I’m a filmmaker living in Portland with my wife, the novelist Cheryl Strayed, and our two young children. I’m fascinated with people who transcend human frailty and other setbacks to discover their truer, better selves, accessing strength and wisdom previously unknown to them. My films attempt to answer the question” How does a person grow?
My most recent film, the feature length documentary Finding Normal follows long-time addicts straight out of Portland’s Hooper Detox as they try to rebuild their lives with the help of Recovery Mentors who have been through the hell of addiction and incarceration and can share their hard-won knowledge of how to get clean and stay clean.
Finding Normal was awarded Best Local Production at Willamette Week’s Longbaugh Film Festival, and enjoyed successful runs at Cinema 21 and the Hollywood Theater. Finding Normal played at the Oregon State Penitentiary and Larch Correctional Center and was selected for the Astoria International Film Festival and the Northwest Film and Video Festival.
I was born and raised in Portland. I’m a graduate of Parkrose High School, Lewis & Clark College, and Columbia University where I received an MFA in directing and screenwriting. I am the first person in my family to go to college. I put myself through school with a combination of student loans, work study, scholarships, and working eight summers in a salmon cannery in Alaska.
My films have been broadcast on OPB, PBS, and French Television, and are distributed by Pyramid Media and Third World Newsreel. I’ve received grants from the Regional Arts and Culture Council, The Pioneer Fund, New York Mills Cultural Center, The Berni Foundation, and the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation. Awards include Longbaugh Film Festival, New Line/Symphony Space, Mature Media and a Telly. Since 1994 I have taught in the Northwest Film Center’s Young Filmmaker’s Program, using video as a tool of empowerment for at-risk youth.