Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
Film and Media Studies
Academic Program Adviser
Shocking, Heartbreaking, Transformative is a 4-part creative non-fiction podcast that problematizes the use of personal stories in the documentary industry and examines the power dynamics between documentary-makers and their subjects. The series features a story within a story: it follows me, documentarian Jess Shane, as I craft short documentaries about four individuals’ lives— individuals who have applied to participate in my project by responding to an online ad. It also dives into the behind-the-scenes decisions required to tailor individuals’ life experiences to conform to industry standards of what makes a “good story.” In tandem, these two narratives— of me producing my documentary subjects’ stories and the editorial and logistical processes of creating a docuseries — enable a candid investigation of the ramifications of “telling your story” on the documentary mass market scale. At a moment when personal stories are being increasingly monetized across the spectrum—not only in media but also in social movements, politics, and advertising—my series seeks to expose and reimagine the terms of documentary production for subjects and documentarians alike.
Shane, Jess, "Shocking, Heartbreaking, Transformative" (2023). CUNY Academic Works.