Hollywood Hills from The Line Hotel, Los Angeles, November 2020. Photo: Busy K
I’ve been reflecting a lot on the nature of production during the COVID crisis.
When it became clear that our show Parenting Without Borders wasn’t coming back anytime soon, I relocated to northern California to stay with family while the worst of the virus raged in my beloved New York City. Many of my friends and colleagues were discovering that they had COVID or were recovering from it. The executive director of New York Women in Film and Television was living in the epicenter in Queens surrounded by the steady scream of ambulance sirens, which we could hear during on-line board meetings. Another friend had a mobile morgue unit parked on her block in Brooklyn. And then in April 2020, two people I know died within a week of each other – one in NYC and one in Milan. The scope of this virus is devastating. And those deaths have influenced everything I’ve done since.
In May I got a call about a commercial project for a big tech company. They were planning a shoot with crazy numbers: 10 directors and 300 crew members to make 200+ short films in 4 weeks. I was both apprehensive and excited to get back to work. Because this was a client that would follow strict safety protocol, I felt comfortable committing. Read More
Corey Williams is the kind of person who makes you want to root for him. Sincere, honest and open, he’s a hard worker and a man of few words. And 20 years ago he was sent to death row after a house party ended in the murder of a pizza delivery man. Corey was a mere child of 16, a victim of poverty and intellectually disabled. He was living in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, notorious for its tough-on-crime approach to justice where African American teens were labeled “super predators.” In short, Corey never had a chance. And yet, details of the case didn’t add up. Read More
Last week, I spoke to NYWIFT members about the state of the industry from my perspective as showrunner and director of a travel documentary series for Disney+. Production everywhere has “paused” for the time being. I talk about what that means for the immediate future and how we producers can approach the unknown. Read More
Death Row Stories explores the fallibility of the ultimate criminal penalty, capital punishment. Told by current and former death row inmates, each episode of Death Row Stories seeks to unravel the truth behind a different capital murder case and poses tough questions about the U.S. capital punishment system. Sundays at 8pm, ET/PT on HLN. My episode “Body of Evidence” premieres June 30.
I directed two episodes of the series for Jigsaw Productions. This was my first foray into the true crime genre, which I’ve been following as a growing phenomenon over the past few years. Studies show that women consume the most media about true crime. There are many theories about why: whether it’s escapism or it’s a way to interact with our worst fears, many people are looking for reasons to why bad things happen. Death Row Stories premiered in 2014, and has since been at the forefront of true crime’s popularity exploring capital punishment in a way that’s more palatable for people who might not think they’re interested in social justice issues.
On the set of “Death Row Stories” for CNN.
Becoming the Showrunner of a Netflix Food Series
Host Samin Nosrat and DP Luke McCoubrey. Liguria, Italy. 2018.
When I was 13 years old, part of my allowance came from preparing dinner for the family once a week. This corresponded to my mother returning to work that same year, so it helped her to have a night off. I loved it, in part because it meant that I didn’t have to do the dishes, a loathsome duty for the rest of the week. That summer I also had a steady babysitting gig. The oppressiveness of Tidewater heat and humidity made it impossible to stay outside for very long, so the kid and I were often cooped up indoors with the AC on and the shades drawn. But the mother had a stack of Southern Living magazines filled with beautiful photos of recipes both traditional and fancy. From those each week I’d develop the menu and add ingredients to my father’s grocery list, which he bought without question. My mother remembers the first dinner – meatloaf roulade with a swirl of broccoli and cheese. Armed with Jacques Pepin’s step-by-step illustrated cookbook, La Technique, I tried my hand at choux pastry, and voilà, my first cream puff swans were born.