We’ve produced five feature and short documentaries, taking them from soup (pre-production) to nuts (distribution and social media marketing). Today, you can watch them on DirecTV, PBS, Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, and Hulu. As shooters and editors, we’ve also worked with some of the best documentary filmmakers in the business—including Academy and film festival award winners. So while we aspire to be the best, we’ve also worked with the best. There’s no replacement for this kind of experience—and the knowledge that comes with it.
We prefer a “fly-on-the-wall” approach, building trust with our subjects and letting human drama unfold. We want our documentaries to be entertaining, but also make the world a better place.
We also work as freelance documentary producers, cinematographers, and editors so if you are looking for a collaborator or help for your documentary, send us a note.
OUR DOCUMENTARY FILMS
“G.I. JOBS” | DIRECTV | 4K | BUDGET: $120k | IMDB RATING: 8.6
Our film for DirecTV’s Audience Channel is their first entry into original documentary feature programming. We are the first production company DirecTV chose to work with to make a film out-of-house.
When we began discussions with DirecTV they expressed that their goal was to have the film ready for broadcast on Veterans Day, which left us with 10 months to produce the film. Given that documentary features take on average 2-3 years to complete, this was a tight time frame to say the least. But we strategized and put together a compelling treatment we thought could be feasible in that time span.
When DirecTV agreed and signed off on our idea to make a documentary about the struggles veterans face when returning to the civilian world, we immediately began booking meetings with top government and nonprofit officials connected with veterans issues in the Los Angeles (we decided to set the film in Los Angeles because it the highest number of veterans in the nation and also the largest network of service providers committed to veterans issues). When we hit go on a documentary film production, we like to leave the cameras at home and first go out and meet and listen to those who are deeply involved with our topic. This has been our process for a long time and it helps build trust with those people who can help facilitate the making of the documentary film. For this documentary, the officials and experts we met very much became out partners on the film. We worked with them to cultivate a story that touched on the issues that mattered to them most while allowing space for us to maintain an impartial critical viewpoint for the film.
In turn, they connected us with soldiers who were in the process of separating from the military or just recently had. We met with several and settled on five we thought best represented a diverse range of experiences and backgrounds that we wanted to include in the film. With their cooperation in graciously opening up their lives to us, we succeeded in crafting a compelling story told through real people that connects with viewers on an emotional level.
We are happy to report that met the Veterans Day deadline. Following the premiere, we worked closely with Los Angeles Mayor’s Office to organize a screening of the documentary at L.A.’s Bob Hope Patriotic Hall. The film has been warmly received and currently maintains an 8.6 rating out of 10 on IMDB.com.
”SOLDIERS OF PAINT” | FIRST RUN FEATURES | HD | BUDGET: $160k | IMDB RATING: 7.6
The inspiration behind this film was the desire to break the documentary film mold and tell a story in way that hadn’t been done before and merged the worlds of narrative and documentary storytelling. When we found out about “Oklahoma D-Day,” an annual event where 4,000 people recreate the Invasion of Normandy, we thought we found our opportunity for doing just that. We contacted Dewayne Convirs, the founder and creator of “Oklahoma D-Day,” and told him about our fascination with his event and our interest in telling its story. He was intrigued and invited us to come check out that year’s game. Once there, it didn’t take us long to recognize the compelling story opportunities for a documentary film and how it would help us achieve our goal—we could create a film that was essentially a real-time war film.
When we asked Dewayne for his thoughts on our idea, he let us know he has had a lot of television producers contact him over the years about doing a series and none of them had come through on their promises. We told him we were not interested in a reality series, but a feature film. Unlike reality television, a feature film allows for the time and space to recognize the deeper meanings and implications of its subject. For Dewayne, who started the game to honor his grandfather and now had grown to honor all veterans, the opportunity to tell that part of the story was deeply important to him. He gave his blessing and off we went.
That winter we began shooting as the “Allied” and “German” sides undertook their planning (which included strategy meetings, artillery construction, and, yes, even spying). For the game itself, we employed a 14-person crew with embedded camera operators and a long-range communication system to help direct them. We got lucky and ended up capturing the closest match in the game’s 11 year history.
During post-production we encountered our own battle—that of a highly complex story with a mountain of footage, much of which had to be synced together to re-create the unfolding of the game. Oh, and we had to find a way to condense an 8 hour game into 45 minutes while maintaining the integrity of the events as they unfolded and approximate the memory of those who fought it.
It took six years to complete but the final product was worth the persistence. We secured a distribution deal with the long-running and highly regarded independent film and documentary distributor First Run Features. With their help and that of digital distributor Gravitas Ventures, the film has found its way onto iTunes, Amazon, VOD, DVD, Hulu and enjoyed a successful two-year contract run on Netflix. To date the film maintains a 7.6 rating out of 10 on IMDB.
”SHATTERED SKY” | IMDB RATING: 7.0
In 2007, the EPA hired us to make a short documentary film to mark the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty that helped preserve the ozone layer. One of our first interviews was with George Schultz, President Reagan’s secretary of state. He recalled the agreement as one his proudest accomplishments. “The Protocol explores parallels with the current challenges we face in addressing global climate change and developing clean and secure energy supplies for the future,” he said. “It shows what we can do when we actively work together to make a difference.”
With his statements and others we realized the story was bigger than we thought. It deserved the larger format of a feature documentary film. Yet we were unsure what important message we wanted the film to deliver.
Then we spoke to world-renowned scientists Susan Solomon and Noble Prize-winning Sherwood Rowland. They taught us about the similarities between the ozone crisis and global warming. Both derive from odorless, invisible gases—CFCs for ozone and primarily CO2 for warming. Both have long lives in the atmosphere, so it’s difficult to reverse the damage. Because emissions know no borders, no single country can solve the problem on its own. Solutions require successful international agreements.
Could America’s leadership on the ozone issue offer inspiration to contemporary politicians to move forward on the climate issue? This seemed like an important inquiry and we decided our goal with the documentary would be to remind people how America solved a big problem and came out ahead—a rare bipartisan success story.
This led us to talking to 25 additional experts from the worlds of science, diplomacy, business, and the coal industry and reasearching hours of archival footage at the National Archives. With these visuals, we structured the story to toggle between the ozone crisis in the ‘70s and ‘80s and our present-day struggles with formulating a forward-looking energy policy that addresses climate change.
Upon completion we developed our own distribution strategy that included building a grassroots following via social media. The film’s Facebook page reached 500,000 people. We had press in the New York Times, Bloomberg News, and Policy Innovations. The film premiered at the Washington, D.C., Environmental Film Festival, aired nationally on PBS, and ultimately found its way onto Hulu, iTunes, and Amazon.
Unfortunately, the film has yet help shape lasting policy and it’s disheartening to see how little progress our country has made. But perhaps the lasting message from our documentary film is that taking responsibility for issues that affect our environment is not partisan. After all, Republican President Reagan supported strong ozone regulation, Nixon passed the initial Clean Air Act, and George H.W. Bush presided over the first acid rain regulations. Our future depends on decisions made be our current leaders. Who will they look to for inspiration?
“VOLCANIC SPRINT” | IMDB RATING: 8.8
In 2006, after several years running his own video production company and developing stories for clients, Steve developed an itch develop his own story for a documentary film, one close to his heart. He was drawn to his experience living in Africa and the many stories he wished he could tell. One of those was the most extreme running race in the world—the Mt. Cameroon Race of Hope, a marathon-distance trail run up a live volcano in Buea, Cameroon. It had all the ingredients for the making of a compelling story for a documentary film. Now, he just needed a budget.
In for the rescue—Visa! With credit card in hand, Steve partnered up with filmmaker Dan Evans and experienced documentary cinematographer Ryan Hill and flew his crew to Cameroon. He relied on Hill’s experience with National Geographic, Evan’s resourcefulness, and his own network to develop the film’s story on the ground. Steve’s closest Cameroonian friend, Jean Paul Fosso, was working with the Cameroonian Sports Ministry, which provided his film crew with full access. Another close friend, Louise Mbango, connected him to Moki Charles, a producer for Cameroonian Radio and Television. He took a week off from his day job to be his film crew’s unit producer and helped hire seven additional camera operators to film on race day.
Steve directed the 10-day film shoot. The race itself presented logistical challenges. It is, after all, a marathon-distance trail run up a live volcano. He hired two motorcycles and filmed from the back of them during the four-mile road portion. Then he positioned the local camera operators along the course. Simon Gobina, positioned at 12,000 feet at the summit, battled snow and sub-freezing temperatures. And Steve drew the short straw to shoot from a rickety helicopter.
Dan and Steve scripted and edited the documentary film for a year, working in between commitments to clients. Ultimately, “Volcanic Sprint” won the nonfiction film category at the Big Bear Lake Film Festival and was an official selection of the Jackson Hole Film Festival, Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, and Boulder Adventure Film Festival. It was distributed globally by American Public TV Worldwide. Today, you may watch it on Amazon and iTunes.