To me, being a documentary filmmaker means seeing the world as an endless wealth of stories, stories that connect the rest of us to their subjects and guide us along our paths. It is an opportunity to use my good fortune to serve others.
In my youth I performed community service on a monthly basis, serving meals in soup kitchens and halfway houses with my family, or helping rebuild homes in communities that were so underserved, I couldn’t believe I lived in the same city.
It was difficult at first to pick up the camera and document inequality and suffering. Whereas I wanted to engage with people directly, a camera literally comes between people. With so many poverty profiteers mining them for their stories of pain and suffering before rushing off to the next story, I didn’t see why anyone would trust me with documenting their humanity.
I went on to study film in college. The cinema became my second home. I became comfortable behind the camera. A year after graduating, I made my first documentary in Afghanistan and raised over $10,000 for a school for women, enough to pay all their operating costs and salaries for a year. Finally, I saw how I could do good with a camera. I became hooked.
Since then I have worked on documentaries about heavy metal in Kabul, soccer in Herat, immigration reform on Capitol Hill and fracking in North Dakota. I am constantly looking for partners and funding for future projects, with the goal of giving outsiders a platform to share their life stories, whether tragic or triumphant, in order to change or expand how the viewer sees life on this planet we all share.