Surviving the Silence

Feature Length Documentary Film


My Role:  DP + Editor + Motion/VFX + Promo Design + Co-Producer


Project description

After our first award-winning documentary, Breaking Through, obtained distribution, I joined forces again with Cindy Abel (Atlantis Moon Productions) to film our second award-winning feature documentary, Surviving the Silence

Colonel Pat Thompson was a decorated military nurse, only two years away from retirement after an illustrious career.

Then came the assignment to preside over a hearing regarding a fellow Army nurse’s federal recognition. This usually meant an hour meeting before increasing a military member’s security clearance. This time, it would be a two day-long hearing that eventually resulted in the dismissal of Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer for having admitted she was a lesbian.

Though she didn’t conceal her sadness at fulfilling her duty in this role, Colonel Thompson did hide her own secret, as she had for nearly 30 years: she too was a lesbian.

“Pat faced an impossible choice,” said Colonel Cammermeyer. “She could have come out and then there would have been two of us dismissed without recourse, or, she could fulfill her duty in a way that allowed me the best possible defense. By presiding over the board, Pat had a profound impact on my ability to get into Federal Court and make my reinstatement possible. And in doing so, she played an important role in enabling us to move forward to finally get the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

While the story of Colonel Cammermeyer was highly publicized and her book Serving in Silence became a television movie executive-produced by Barbra Streisand and starring Glenn Close, Colonel Thompson’s has remained untold. Until now.

As a Director of Photography I was the principal creative behind photography. Occasionally, I had an additional shooter, however, the majority of production I was running two or three cameras simultaneously as a solo operator, in addition to audio and lighting to record interviews and b-roll.

As the film’s Editor and Post-Production Coordinator, I collaborated with the director to cut down over 25 hours of multi-cam footage, working both in person and remotely. I researched and located archival media. I designed all the motion graphics and completed visual effects like sky/object replacement, green screen keying, and various tasks to clean up frames (i.e. when a practical failed halfway through an interview I was able to composite in the background from the first half of the interview to keep continuity throughout the film). I synced all audio and completed the general pass of audio and sound effects for the film. I then collaborated and coordinated the continuous transfer of files with the Composer and Sound Designer as we continued to refine the film down to our theatrical runtime. I collaborated with an animator to create hand drawn animations where I created and composited additional graphics/vfx to enhance the animations.

While I was editing the film and coordinating with the Animator, Sound Designer, and Composer, I also remotely worked alongside two colorists. Because the film was still being edited and updated I devised a workflow that allowed me to share Adobe Premiere timelines where the colorists could easily see any updates that needed attention and we could quickly re-sync timelines. After audio and video lock, the director decided to change the visual aesthetic of the film and I completed the final color correction, over hauling the majority of the film. When the film was completed and obtained distribution, I organized all the copyright permissions for our lawyers, as well as, managed all deliverables for festivals and film distribution, blu-ray/dvd creation, and created theatrical trailers.