hanging out and watching documentaries with Anne Alvergue ('00), Purcell Carson ('00) and Gabriel Rhodes ('00), Elisabeth Haviland James ('03)and Revere La Noue ('06) at Full Frame this year!

Class of 1999

Vanessa Warheit

I moved back to Palo Alto last spring, and life has been a whirlwind ever since! I produced and directed some films for Stanford's Vice Provost for Student Affairs (with help from our own Jenni Nelson ('11), among others). I gave a climate reality presentation at the SF Lycee and then got my students to create videos about one thing they could do to help stop climate change. (One of their films, I'm proud to report, made it into the SF Clear the Air film festival!) I became the filmmaker-in-residence with the Cool City Challenge, which has been chosen as a finalist in this year's Sustainable Silicon Valley solutions forum. I was invited to present my film The Insular Empire at a conference in Munich on "Transpacific Americas" - amazing how our films can just keep on enthralling people long after we stop thinking about them! - and I'm about to start work on a new film of my own, a short for kids about carbon pollution called Worse Than Poo.

Class of 1997

Yuriko Gamo Romer

This last year has been a very busy year for Mrs. Judo since our World Premiere at the Castro Theater for the 2012 SF Int Asian American Film Festival. Sadly Keiko Fukuda, the Mrs. Judo, passed away in February of this year. She was 99 years old, just two months shy of her 100th birthday. Selfishly we'd hoped to celebrate her 100th, but she live a long and wonderful life and died peacefully in her sleep. (What more can we all hope for?) The film has been to over fifteen festivals around the country as well as many special screenings. Most recently I was in Moscow for an international sport film festival where we were treated like royalty, hosted by the festival and got to stay in a 5-star hotel! (A rare moment for a documentary filmmaker!) We were also thrilled to be awarded the Best Documentary Award at a gala event complete with music and dance performances. This year I will be fulfilling a Cal Humanities public engagement grant, creating a community screening "kit" and taking the film around California. I hope by this time next year I'll be talking about my new project. On the home front Bill and I still live in San Francisco with Niko, who is now a freshman in high school, and Mohawk our goofball dog. Hope you are all well!

Johnny Symons

As I write this, I'm on the plane to the Philippines, where I'll be for the next 3 weeks wrapping up production on Out Run, a feature documentary about the world's only LGBT political party and its historic campaign for Congressional office. We have development funding from ITVS, Tribeca, and Sundance, and are hoping to finish post sometime next year. Meanwhile, I landed a tenure-track Assistant Professor job teaching documentary production in the Cinema Dept at San Francisco State. I start this fall. Sadly this means I will no longer be teaching on an adjunct basis at Stanford, but I'm excited about the opportunity to help build another strong Bay Area documentary program, and I'm looking forward to future collaborations with all the wonderful faculty and students at Stanford.

Class of 1995

Nancy Kates

I am enjoying collaborating with Rachel Antell ('01), co-producer and John Haptas, ie Mr. Kristine Samuelson, editor, on Regarding Susan Sontag, which has been picked up for broadcast by HBO. We hope to complete the film by the end of 2013. It has been lovely to see Kris more frequently, during this process. Regards to all my Stanford friends.

Cynthia Wade

My HBO documentary Mondays at Racine, for which I was Director, Producer, and Co-Camera, was nominated for an Oscar.  It won five festival awards in 2012. My Prime-Time Sesame Street Special Growing Hope Against Hunger won an Emmy.  I was Documentary Director. My film Wrestling the Monster for Salix Pharmaceuticals about a rare liver disease is on the festival circuit.

Class of 1992

Eva Ilona Brzeski

I am currently editing the documentary feature Twitch, about an 18 year old girl undergoing genetic testing for Huntington's Disease, the illness that killed her mother. In between painting, writing and studying and teaching Dharma & meditation in San Francisco, I am also doing editorial consulting and  working on my own project Kindness: the Movie.

Class of 1991

Berry Minott

"A cure for Alzheimer's.  A Noble Prize.  One a remote islands a high stakes battle to solve a medical mystery unfolds."
That is the tagline for my recent film, The Illness and the Odyssey which features Dr. Oliver Sacks. It's based on one of his books which recounts a medical mystery on the island of Guam. For decades, scientists from around the world have battled each other to discover what causes a neurological disease found on Guam.  The stakes are high because if they can solve the puzzle, a possibility for a cure for Alzheimer's would be revealed.
It has received an Award for Excellence from the International Film Festival of Health, Environment and Health and will be screened in Jakarta.  It has been invited to the Guam International Film Festival and the Cinema by the Bay Film Festival in San Francisco. Later in the year, it will be screened at the Roxie Theater. 

Stephen M. Wessells

I produce and direct films/videos for web, television, DVD and blu-ray for the U.S. Geological Survey.  USGS is a science agency within the US Department of the Interior.  This past year I went to the Arctic and filmed a cool program about tracking Pacific Walrus.  This winter I finished 6 shorts for the web called Volcano Web Shorts #1-6.  Also this winter, I finished a widely viewed short film Lake Mead: Clear and Vital.  Yet another program that I finished last Fall Living with Fire was shot on a Red One camera.  It will air throughout southern California in early summer on CBS affiliates.  This one includes extraordinary shots of Richard M. Nixon on his roof soaking it down in the face of the 1961 Bel Air fire.  I've cultivated a tight, effective group of three shooters, two editors and one great writer to deliver what are becoming some widely viewed science themed productions.  That's why i attended the Stanford Documentary Film Program over 20 years ago.  Things have worked out very well.  Here are some links.
Tracking Pacific Walrus: Expedition to the Shrinking Chukchi Sea Ice
Lake Mead: Clear and Vital
The Heat is On: Desert Tortoises and Survival (Full video)

Class of 1988

Roxanne Frias

I was a graduate student at Stanford in Film Production, and a T.A. For the graduate film program in 1980-1982.  Soon after graduating I left for Paris where I have been working, for the past 25 years as a documentary filmmaker, journalist and sometimes television presenter for French Public Television. 
Since 2002 I have been offering a comparative media and film internship/class to the Stanford Abroad Students who come to Paris to study. My workshop is based on the idea  that by studying French television and film, one can also understand French society and culture, and by comparison, the students also learn a lot about their own media and society back home. 
Last year, I produced and directed for La Chaîne Parlementaire, the top Political Broadcaster in France, a one-hour long documenatary, called Back To Chicago. My film travels to different neighborhoods of Chicago to illustrate the successes and failures of Obama’s first term as president. Attached here is the press invitation for the French media  avant-première, prior to my documentary’s French broadcast last year, just before the November elections.

Pam Walton

I am still editing the catalog for New Day Films and loving it and New Day, a truly extraordinary group of independent filmmakers. I'm working on Triptych: 3 Women Making Artabout 3 older women (closing in on 70) who have given their entire adult lives to art.
Old age becomes more and more fascinating as you grow old! Ruth (Carranza) ('87) and I have a new pug baby. Ruby is 5 months old and a total terror. And we are eagerly awaiting the Supreme Court's decision to declare Prop. 8 unconstitutional and to strike down DOMA. YES!

Class of 1987

Ruth Carranza

I completed Nanotechnology: The World Beyond Micro, the second film for my National Science Foundation grant to complete two films on emerging technologies. The first is MEMS: Making Micro Machines.
This winter we moved my office space into our newly renovated garage that's now "Ruth's office." I love it! And is revving up for the next project: an update of the Silicon Run Series, which is 20 years old now and still selling to industry and academia even though I often get requests to update it. 

Class of 1985

Andrea Butter

"Aloha from Maui" where I spend an increasing amount of time these days, managing my company Maui by Design  and enjoying working from here more than from most other parts of the world. I still travel a lot for the company, most recently to the "middle of nowhere" in region in northern China that is both agricultural and a hub for steel production.  I've been going to the same small town regularly over the course of the past 5 years, and am always blown away by the massive amount of changes I see at every level.  One should have put a photo camera into that town, or probably any other small rural town in China, and done some time lapse sequence - I can't imagine faster change anywhere else in the world.  
My only way to exercise my creative urges - which are surely less strong than those of all of you who have stayed in film! - these days is in designing of new products, or new images for my products, specifically my line of Hawaiian ornaments.  (You can judge them for yourself at  
Since I still live very close to Stanford (when I am not traveling or in Maui), I have the pleasure of seeing the current student's films when they get shown - I recommend those evenings highly to anyone who can make it!, as well as seeing Lucy Ostrander's (my classmate), and Don Seller's and Irv Drasnin's (my professor) movie The Revolutionary.  

Lauren Lazin

In the past year I received three Emmy Nominations: for Soul Train: The Hippest Trip in America (VH1, Daytime Emmy), President Obama’s Race to the Top Commencement Challenge (for MTV2, News and Documentary) and for Style Exposed: Sperm Donor (Style Network, Daytime Emmy).  I spent most of the year directing and show-running Newlyweds: The First Year for Bravo—it debuts May 6th and is a unique mix of a documentary and reality series.  
Advice to current students: keep your skills fresh, be nice to everyone you meet in the business (you will work with them all at some point) and learn to reinvent yourself!
Was totally thrilled to commemorate Professor Ron Alexander’s 90th birthday this year—he is the heart and soul of so much of this beloved program of ours!

Class of 1982

Anne Makepeace

I was so exhausted by all the outreach with my last film, We Still Live Here, that I was seriously thinking of retiring or at least slowing down.  Famous last words - suddenly I'm busier than I have ever been.  I'm still promoting We Still Live Here, in fact I'll be screening it at Stanford on May 30th as part of the United Nations Association's CAMERA AS WITNESS series, along with a 2003 film I produced for American Masters in 2003 called Robert Capa in Love and War. I hope some of you can come. From there I'm headed up to the Mendocino Film Festival, really looking forward to seeing so many old friends there.   Meanwhile, I'm developing at least three other projects, feeling quite overwhelmed but also glad to be back in the fray.  As I write, I'm getting ready to fly to California to film for a week with Abby Abinanti, Chief Judge of the Yurok Tribe, for a doc about the California Tribal Justice system.  I'm also working on a documentary about visionary Kenyan fourth-wave feminist artist Wangechi Mutu.  I've also been trying to raise funds (so far unsuccessfully) for another doc about madness and recovery, and talking to Jane Fonda about doing a film about her life.  It's a crazy but very engaging time, reminding me of those days in film school more than three decades ago when I felt deliriously in over my head.  (Note that my latest newsletters are on my website at  I was also very glad to see The Revolutionary, a great new documentary by Don Sellers, Lucy Ostrander, and Irv Drasnin, at the Quad in New York last week - HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to them! - catch it if you can.

Kirby Walker

I am finishing a feature documentary in May called Toxic Hot Seat that I Produced and Directed with James Redford.  It will be broadcast on HBO in the Fall 2013. The film is about toxic flame retardant chemicals used in furniture and baby products, and the fight to reform the regulations in California and nationally.

Class of 1973

Judy Irving

Do pelicans dream? How well can humans “know” a wild animal? Pelican Dreams production and editing continue (see website for details). Principal photography is now complete, while editing and fundraising are on-going, with a projected release date next spring. Over the past year we’ve shot sequences from Baja Mexico to the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest, and have also been editing and screening rough cuts, soliciting feedback so the film will work for a general audience. Please send pelican stories, videos, photos, and/or funding for this nonprofit movie our way: 

Class of 1968

Patricia Edgar

I Chair the World Summit on Media for Children Foundation ( which runs international Summits each 3-4 years.  The next Summit will be in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in September 2014.  For those interested in children’s media this is the Forum for them.  2000 people will be present.  In September my new book In Praise of Ageing will be published by Text publishing.