Book Preview: Tell Me Something

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Session Note

What can you learn from the world's best documentary filmmakers? In the new book Tell Me Something, being previewed at Docs Conference, Jessica Edwards solicits advice from over 50 acclaimed directors including Alex Gibney, Fred Wiseman, Errol Morris, and Jennifer Baichwal (who all have new films playing at TIFF). Edwards was joined by filmmaker and contributor Gary Hustwit (Helvetica, Urbanized) to discuss the wisdom gleaned from the project.

Guest Biographies

    • Jessica Edwards
    • Author, Tell Me Something

      Jessica Edwards has a broad background in the film industry as a director, producer and publicist. Her award-winning short documentary Seltzer Works screened at festivals around the world and aired on the PBS documentary series POV in 2010. Her subsequent films, Tugs and The Landfill have screened at numerous festivals including Sundance and SXSW. She is the editor of Tell Me Something, a forthcoming book of advice from documentary filmmakers that will be published in the fall of 2013 and features advice from Al Maysles, DA Pennebaker, Martin Scorsese, Errol Morris, Barbara Kopple, and many more.

    • Gary Hustwit
    • Director, Helvetica, Objectified and Urbanized

      Gary Hustwit is an independent filmmaker based in New York and London. He worked with punk label SST Records in the late 1980s, and was subsequently involved in a wide range of projects in music and book publishing before he started Plexifilm in 2001. Created as a DVD label with a focus on music-related films, Hustwit expanded the company in 2003 to include producing original documentaries. The first film he produced was the Wilco documentary, I Am Trying To Break Your Heart. Other music documentaries included Moog, about the music inventor and godfather of electronic music Bob Moog; Oddsac, a film collaboration with the band Animal Collective, and Drive Well Sleep Carefully about the band Death Cab for Cutie, among many others. In 2007 he made his directorial debut with Helvetica, a documentary about graphic design and typography. The film marked the beginning of a design film trilogy, with Objectified, about industrial design and product design following in 2009, and Urbanized, about the design of cities in 2011. Hustwit was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Helvetica, and was named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company Magazine.

    • Brett Morgen
    • Brett Morgen is an Oscar and Emmy nominated filmmaker. His credits include The Kid Stays In The Picture, Crossfire Hurricane, Chicago 10, Nimrod Nation, 30 for 30: JUNE 17, 1994, and On the Ropes. He's won several awards and honors including the DGA award for Outstanding Achievement in Documentary filmmaking, the IDA award for Best Documentary, and two Peabody awards. His most recent film, Crossfire Hurricane, is currently nominated for 4 primetime Emmy awards including Best Documentary. Morgen is also a prolific commercial director at Anonymous Content where he has directed over 200 spots. He is currently writing, directing, and producing the first authorized documentary about Kurt Cobain.

    • Tia Lessin
    • Academy Award nominated filmmaker Tia Lessin is the director and producer, with Carl Deal, of Citizen Koch and Trouble the Water, winner of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize, the Gotham Independent Film Award and the Full Frame Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize. She was a co-producer of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, winner of the Palme d'Or, Academy Award-winning Bowling for Columbine, and Capitalism: A Love Story. In television, Tia directed and produced Behind the Labels, for which she received the Sidney Hillman Award for Broadcast Journalism. She line produced Martin Scorsese’s Emmy and Grammy winning film No Direction Home: Bob Dylan and was consulting producer of Living in the Material World: George Harrison. Her work as producer of the series The Awful Truth earned her two Emmy nominations, one arrest and a lifetime ban from Disney World. Tia is a Sundance and IFP Lab Advisor, a Creative Capital grantee and the recipient of the L’Oréal Paris/Women in Film’s Women of Worth Vision Award.