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The UW Task Force: From Policy to Practice

The Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington combines the social sciences, humanities, and professional fields to enhance our understanding of our increasingly interconnected globe. One standout and unique element of the program is “Task Force,” a capstone course that requires students to work in teams to research a specific policy issue and offer policy recommendations. Their research and recommendations address complex and pressing world issues such as the Syrian refugee crisis, cybersecurity, and US/Iran Policy after the nuclear deal.

Their written report is then subjected to an oral evaluation by experienced policymakers, such as foreign ambassadors and or directors of prominent federal agencies such as the CIA.  Many students cite Task Force as the highlight of their undergraduate education.

This video profiles two student participants in the program, one current and one graduate, as they discuss the impact of Task Force and their Jackson School education.

Roles: Producer, Videographer, Editor

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Avvo Office Life

If the legal industry seems intimidating to you, you’re not alone: founder Mark Britton formed Avvo in 2006 with the mission of making legal industry more accessible, or “make legal easier” as the company motto goes. In fact, you may recognize the Avvo name if you’ve searched for a lawyer, or combed through answers on one of Avvo’s helpful legal topics pages: the company thrives on providing useful information to those seeking legal assistance.

Apparently the need is strong. This Seattle-based startup has grown leaps and bounds since their founding in 2006, and they’re quickly becoming a force in shaping the legal industry.

Avvo feels they’re just getting started–the company is growing…and hiring! Watch the video below for a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Avvo office life, or to gain a sense of what current employees value about working for company intent on making “legal easier.”

 

Roles: Co-producer, Videographer, Editor

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Propella Vid: Behind the Scenes

As a videographer/camera operator, I spend most of my time behind the lens instead of in front of it, so it’s extra rare to have a behind-the-scenes video of production work.  The team at Propella put together this fun GoPro piece of our work on Propella 2.0, the product video for their newest line of electric bike. I hadn’t even noticed a few of the GoPros they stashed around our various shoot sites.  Nicely done Propella!

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Standing Strong, Upholding Values, and Building Bridges: MAPS Annual Banquet Video

 
The Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS for short) is a mosque located in Redmond, WA, that serves over 5,000 families across the Greater Puget Sound area. A beautiful place for prayer and reflection, MAPS also acts as much more: a thriving community center, an elementary school, a language school, a popular wedding and event venue, a cafe, and overwhelmingly welcoming place for youth and families for the 40+ nationalities who frequent the mosque.

MAPS’s leadership also invests tremendously in the local community. For this year’s annual banquet, MAPS highlighted their community-oriented programs in education, service, and outreach, an impressive collection of programs that span from healing our bodies (free health clinics) to our planet (environmental restoration), to healing social divisions through empowering youth to tell their personal stories.

Roles: Producer, Videographer, Editor

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Propella 2.0

 

Since I was a kid I’ve loved biking. So when the opportunity came about to work with Waka Waka Studios and Propella, a Seattle-based electric bike company with a mission to “bridge the gap between bicycles and electric bikes,” I jumped at the chance on the saddle.

For 2.0, Propella’s stylish black electric bike with blue anodized wheels was designed to be lighter, with a larger battery capacity and a more efficient motor, among other component improvements. We created this piece to highlight details of the new model in-studio, while showing the bike in-action around scenic Seattle. Propella is committed to making not just a well-functioning product, but one that is beautifully designed, and after spending some time with it in-person, I can say they’re succeeding: it’s the sexiest electric bike I’ve seen to date.

If you like the bike, Propella is offering a limited production run through their new indiegogo campaign, so jump on it soon!

Roles: Videographer, Co-Editor, Coordinator/Producer

 

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Make Your Voice Heard: Fighting Islamophobia

 

In 2015, reported hate crimes against American Muslims increased 67%, reaching the highest levels in our nation’s history. Responding to this rapid increase, The Muslim Association of Puget Sound  (MAPS) and Kids4Peace Seattle collaborated with local journalists, activists, judges, artists, and concerned citizens to produce the workshop “Make Your Voice Heard.”  The workshop set out to empower Muslim and non-Muslim youth to use media to tell positive personal stories about American Muslims and fight the mischaracterization of Muslims in mainstream media. In this video you’ll hear directly from Muslim youth about their stories, and experience a snapshot of the day’s event, held at Seattle University on January 15, 2017, Martin Luther King Day.

Roles: Videographer, Editor, Producer

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Amanda Castro: Daughter of the Disappeared

Twenty-five years after the end of the armed conflict in El Salvador, thousands of families like Amanda’s continue searching for their forcibly disappeared parents, children, friends and relatives. The President of El Salvador, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, has committed to form a National Commission to Search for Disappeared Persons to investigate and clarify these crimes against humanity. The Commission should be granted the legal authority and resources necessary to investigate these cases, with the goal of locating and identifying the remains of the disappeared, and where possible, identify those responsible for these crimes in order that they be brought to justice.

Join Amanda. Send a message to thank President Cerén for his commitment to surviving family members of the disappeared, and ask him to follow through on the creation of the Commission:

Unfinishedsentences.org/Take-Action

This video was created in partnership with the UW Center for Human Rights and the Center for Human Rights at the Universidad CentroAmericana.

Roles: Coordinator/Producer, Editor

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Primary Research Lab

As a part of the ongoing summer events in the Outdoor Sculpture Collection at Western Washington University, Western Gallery commissioned Matt Drews and collaborator Gil Bar-Sela to respond choreographically to Scott Burton’s Two Part Chairs, Right Angle Version (a pair), 1983/1987.

I captured and edited the film to frame the visual landscape of their 15 minute performance at Primary Research Lab in Bellingham WA on July 24, 2016.

The performers bodies traverse a physical conversation with the sculptures, blurring the distinction between the raw materials at play, in order to unravel what is essential.

Primary Research Lab is an exhibition project which incorporates talks, tours, research facilities, performances, films and events to frame situations for actively viewing the collection of Minimalist and Post-Minimalist art at Western Washington University.

Roles: Videographer, Editor

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Salvadoran-American Children of the Disappeared Search for “Our Parents’ Bones”

Originally published by the University of Washington Center for Human Rights

In 1993, the UN Truth Commission for El Salvador estimated that some 10,000 Salvadoran civilians were forcibly disappeared during the country’s armed conflict. To this day, no meaningful inquiries have been launched to recover their remains or identify those responsible for these crimes. In El Salvador, relatives of the disappeared have been demanding justice for decades. In 2014, the Mauricio Aquino Foundation launched a campaign called “Our Parents’ Bones,” led by children of the disappeared who now live in the United States. The campaign has hosted community events for children, family-members, and friends of the disappeared in cities across the U.S. With the support of the UWCHR’s Unfinished Sentences project, the Our Parents’ Bones campaign is also lobbying both the U.S. and Salvadoran governments to take action to uncover the truth about forced disappearances.

On April 14, 2016, the UWCHR joined the Mauricio Aquino Foundation, the Washington Office on Latin America, and the Due Process of Law Foundation in spearheading a Congressional briefing, hosted by the U.S. House of Representatives Central America Caucus and the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. At the briefing, three family members of the disappeared shared their personal stories, alongside David Morales, El Salvador’s Human Rights Ombudsman, who argued that the systemic disregard of such cases has hampered El Salvador’s ability to fight contemporary crime today. As part of the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America, the Obama Administration intends a significant investment in rule of law efforts in El Salvador and neighboring countries; yet participants in this briefing insisted that absent indications of political will to tackle the tough cases—from the past and present eras—infusions of economic assistance will have little effect.

In addition to sponsoring the briefing, members of the delegation met with numerous Congressional offices and with key officers at the State Department, and hosted two public presentations with local organizations. In response, Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Norma Torres (D-CA) circulated two Dear Colleague letters on the topic of El Salvador’s disappeared. In total, 26 Members of Congress signed a letter asking the Obama administration to initiate a broad declassification of records pertaining to human rights in El Salvador; 21 Members of Congress also signed a letter to Salvadoran President Salvador Sánchez Cerén soliciting the creation of a national commission in El Salvador to search for the disappeared.

There is reason to think that Our Parents’ Bones and Members of Congress’ call for a declassification order on El Salvador might be successful—earlier in 2016, the Obama Administration ordered government agencies to release files relating to U.S. involvement in the “Dirty Wars” in both Argentina and Chile. The UWCHR’s research, and our ongoing FOIA lawsuit against the CIA, underscore the importance of precisely such a measure to surmount the limitations of the existing FOIA process and provide access to information that can help families—in both El Salvador and the United States—heal the wounds of war.

The most compelling argument for further declassification and a renewed search for the remains of the disappeared, are the stories of those who lost family members to forced disappearance. Sara Aguilar, a Los Angeles-based filmmaker and member of the Our Parents’ Bones campaign, told the story of her father Rodolfo’s disappearance in a video created by the UWCHR. Sara’s story was viewed more than 18,000 times and shared by hundreds of people, many of whom wrote emotional messages of sympathy and solidarity. Hundreds also took action after watching the video by writing to U.S. government officials with the power to influence declassification processes.

“Within my generation this happened.” Sara says, “As a US citizen, I feel like it’s the US’s responsibility to declassify documents…It’s time now, 33, 35 years after the fact, it’s time to know what happened, find some closure, and continue that process of healing.”

Roles: Videographer, Producer

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Day in the Life of an EarthCorps Corps Member

EarthCorps is a non-profit organization founded in 1993 with a mission to build a global community of leaders through local environmental service. EarthCorps provides a year-long intensive program for young adults from the US and 80 other countries to learn best practices in community-based environmental restoration and develop their leadership skills as they supervise more than 10,000 volunteers each year.

In December 2012 I spent the work day with Aidos Toibayev, from Kazakstan, and his crew to document a “Day in the Life” of a corps member working on one of their environmental service projects. ‘Twas a fun day out near the Cascades planting trees along side a creek, throwing earthworms at each other in a game of WORM! and making timelapses in the rain. Thanks Aidos and EarthCorps for the good times!

To learn more about EarthCorps visit www.earthcorps.org