Jeremy Levine '06

Roy H. Park School of Communications | Television-Radio | Documentary Studies and Production

The story of documentary filmmaker Jeremy Levine’s rise to professional success reads a little like a movie script itself. During the summer between his sophomore and junior years, he traveled to Arizona with former classmate Landon Van Soest ’04 to produce a 10-minute short about tensions along the U.S.-Mexican border for an IC film class. Realizing their project was worthy of a full-length documentary, Jeremy and Landon slept in cars; interviewed outlaw pastors, impoverished immigrants, and armed vigilantes; spent a year editing their work and then realized: We have a film. Now what?

“We were faced with a real lesson in distribution,” Jeremy says. “It was part of the surreal experience of being a college sophomore covering a story that hadn’t attracted any national media. Trying to do things well and messing up and starting over again were invaluable parts of my education.”

Jeremy and Landon’s film, Walking the Line, ended up playing at more than 2,000 film festivals internationally and winning a human rights award at one of them. The experience also led to forming Transient Pictures, a production company whose clients include the Sundance Channel and Mother Jones. Among Jeremy and Landon’s recent projects is Good Fortune. An examination of international relief efforts in Africa, the film premiered on PBS’s POV series where it won a 2011 News & Documentary Emmy Award. It has also won the Silverdocs Witness Award, and was an official selection of the 2009 International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam.

“If I had spent the first few years of college with no hands-on production experience, it would have been impossible to make the transition from student to professional so quickly,” Jeremy says. “IC offers incredible opportunities. If you really want to do something, put your mind to it and it can happen.”

>> More on this story: "A Conversation With Jeremy Levine" - FLEFF Blog