Sadie Saltzman ’19 Family Pictures USA, Harlem, NY

My name is Sadie Saltzman and I just recently graduated from Skidmore College where I studied Sociology and Media & Film studies. With the help of my Skidmore professors, I was able to make my first connection to the documentary world through a non-fiction filmmaker forum called, The D-Word. This produced great results when the new TV series Family Pictures USA offered me an internship. The documentary production company that hired me, Digital Diaspora Family Reunion, is based in Harlem and is run by the well-known documentarian, Thomas Allen Harris. An acclaimed filmmaker who uses media as a tool for social change, Thomas has taught at Yale, Dartmouth and the University of California and is well respected across the documentary community. Family Pictures USA is set to premiere on August 12th at 9pm on PBS! Check it out!

During production, the Family Pictures USA team collected tons more footage than could fit in the three hour-long episodes. My assignment was to work with the other interns and staff to develop this extra content and present it to the public. For example, one of the projects I was assigned was to edit short pieces (ranging from 30 seconds to 3-minutes) from production footage that didn’t make it into the final cut. These digital shorts will be shared on the PBS website and on the Family Pictures USA Youtube account. Additionally, I assisted the social media team in doing graphic design. I designed graphics for their social media platforms, as well as for toolkits for distributors. I also assisted in completing office tasks and doing general research. 

Working alongside Thomas and his amazing team, I learned so much about the process of post-production. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to work for such an accomplished director with such a talented team on a project that relates to my sociology studies background. What was especially useful was the opportunity to work alongside accomplished film editors. As someone who would one day like to be editing feature-length films, I learned a ton by working with editors on this team. I really loved how it felt like I was a part of a team. Family Pictures USA is also a really amazing project. The main slogan for the tv series is “Healing America one family photo at a time.” I’m extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to work for Thomas and his team!

The Skidmore Experience Fund is amazing! I wouldn’t have been able to gain the experience I did this summer if it wasn’t for the funding I received. I highly recommend applying! Don’t forget to check out Family Pictures USA, August 12th at 9pm on PBS!

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