Open Society: Bringing Justice to Health

“Bringing Justice to Health” is a series of four films for the Open Society Foundations addressing the need for legal access and empowerment in the health sector. Increased access to legal aid can often lead to better health outcomes for patients, especially those in vulnerable communities. This series looks at four aspects: Palliative Care in Kenya, HIV and AIDS in Uganda, Roma in Macedonia, and Drug users in Russia. Each story was shot by a Panos Pictures photographer and edited by independent producer Andrew Hida.

My role:
Producer, director: Finding and pre-interviewing characters, writing story treatments, planning itineraries and travel, writing interview questions, giving direction during filming, working closely with editor to iterate and finalize stories.

Mercy Owiti is a palliative care nurse in Nyeri, Kenya. But caring for patients at the end of life often means more than just pain relief. That’s why the Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association began training health care providers, like Mercy, to become paralegals.

Camera and sound: Sven Torfinn/Panos Pictures
Editing: Andrew Hida
Produced by Lauren Frohne and Sebastian Krueger

William Mulindwa is a teacher by profession. He is living with HIV. He also works as a paralegal for UGANET, a grantee of the Open Society Foundations that has trained more than 100 paralegals on basic principles of law enforcement, case assessment, conflict resolution, mediation, and negotiation. Paralegals like Mulindwa are informing people living with HIV about their rights, empowering people to engage in community activism and performing simple legal acts like preparing a will. They are essential to improving outcomes for people living with HIV and AIDS.

Camera and sound: Sven Torfinn/Panos Pictures
Editing: Andrew Hida
Produced by Lauren Frohne and Sebastian Krueger

Romina is a paralegal providing her community in Macedonia with legal advice to help access better health care. Today Roma are the largest—around 12 million people—and most disadvantaged ethnic minority in Europe. In 2003, a United Nations report provided, for the first time, robust statistical evidence on the extent of the challenges faced by Roma, including illiteracy, infant mortality, unemployment and segregation in education. Hunger and malnutrition, squalid housing without plumbing or sanitation, substandard health care, and other factors mean Roma have the shortest life expectancy in Europe. Paralegals like Romina are helping to improve the conditions and health of their communities.

Photography: Björn Steinz/Panos Pictures
Sound recording: Dragan Milojevic
Video editing: Andrew Hida
Produced by Lauren Frohne and Sebastian Krueger

Russia is home to the world’s fastest-growing HIV epidemic. Driven by injection drug use, it is now becoming generalized. A zero-tolerance policy toward drug use in the country bans harm reduction tools and treatment. For many drug users, the only choice is to quit drugs entirely or go to prison. Outreach workers like Max supply clean needles and health information. Now, with the help of an online network, Max, a former intravenous drug user, also provides legal advice to help people access treatment and overcome abuses in the justice system.

Camera and sound: Piotr Malecki/Panos Pictures
Additional camera: Guy Martin/Panos Pictures
Editing: Andrew Hida
Produced by Lauren Frohne and Sebastian Krueger

Coaching NPPA Multimedia Immersion 2014

Check out this nice article Seth Gitner wrote in the current issue of NPPA’s NewsPhotographer magazine about Al Tielemans’ experience at this year’s workshop. Al was one of my students this year and it was such a pleasure to work with him.

I was fortunate enough to be invited back to coach at the NPPA Multimedia Immersion workshop again this year, now my second time coaching the workshop, May 11-18. I really love this workshop for a lot of reasons, but mostly because of the amazing kinship and bond everyone develops by the end of the week. The workshop is all about opening yourself up to learn new skills, being vulnerable, and supporting one another. It’s also a crazy busy week full of seminars and practice and shooting and editing and staying up all night to finish on Friday night, in time for the community screening on Saturday. That lack of sleep and delirium might also contribute to the overwhelming gratefulness and positivity at the end of the week.

The interesting, and probably most challenging, part of Immersion is that everyone starts from zero. People come in with varying experience with video (from a lot to never using a camera before except for their iPhone), so we start at the very beginning. And by the end of the week, every single one of the 40 participants publishes a story. So we see some major transformations over the week. It’s incredible. And exhausting. But so worth it.

This year, I was paired up to coach with Jeff Bradbury from SUNY-Oswego in upstate New York. We had four students: a commercial photographer who specializes in hospitality and food, a former magazine director of photography who recently launched his own production business, a web editor for the Newhouse School website, and a longtime shooter for Sports Illustrated. It was a group with varying skill sets and experience. And yes, I did stay up until 4am again helping the last of them finish.

While we typically don’t come out with award-winning masterpieces from this workshop, I can say that the skills and experience the participants gain and the amazing network of new colleagues and friends we all build — coaches and participants alike — throughout the week is really worth it.

Here are their stories as they premiered at the end of the workshop:

Open Society: Voices from Europe’s Working Class

Western Europe has undergone significant transformation over the past 40 years. Major manufacturing has given way to service industries, while the provisions of the welfare state have been rolled back. Debates about marginalization or inequality in Europe tend to center on its minority populations. But research by Open Society found that the majority in an economically deprived community could also be marginalized and victims of inequality -— in different ways, but with many of the same results.


  • Producer, story development, pre-production
  • Video editor for a total of 12 videos including an explainer on the issue

This multimedia project aimed to capture the voices of those in marginalized native or white working class communities in Manchester and Amsterdam who grapple with inequality, disenfranchisement and stereotypes in their daily lives.

Because of the sensitive nature of the project and the often negative portrayal of these communities in local media, access to the subjects was tough and limited. To solve this, we aimed to capture “video portraits” — short videos under two minutes that captured a sense of the person and focused on only one or two issues, rather than telling the subject’s entire story. The video portraits were filmed by Adam Patterson of Panos Pictures based out of Belfast, Ireland. Adam worked hard to find subjects in the communities, interview and make portraits of each participant. Below is a selection from the series.

Higher Blackley, Manchester: Hayley Courtney

Blauwe Zand, Amsterdam: Hennier Brouwer

Higher Blackley, Manchester: Jo Courtney


See the rest of the Manchester portraits here
See the rest of the Amsterdam portraits here.

At Open Society: An Interview Series

“At Open Society” is a video series highlighting the people and ideas that are inspiring Open Society’s work and changing the world. Seeking to make the most of the myriad leaders, influencers, researchers and advocates who come through our building in New York, I worked with my colleagues in the Communications office to develop an interview series with a look and feel of its own. In it, we aimed to explore new ideas and perspectives in a highly shareable package. It provides a platform for a diversity of voices and topics as well as a constant flow of video content for Open Society Voices posts. For each video in the series, we work through how to package, write headlines and provide content for optimal shareability on social media platforms.

Series development, interviewer, videographer, sound recordist, and editor.
I also work with our lead copywriter to write accompanying blog posts for most of the videos in the series.

Why Do People Stereotype Black Men? Ask Your Brain. – Alexis McGill Johnson At Open Society

Torture: It Can Happen Anywhere – Juan Mendez At Open Society

A Young Filmmaker Shares His Past to Overcome It – Richard Memminger At Open Society

A Freedom You Can’t Take for Granted – Novelist A.M. Homes At Open Society

For Roma Families, a Racist Myth Returns with a Vengeance – Jim Goldston At Open Society

A Modern-Day Robin Hood Takes Aim at Poverty – David Hillman At Open Society
The Tool for Success Every Student Should Have – Jake Hayman At Open Society

The Roma and Open Society

This is an explainer video for the Open Society Foundations which describes the issues and work we do within Roma communities throughout Europe. I traveled to two different Roma settlements in Slovakia in November 2012 to shoot the documentary-style video used in this film.

(Slovakia footage only) Videographer, field producer and interviewer

In-field camera and sound: Lauren Frohne
Studio interviews: Wondros
Editing: Wondros

(If interested, contact me for a longer, not-yet-published video story about the Roma community in Modava nad Bodvou, Slovakia)

The Boston Globe: Bus 19 – The Way Up

(Boston Globe) Bus 19: Life on the Line – George and Johnny Huynh want a better life – and they believe they can get it through school. They have to. It’s the only thing in their control. Part of The Boston Globe’s Bus 19: Life on the Line series, in which a team of Globe reporters and photographers is traveling the route of Bus 19, chronicling the little-known rhythms of life in a part of the city that engages in the struggle each day.

Videographer, editor, reporter


(Boston Globe) Iris Soares visits up to five food pantries a week to get enough food to feed her family. After falling at her job in a meat processing factory five years ago, Iris can no longer work and does not receive food stamps. Video by Lauren Frohne / Boston Globe Staff; Edited by Dina Rudick and Lauren Frohne / Boston Globe Staff


The Boston Globe: A Place to Grow

From her home in Newton, Mass., Filis Casey has traveled the world, lifting children out of the shadows and into adoptive homes. She has never seen anything like the problems plaguing Haiti, where the overwhelming misery can easily make an orphan’s plight invisible. But in the town of Kenscoff, buoyed by money from Casey’s foundation, a new orphanage is rising a few hundred yards from where children dwell amid a cluster of dusty buildings with leaking roofs and unfinished walls.

Videographer, editor, reporter

Camera and sound: Lauren Frohne
Photography and reporting: Suzanne Kreiter
Reporting: Brian MacQuarrie

Featured on The Boston Globe June 24, 2012.

Converse: In the studio with Flatbush Zombies & Trash Talk

Converse hired Jessey Dearing and me to take over a series of short “In the Studio” films to accompany the release of the “CONS EP VOL. 1” compilation, which pairs different Converse Rubber Tracks artists to collaborate on songs for the album. We produced the shoot from beginning to end. The song in this video “97.92” is produced by Garrett Stevenson of Trash Talk, with lyrics and vocals by Flatbush Zombies. The track was recorded at Converse Rubber Tracks in Brooklyn, NY, and we interviewed the artists and filmed with them in the studio while they made it. Published 2/17/2014

Producer, pre-production, interviewer, studio videographer, editor, animations assistant

Producers: Lauren Frohne and Jessey Dearing
Director of photography and animator: Jessey Dearing
Videographer and editor: Lauren Frohne
Sound recordist: Chris Schneider
Production assistant: Andrew Hida
Illustrator: Benamin

Similarly for Converse Rubber Tracks, this music video was commissioned by Converse for their Rubber Tracks series and produced by my friend and fellow tar heel Sarah Riazati. Our friend Ali Cengiz, also a UNC alum, ran the main camera — a Red Epic — and I was secondary camera angles throughout, shooting with the Canon 5D MarkIII. We shot the whole video in various areas of the amazing former church/current art space Bushwick Church, all in one day very long day. The whole crew was comprised mostly of UNC graduates and was an amazing opportunity for us all to collaborate. I worked with the small pre-production crew to plan out the scense, lighting and camera work in advance of the shoot.

Second camera operator, Pre-production crew

Director: Sarah Riazati
Producer: KFBproductions (Kimberly Sanchez)
Editor: Caitlyn Greene
Effects & Animations: Sarah Riazati
Graphic Designer: Suede Jury
Assistant Director: Anna Feagan
Director of Photography: Ali Cengiz
Additional Camera: Lauren Frohne
Gaffer: Nick Perron-Siegel
Grips: Jessey Dearing, Cath Spangler
Makeup & Styling: Micah Piven
Production Assistants: Blair Mikels, Gabe Turner
Cast: Alaysia Graves, Kendra Schafyya, Corey Washington, Vanessa Williams

Getting memed, upworthied, buzzfed, going viral… two years later…

The year 2013 was a definite reminder that stories published on the internet never die. It’s a new era in how news stories are seen and shared. Social capital is everything. Sometimes stories make the moderate, immediate splash within their newscycle. Sometimes the internet only catches on months, or even years, after it was originally published — typically because of new socially-amped sites like Upworthy and ViralNova. Sometimes, because of an update and real-time sharing tools, they resurge two years later to the open arms of the inspiration-hungry Twitter masses and a whole new audience is born.

The latter happened in the case of a story I worked on with reporter Billy Baker for The Boston Globe in December 2011 called Bus 19: The Way Up. It documents the experience of two teenaged brothers. Born to Vietnamese refugees, they were not only surviving in deep poverty and in a dangerous neighborhood, but also thriving in the top high school in Boston. They were steadfast on a path to success because of their own willpower and the help of some dedicated friends and mentors.

A few weeks ago on December 16, I got a text message from Billy: “George just got accepted into Yale. I can’t stop crying.” Tears. Lots of them.

On Twitter, he started rehashing his experience with the story and where it went once he published it. It was an open, genuine and moving account of just selfless human interest. Billy had a lot of followers then (he is known for finding the most interesting, bizarre, extreme and fringe stories in the newsroom), and he gained a lot more as his series of tweets was retweeted, favorited and Storified by thousands of people.

He linked to the story and the video. It was incredible how much it spread over the course of one evening.

The original story, when it was published two years ago, was met with an outpouring of support and donations to the boys and the youth center from the community in Boston. If I remember correctly, it only ran in its entirety on the subscription-based, rather than the freely accessible, so the audience was local and small. We thought it made a huge splash. The video had about 500-600 views, which was good in terms of our typical numbers.

By the middle of that week — December 18 or so — two years after the story was originally published on YouTube, the video had more than 80,000 views.

It’s really exciting. Their update and an interview, along with pieces from my video story, ran on the NBC Nightly News. People around the world learned their story, congratulated them, felt inspired and wanted to help them even more. It was amazing and humbling and I’m glad I was able to make a cameo in their lives so I could share in the joy of this moment with them.

But the other half of all this — as a content creator/filmmaker/journalist — is a humbling confrontation with the fact that every bit of content you put out there will live on forever. So you better be proud of every molecule of it. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you should feel confident that you put everything you could into it. No regrets.

I will admit that I am slightly self-conscious about this video being so widely watched two years after I made it. Two years is a lot of time in an industry undergoing such rapid change. I was also the rookie at The Globe (I feel like I’m a rookie still now). It was a tough story that I had two weeks to work on (which was, in fact, a luxury at the time, the blessing of TWO FULL WEEKS in the world of a daily newspaper!). The reporter spent two months reporting it. There are parts I definitely could have shot better. Maybe I should have spent more time, could I have probed in the interview more, could I have dug deeper? I know I tiptoed a little through the documentation because these were high school kids, grappling with big issues, and trying desperately not to draw attention to themselves while they got through it. And there I was following them with a camera to school. About to publish their hardships and hope in a major metro newspaper.

I think I learned then, and again now, that the sacrifice of a few minutes of mutual discomfort and self-consciousness is worth it to do the thing right. Each scene you shoot builds a story, which portrays a message (intended or not), adds to a conversation or visual dialogue that affects the way people think about things and how they act toward others. And it’s not over the day it comes off the front page. So you better have worked your ass off to do it right. Because it is about real people with real lives to lead, it has your name on it, and it will live a lot longer than you.

Make it good. And then make it better.

And then let it go.

Up For Debate: Debate league steers students on a path to success

Deverick knows how his life could have turned out if he hadn’t stuck with his studies: prison, drugs, or even death. Instead, he became a star on the Baltimore Urban Debate League team and went on to college. Now he coaches students like Kaela, who often come from complicated lives but are striving to be successful academically.

Many students, especially those in areas with a high degree of crime, like Baltimore, are pushed out of the classroom by “zero-tolerance” policies and into the juvenile justice system. These approaches harm all students, particularly children of color, students with disabilities and students identifying as LGBT.

Research shows that creating safe, nurturing learning environments where students can succeed helps divert the path away from negative outcomes. The Baltimore Urban Debate League helps students develop meaningful interactions with adults in their schools in addition to finding their own voice and expressing themselves.

Camera and sound: Errol Webber
Editing: Lauren Frohne
Music: Getty
Producers: Lauren Frohne and Maria Archuleta

– – – – – – –

This week, I declare victory on a long-fought battle. Getting this video published was among the greatest challenges so far in my time here at OSF. I won’t get into the details, but I’ll say that I’m proud of how it turned out. It’s come a long way.

Check out the post on the Open Society site : Is Harsh School Discipline Necessary? That’s Up for Debate

It was filmed by Baltimore-based cinematographer Errol Webber (, who did a nice job capturing moments as well as compelling scenes and well-composed interview set-ups. I edited it over the course of a couple months. The end result was a great indirect collaboration.

Unexpected stories in unlikely places

A few weeks ago, I helped out on a shoot with Talking Eyes Media. A client had asked them shoot an interview to be used in a video for their annual fundraising gala.

On the surface, that doesn’t seem like the most exciting thing in the world, but it’s always fun to get out of the routine and work with other people. Then I learned it was an NBA basketball player, which for someone who appreciates the stories within sports but does not at all follow professional sports, isn’t crazy exciting either.

It turned out to be Metta World Peace, otherwise previously known as Ron Artest. I had heard about him in the past, because he had some notorious encounters earlier in his career that you just hear about even if you don’t follow professional sports. But, I had no idea of how deeply his personal story ran or how much he’s worked to help young people who are growing up in circumstances like he did or his dedication to the issue of mental health.

That’s a really cool part of working on stuff like this, you stumble into some of the most surprising stories.

Here’s the video that the nonprofit made from the interview we filmed:

Tourist Destinations: Niagara Falls

Sometimes, it’s just really nice to indulge in a real touristy destination. We don’t do this a lot. But Jessey and I recently took a long weekend and drove the 7 hours up to Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls is a strange place. The actual waterfalls are amazing. Like you’re staring at a edge of the world. You can’t help but think of what the people who found that place thought, what it looked like before a city and attractions were built around it. Then the area around the falls is totally packed with soaring hotels, casinos and a huge version of every chain restaurant you can think of. A stark contrast with the natural beauty of the area that gives it a bit of a Las Vegas tinge. We brought our bikes (which is probably the best way to see any place in the world), so we rode around, seeking places to eat and drink off the main strip. We found dilapidated shuttered hotels and restaurants and a ghost town of a Main Street on an early Saturday night. Overall, it was a creepy combination to be housed all in one town: bustling tourism, natural wonder, abandoned and degraded town; I found it completely captivating.

It was so overwhelmingly visually, especially from certain angles, that I was compelled to film it (stills couldn’t capture it fully) and make a short film about it. It’s 3 minutes, but worth the indulgence.

See more images on my Tumblr.

Looking Past the Poverty: Life in Roma Ghettos

Before I began working for the Open Society Foundations, I had never really heard of the Roma people. Not many Americans have, from what I’ve gathered. Over the past year, in my capacity as a videographer and producer for OSF, I’ve had the opportunity to visit a few Roma settlements in Europe. The experience has changed my perspective drastically. My whole idea of poverty, of modern-day discrimination, of cyclical deprivation, all of it, has been completely altered. It’s a topic I’ve become deeply interested in, in hopes of contributing to a changing narrative for these extremely marginalized people in Europe.

I was able to write an article for the OSF website about the experience of documenting in such extreme situations, based on an interview with Bjorn Steinz who has photographed these communities with me. Check it out on the OSF homepage while it’s still up. Or click on the image below to be taken to the article on the OSF site…

More images (a combination of mobile and DSLR photography) from the settlements I’ve documented…

Two dogs in the Roma settlement outside Moldava nad Bodvou, Slovakia. November 16, 2012.

Man in the neighborhood in Moldava nad Bodvou, Slovakia. November 16, 2012.

Children in a settlement outside of Moldava nad Bodvou, Slovakia. November 16, 2012.

A house in a Roma village in Frumușani, Romania. May 9, 2013.

Bjorn photographs a girl at home in Frumușani, Romania. May 9, 2013.

Villagers with their horses in Frumușani, Romania. May 9, 2013.

A housing project for Roma in Stara Tehelna, Slovakia. November 15, 2012.

A housing project for Roma in Stara Tehelna, Slovakia. November 15, 2012.

The settlement in Moldava nad Bodvou, Slovakia. November 16, 2012.

To learn more about the Roma people, check out Open Society’s explainer on the issue.

Disability Rights and Open Society

One of the best things about my job is that it challenges me to think differently about how I approach society, people and life generally. It’s easy for us to accept things the way they are or not even realize that we marginalize people. Over the past few months, I’ve produced a series of interviews about disability rights in the framework of human rights, a space in civil society that persons with disabilities are often left out of.

This is a video I produced (with still images by Andrew Testa of Panos Pictures) about Elizabeth Kamundia, a lawyer in Kenya who decided to tackle the challenge of advocating for persons with disabilities in her own country by becoming an expert on the issue through one of the Open Society Foundations scholarship programs:

See also:
Boaz Muhumuza: I Am Not a Problem to Be Solved
Lawrence Mute: A Question of Rights, Not Charity
Gerard Quinn: Disability Rights: An Important Test for Open Society

Spilling Over: July 2013 Update

My partner Jessey Dearing and I just returned from another filming trip for our ongoing documentary project Spilling Over. As often as we can, we travel down to Buras, Louisiana to spend time with the Arnesens, the central characters of the film. Check out the post on our Spilling Over blog for more details.

Kindra and little David look out into the marshes from the top of the boat as they return from offshore fishing all day with David. (Image by Lauren Frohne)

Film Synopsis:
SPILLING OVER is the story of a family losing control. The Arnesens are a commercial fishing family in Venice, Louisiana. After the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico struck their community in April 2010, their future took a drastic turn. As years pass after the disaster, we journey with the Arnesens through intimate moments and difficult changes as they struggle to redefine their future and take back control over their lives.

SPILLING OVER is not a film about the BP oil spill. It’s not about fishing or the environment. It’s not about lawsuits, claim checks, cover-ups or health impacts. SPILLING OVER is about family, and what happens when a family is pushed beyond their limits.

NPPA Multimedia Immersion Workshop 2013 Recap

Back in May, I had the opportunity to coach at the NPPA Multimedia Immersion Workshop at Syracuse University. It’s an intensive, week-long workshop during which professional coaches from all sorts of outlets and organizations come together to teach sessions and do one-on-one story production with students.

From what I’ve gathered, the workshop was historically attended by a lot of newspaper and magazine photojournalists looking to gain some skills in producing multimedia. But this year’s batch of students ranged from picture editors at USA Today and Getty, to newspaper photojournalists, freelance documentary photographers, deans of business schools, MIT media lab, college students, educators, marketing types. It was a very diverse group of people, all looking to either learn video from scratch or get better with the gear they have.

The incredible part of this workshop is the ratio of students to coaches. Each pair of coaches (one Immersion veteran paired with one newbie coach, like me) had four students they worked with all week. I had the pleasure of working with Wes Pope, an innovative educator and super creative storyteller (and all-around awesome dude). I personally learned a lot from coaching with him the whole week. And our students were Kellen Deam (a student at Ball State University), Sara Wood (a rep for Nikon), Andy Wallace (a teacher turning toward video), and Andrea Bruce (amazing documentary photographer). Everyone was familiar with video to some degree, or at least visual production in some way, and a couple of them had edited with Final Cut Pro X before. Most importantly, everyone was super motivated to make something great within the tight timeframe of the workshop.

The one thing I tried to distill down with my students was what the heart of the story is. Most of their “story ideas,” which they chose out of a hat, were really just people or places of business. That’s not a story, it’s a jumping off point. For example, Sara Wood pulled out a tattoo shop as her story idea from the hat. It’s really easy to do a profile of a tattoo shop. They are usually vibrant and visual places full of interesting looking people, with the signature audio of the buzzing needle. But she really didn’t want to make the tattoo shop profile that’s been made a hundred times before. The first day she went out, she spent a bit of time there and then called me to check in. She seemed bummed that there wasn’t anything particularly dynamic going on. I asked about clients coming in. She said that day there was a guy coming in to get a cowboy tattoo. Okay hmmm… what about tomorrow? She said there was another client coming in to get a memorial type of tattoo. Oh yeah? Of what? HIS DOG. Immediately I knew that was her story, if she could get the access. She worked really hard to produce it, and really whittled down this big theme of “TATTOO SHOP” to a small, but very moving little story. It was less about telling the whole big picture story, and more about drilling into one little facet of it. Check out “Belle’s Strawberries”…

The only real hang up we had the whole week was one of those situations where a student’s first story fell through… and then stories kept falling through. It’s the worst situation for a workshop setting. You have a limited amount of time that you are trying so hard to maximize, you’re stressed, and things aren’t working out. That’s what happened with Kellen Deam. He was first assigned the nearby Ronald McDonald House, which is a great place to find really important and compelling stories to tell. But it’s also sensitive and relies on who is around that particular day. On Kellen’s particular day, there weren’t many people, and the ones who were there wouldn’t grant the access. So we went to a backup plan: go to the local farmers/artisan market and fine someone who makes or sells something there and has a great visual story, if not more. Kellen shot a little the next morning, but came back without a story. It was Thursday night, our Friday night deadline was rapidly approaching. Seth Gitner recommended maybe going to this local diner called Nicky’s Quick Cup and seeing if the family who owns it would share their story. So the next morning Wes went out to shoot with Kellen, providing some additional support as we were on our last option. They mic’ed up the current owner and her grandmother (the original owner) as a conversational scene in which the audience would feel like they were eavesdropping on a family conversation between them. You get a great sense of place and character, and overall it turned out to be a fun, quick-turn (thanks to some tag-team, intensive edit coaching between Wes and me) little story. Here’s “A Family Business”…

I won’t go into the production timelines of the rest of our team’s films, but overall it was an amazing experience working through these stories with Andy and Andrea. They really wanted to learn and create something perfect. That’s a tall order under such extreme circumstances, but I think we all got close. I’m just glad everyone came away happy, albiet slightly exhausted after finishing the export of all the videos at 4am Friday night/Saturday morning.

Probably my biggest personal challenge for the week was that we were teaching the students to edit with the new Final Cut Pro X, and I had never so much as opened the application before the first day of Immersion. I’ve been using FCP 7 (and previous iterations) for a long time now, and while some aspects of the new version are similar, just in terms of how all nonlinear editing systems work, it’s pretty much an entirely different piece of software. But by the end of the week, I was soaring through it with hot keys and shortcuts, and learning the pros and cons, mostly thanks so Joe Blum‘s amazingly thorough instructional packet. It was a really great way to buckle down and really learn something quick. The pressure always helps with that, too. Overall, I would recommend this workshop to anyone interested in learning multimedia video, or any professionals who have been thinking of taking time to coach it. It’s worth it.

So a big thank you to Seth Gitner and Will Sullivan for inviting me to be a part of the workshop.

Check out Andy Wallace’s “Release Skills” and Andrea Bruce’s “Empty Nest” below…

And see all of the NPPA Multimedia Immersion 2013 videos on the Vimeo channel.

How many times have you been stopped and searched?

When I came on board at the Open Society Foundations, there were a bunch of projects in the works that I sort of had to dive right into. One of those is a series on stop and search and its many iterations throughout Europe, which we recently published.

Stop and search is like our stop-and-frisk here in New York. It means that a police officer can basically come up to you and search your bags and your person with little cause. They are supposed to have “reasonable suspicion” that you are holding or doing something illegal, but often it comes down to racial profiling. They hassle young men of color the most.

The video interviews and portraits were shot by the great Ed Kashi last year: 10 interviews in all from the UK, about an hour long each. My job was to whittle all of this down into a quick-paced video trailer type of film to accompany the report about stop and search in England and Whales. It was a tough undertaking because it was all interviews with no b-roll except for portraits of each person, but I think it ends up painting an interesting portrait of the impact of stop and search. See the whole project on the Open Society website