While currently focusing on short form projects, I also have experience working on long form documentaries and educational programs.
THE BOY UNDER THE BILLBOARD
*True-crime documentary in production* An investigator’s obsession to identify the skeletal remains of an unidentified child spans two decades. Weeks before his retirement, a DNA breakthrough and a profound twist of fate reveal the unbelievable truth that will alter the lives of one family forever. THE STORY The skeletal remains of a child are found along the access road of a North Carolina highway in 1998. For 20 years, he is known only as John Doe #98-21372 -- “the boy under the billboard”. The lead investigator who collected fragments of the child’s skull and bones from the brush is haunted by the case. He’s given up hope that he will ever identify the boy and solve this horrific crime. But weeks from retirement, he gets a message that will forever alter the lives of everyone involved. A text flashes on his phone: “DNA results in. We found a match.” On the afternoon of September 25, 1998, Investigator Tim Horne arrives at the crime scene. Under a billboard at the Buckhorn Road Exit of North Carolina Interstate Highway 85 in Mebane, NC, he recovers the scattered remains of a child: a skull, bones, sneakers and bits of clothing. There are no missing children reports and no clues to an identity. For 20 years, he works doggedly to ID the child, but all leads go nowhere. On the eve of his retirement, a DNA match on Ancestry.com solved the case with a single phone call. Ultimately, Major Tim Horne identified the “boy under the billboard” as Bobby Whitt, uncovered another grisly murder and coaxed a confession from the killer on the final day of his 30-year career. This is an extremely rare opportunity to witness a cold case solved through genetic genealogy from start to finish. The case was solved with the help of Dr. Barbara Rae-Venter, whose work identified the Golden State Killer. We also have footage of world-renown forensic sculptor Frank Bender creating a bust of the boy just prior to his death death in 2011. All of these extraordinary events are captured live in this documentary.
GIFT OF THE DRAGON KING
What happens when the king of an ancient culture -- who has controlled the rate of modernization in his country -- decides to peacefully hand over the reins of power to his people? THE STORY Gift of the Dragon King challenges Western culture’s definition of prosperity. In the Himalayan country of Bhutan, an ancient culture is undergoing a remarkable social and political transformation. One of the most remote and isolated cultures in the world, Bhutan has eschewed Western values, declaring that happiness – measured by its “Gross National Happiness” index - is a critical measure for the national’s success. In 1999, Bhutan's 4th Dragon King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, lifted a ban on television and the Internet, and in 2008 he voluntarily gave up power -- transforming Bhutan from a monarchy to a democracy, ending more than a century of absolute rule. In just one generation, the Bhutanese people have moved from relative isolation to a 21st century, digitally connected world. Our documentary follows a group of Bhutanese citizens as they are exposed to Western values and adapt to life in a democracy, exploring the existential search for happiness in an increasingly materialistic world. Gift of the Dragon King captures these changes and follows the strange twists and turns, illuminating and reflecting our own Western social values and priorities. What happened to “Gross National Happiness” in Bhutan? Is it time for us to reassess our definition of happiness and prosperity? Our main characters include a Buddhist monk, a television reporter, a farmer, two students, the first psychiatrist in Bhutan and the former tutor to the 4th King – a U.K. schoolmaster, one of the first westerners to live in Bhutan in the 1970s, now the first Honorary Consul of the United Kingdom in Bhutan. STATUS: We filmed on location in Bhutan for five months during 2007/2008 to witness the election and gain unprecedented access to schools, hospitals and monasteries. Our goal is to return to Bhutan and complete this once-in-a-lifetime story by discovering how life has changed for our subjects … the birth of children, divorce, students entering the job force, and a former monk who is now an IT specialist in the U.S. Funded to date by private donations, our compilation of compelling HD footage has been logged by the award-winning editor Sabine Krayenbuhl. We are seeking funding for the final location shoot in Bhutan and for post-production to complete Gift of the Dragon King. Please contact us to join our team and support this fascinating and timely film!
BOB & INGE
"Bob & Inge" is the moving love story of Bob and Inge Sommer, both born as “Mampes” (or “Half & Halfs”) - the children of mixed marriages - in pre-WWII Berlin. Fortunately, their mothers were Jewish, for although Judaism is passed through the mother, Hitler’s Germany was a patriarchy, and their families were able to escape the worst of the Final Solution. After 67 years of marriage, they recount memories of life in Nazi Berlin, and how they met in New York after emigrating to America.