Meet the 2019 Docs In Progress Fellows

Docs In Progress is pleased to announce the selections for the 2019 Docs In Progress Fellowship.

Now in its seventh year, this Program brings together a cohort of emerging documentary filmmakers from across the Washington DC/Baltimore Metropolitan area for a seven month Fellowship. Selected through a competitive application process, the 2019 Fellows represent a variety of professional backgrounds, documentary styles and subject matter, and stages of development of their current documentaries-in-progress.

The Fellows will participate together in a series of monthly meetings from March through September 2019 where they will come together to share and hold each other accountable for progress on these current projects, and have a facilitated discussion with each other and with special guest speakers about issues related to the documentary landscape, work/life balance, and the creative process. They will also attend the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.

This program is made possible in part through support of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Meet the 2019 Docs In Progress Fellows and their current films:

SARA BARGER - Washington DC

Sara has traveled the world making short films as a producer and editor, producing content for the U.S. State Department, USAID, Discovery Channel, and think tanks. Her work has taken her to Iraq, Congo, India, China, Tibet, El Salvador, and Honduras. She teaches filmmaking at Old Dominion University. Sara recently completed a short documentary The Southern Ladies about the struggles of being gay in Pittsburgh, and is currently in production on Madison, about a family that is battling their nine-year old daughter's brain cancer through medical cannabis treatment even though it is not legal in their state.


A former reporter whose work has appeared in the The New York Times, The New York Post and FOX News, in recent years, Renee has shifted her focus to documentary filmmaking, gaining hands on experience working with projects of Voice of America, Winter's Rock Entertainment, and Associated Producers. She is an alum of The Institute for Documentary Filmmaking, a program of The Documentary Center at George Washington University. While there, she co-produced Boys in the Boat, a short documentary which has won awards at film festivals across the country. She is in pre-production on Pipeline which examines how the fight against a natural gas pipeline brings together an unlikely alignment between an African-American Christian community whose presence in the region goes back to slavery and an ashram community founded in the 1980s by an Indian spiritual master.  


Robert is a director and producer who works for Freethink, a media company specializing in short-form documentary storytelling with a focus on making content for young people wanting to make a difference in the world. Robert has helped produce seven original documentaries and series for Freethink including Superhuman, Coded, Challengers, Crossing The Divide, DIY ScienceOn The Fringe, and most recently Holding Police Accountable. He also directed a short documentary about the accidental entrepreneurs of Don’t Flop (DFAFD), formerly the largest battle rap league in the UK. He is in pre-production on American Sundown, a feature length documentary that examines the seemingly impossible dream that is racial progress in the United States through the lived experiences of the people, using the director's own family history as a springboard.


Andrea is a writer and non-fiction filmmaker whose work illustrates intersections between politics, violence, and justice. His work has been broadcast on CBC Television, CBC Radio, and TV Ontario. He co-wrote and edited Rubber Stamped, a documentary short that examines the international extradition case of Hassan Diab, and the writer/director of The Echoes of Chloe Cooley, an award-winning short documenting the resistance of one woman that resulted in the first anti-slavery law in the British Empire. Andrea has been a fellow of the Union Docs Documentary Lab, the Hot Docs Accelerator Program, the RIDM Talent Lab, and the Next-Up Leadership Program for Social Justice. He is currently in production on his first feature-length documentary, The Places You Won't Find Parole.


Kris comes to filmmaking with a background in managing non-profit organizations that focused on children, education, and creative expression. In his current position as Director of Operations & Production for the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, he oversees the financial and logistical operations of PBS FRONTLINE documentaries. He is proud to have received a Mister Rogers Memorial Scholarship from the Television Academy Foundation, which partially funded his fellowship project, FOOTNOTES: A Sockumentary. This non-fiction children's web series takes a ridiculous look at history from an unlikely perspective – socks. Each episode explores one historical figure or event, and is told from the point-of-view of history’s lost socks (as played by sock puppets). 


Linnan is a filmmaker and a jazz vocalist.  Her experimental film How to Become Image Spam about the proliferation of imagery in modern day society has screened at festivals  in New York and New England. She especially loves working with 16mm film and a Bolex camera. She is in post-production on Dancing In The Square (Guangchang Wu) which explores a social phenomenon where a generation of elders who were youth during the oppressive Cultural Revolution now dance together expressively in public squares across China to music ranging from traditional songs to American hip-hop.

RYAN MAYERS - Baltimore MD

Ryan is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker with over 20 years of experience in both television and film. Through his career, Ryan’s work has been seen on CBS, MTV, A&E Biography, ESPN, BET, DIY, PBS, and The Disney Channel. While working at Harpo Studios in Chicago, he edited the documentary series Oprah’s Next Chapter, among other shows for the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). As a documentary filmmaker, Ryan had both directed and edited several award winning films, including his first feature, Bounce Back: The Story of Ronnie Fields. His most recent short, Jmaxx and the Universal Language is currently on the film festival circuit. He is in post-production on Hustle and Harmony: The Battle for Wilkes-Barre about the impact of merging two high schools in which have had a longtime rivalry on the football field and how this reflects the larger challenges facing a former coal town.


Sarah is an award winning independent producer and director with her own production company Constant Movement Cinema. She is a Director and Producer at Constant Movement Cinema. Prior to starting her own company, she had worked for National Geographic Channel as an Associate Producer. She has a passion for telling authentic, raw stories in any format -- be it narrative, documentary, or commercial. She is in production on Woman > Mother, which deconstructs, rebuilds, and expands upon the traditional definition of what it means to be a woman by examining the narrative that women are defined by where they fall in the spectrum and timeline of motherhood.


Malikkah comes to filmmaking as an extension of a career as a clinical social worker and educator. Her clinical social work background lends itself to documentary filmmaking as she is a trained listener and sees people as products of their environments. As an active member of Women in Film and Video, Malikkah has one short documentary under her belt, and is directing and producing a second. She is in pre-production on Safer in Lusaka about low income teens from Washington DC who are forced out of their geographic and emotional comfort zones as they participate in a service-learning trip to southern Africa. 

TANYA UPSHUR - Washington DC

When Tanya is not spending time with family, videoing her tortoises, taking pictures of food or karate chopping toilet paper, she is making movies. She produced/directed Birth! Place? about an expectant mother whose birth plan is repeatedly altered because she doesn't have her own housing. She has been as Associate Producer for Victorious, a film about the DC Divas, Washington DC's female football team and Assistant Producer for a short narrative Yin and Yang: Mandala of Life starring James Lew. As an actor, Tanya has performed at Studio Theater in Washington, DC and at the Kennedy Center of Performing Arts. She has also appeared in commercials and on NBC's The Blacklist. She is in pre-production on Momma Rising!,  a feature-length documentary about the history and experiences of Black midwives in Washington DC.


Wendell is transitioning into filmmaking from a career working for the U.S. government and as a licensed psychologist. He has participated in media arts training and professional development from the Smithsonian, George Mason University, the Producer's Guild of America, Montgomery College, Women in Film and Video, and Docs In Progress. Wendell is in pre-production on Why?, which revisits a tragedy involving a Navy veteran with a long history of mental illness who killed 12 people at a secure military facility. The film will explore the action and inaction which both allowed this to happen, but also prevented a higher death toll that day.