Filmmakers Making A Social Impact: Why & How Filmmaker Steven Lawrence Is Helping To Change Our World
It’s hard to make a consistent living as a documentary filmmaker in America, so it’s good to balance risky projects with ones that are likely to pay better — what’s known as, “One for them, one for me.” In my own case, my fee from Married In America, a feature doc I made with Michael Apted that was financed by A&E and New Line Television, allowed me to make Vis à Vis: Native Tongues for PBS, the doc mentioned earlier based on conversations and performances shared between Native American performance artist James Luna and Aboriginal performance actor/writer Ningali Lawford.
As a part of our series about “Filmmakers Making A Social Impact” I had the pleasure of interviewing Steven Lawrence.
Steven is a producer-director and media pioneer who has been making documentaries for over 30 years about artists, activists and everyday heroes — from underground Soviet rockers to a Senegalese rapper fighting FGM, to cat rescuers in Brooklyn, and now scientists racing to save the human microbiome. As a producer his work includes three feature docs in collaboration with Michael Apted, as well as AGE 7 IN THE USSR, THE FURIOUS FORCE OF RHYMES, SARABAH (Movies That Matter Golden Butterfly award), and Heddy Honigmann’s 100 UP. His directing credits include TELL TCHAIKOVSKY THE NEWS; ROCK IN RUSSIA for MTV, the VIS à VIS series for PBS and THE CAT RESCUERS, winner of the 2018 Hamptons International Film Festival animal rights award.
Thank you so much for doing this interview with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you share your “backstory” that brought you to this career?
When I came of age in the late 1960s, there were only 4 national TV networks and national print media was dominated by big corporations, like Time Inc. Local news was also quite limited. Our country was divided…