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Ellen Spiro Biography,Age,Height,history,Net Worth and Interview

Ellen Spiro Biography

Ellen Spiro is an American documentary filmmaker. She is a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fulbright Fellow, a two-time Rockefeller Fellow, and an Emmy Award winner. She won the National Board of Review’s Best Documentary award.

She was short-listed for an Academy Award in the category of Best Long Form Documentary and Producer’s Guild Best Documentary award nominee. Spiro is known for making humorous social issue films for national and international television broadcasts (HBO, PBS, Sundance, BBC) and theatrical release.

Ellen Spiro Age

Spiro was born in 1968 in New Brunswick New Jersey, United States. She is 51 years old.

Ellen Spiro Height

She stands a height of 1,78 meters tall and also has a body weight of 73kg.

Ellen Spiro Image

Ellen Spiro

Ellen Spiro history

In 1988 Spiro was awarded a post-graduate fellowship in Manhattan to study art and critical theory in the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. While in Manhattan, Spiro studied with Hal Foster and Douglas Crimp and was a cinematographer for experimental filmmaker Yvonne Rainer’s award-winning film, Privilege.

While in New York, Spiro became active in the AIDS activist organization ACT-UP and co-founded DIVA TV (Damned Interfering Video Activist Television). While working with ACT-UP Spiro made her first documentary, Diana’s Hair Ego, which was the first small-format 8mm video to be broadcast on national television.

Filmmaking on the road and pioneering video format for the mainstream (1993–2002)
In 1993 Spiro was awarded funding from ITVS, the Independent Television Service, for her film Greetings From Out Here.

Filming as a one-woman crew, she lived in a van for a year while traveling across the Deep South to shoot stories of gay and lesbian southerners. Using small Hi-8 video equipment and a converted old van as a mobile living and production unit Spiro immersed herself in her environment allowing her to stay with her subjects for long periods

. Greetings From Out Here was the first ITVS program to be broadcast nationally and received an invitation to the Sundance Film Festival. It was acquired for international broadcasts by BBC, Channel Four, Canadian Broadcasting Company and others.

In 1994, Spiro took her first full-time teaching position at Hampshire College where she taught video production and Gender Studies. After teaching for a year she embarked on her second year-long solo road trip (this time in a vintage Airstream trailer), to make Roam Sweet Home, funded by Channel Four in the UK and ITVS.

After the national broadcast of Roam Sweet Home on PBS, Spiro moved to Austin, Texas and became a professor in the Radio-TV-Film Department at the University of Texas.

2001–2007
In 2001, Spiro released her first documentary for HBO, Atomic Ed, and the Black Hole. Spiro also created the 10 Under 10 Film Festival in Austin, TX. The festival is “a celebration of raw creativity, real reality – as opposed to the scripted television kind – and founded on the notion that great ideas can happen on no budget and in little time.”

As a film professor at the University of Texas, Spiro says she’s watched too many students get caught in the “film school debt romance” and challenges a new generation of filmmakers to make films with “little money but lots of substance and inventiveness”.

In 2003 the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health approached Spiro and producer Karen Bernstein to make a film about the mental health care crisis for children in Texas. The resulting film, Are the Kids Alright?, won an Emmy Award and recognition from the Mental Health Association of Texas.

In 2005 Spiro and Bernstein produced Troop 1500, about a group of Girl Scouts with mothers in prison. Troop 1500 won two Gracie Awards, for Outstanding Director and Outstanding Documentary, from the American Women in Radio and Television.

In 2006, Ellen Spiro was awarded an artist’s residency at the Bellagio Center, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, in Bellagio, Italy. She also began working with Phil Donahue on Body of War, a film about paralyzed Iraq War veteran Tomas Young.

Body of War premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival where it won the People’s Choice Award (runner-up) and the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Hamptons International Film Festival. In November 2007, Body of War named as one of fifteen films to be considered for nomination for an Academy Award.

In December, Body of War was named Best Documentary of 2007 by the National Board of Review. Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue appeared on Bill Moyers Journal for a one-hour special about Body of War.

Ellen Spiro Net Worth

Her net worth at the moment in 2019 is about $202,3 million.

Ellen Spiro Interview

Interview: Ellen Spiro (co-director for Body of War)
The title of the new documentary “Body of War” refers to the paralyzed body of Iraq War Veteran Thomas Young. After being struck in the spine by sniper fire, Young returns home frustrated with his physical limitations and with a government he feels has lied to him. The film captures Young’s transformation from a patriot, who signed up for the Army on September 12th, 2001, to an anti-war activist.

The title of the new documentary Body of War refers to the paralyzed body of Iraq War Veteran Thomas Young. After being struck in the spine by sniper fire, Young returns home frustrated with his physical limitations and with a government he feels has lied to him. The film captures Young’s transformation from a patriot, who signed up for the Army on September 12th, 2001, to an anti-war activist. Young takes up a new weapon, that of his voice, as he speaks out on 60 Minutes, in Washington, and at rallies and churches across the country.

Phil Donahue met Thomas at a VA hospital and saw a story that was missing in the media. He decided to create an intimate portrait of the 20-year-old and brought on acclaimed documentarian Ellen Spiro to co-direct the film. While Spiro focused on Young’s life, love and family, Donahue pursued a second storyline about Congress’ vote in 2003 to go to war. Senator Robert Byrd becomes the hero of this parallel storyline and his speeches to the Senate are a glorious, if depressing, reminder of the stand many took to keep the Executive Branch’s power in check.

Ellen Spiro is responsible for the intimate footage in Young’s home as he deals with his immobility, physical pain, and impotence. His anger and humor ebb and flow through a marriage, subsequent divorce, and visits to the hospital where he is given little care and a mountain of pills. It is an intimate portrait of the people most directly affected by war, from those who fought, to the thousands of families that must care for the wounded or grieve for their dead.

RETRO IONCINEMA.COM Interview: Ellen Spiro (co-director for Body of War)
The title of the new documentary “Body of War” refers to the paralyzed body of Iraq War Veteran Thomas Young. After being struck in the spine by sniper fire, Young returns home frustrated with his physical limitations and with a government he feels has lied to him. The film captures Young’s transformation from a patriot, who signed up for the Army on September 12th, 2001, to an anti-war activist.

SHARES
The title of the new documentary Body of War refers to the paralyzed body of Iraq War Veteran Thomas Young. After being struck in the spine by sniper fire, Young returns home frustrated with his physical limitations and with a government he feels has lied to him. The film captures Young’s transformation from a patriot, who signed up for the Army on September 12th, 2001, to an anti-war activist. Young takes up a new weapon, that of his voice, as he speaks out on 60 Minutes, in Washington, and at rallies and churches across the country.

Phil Donahue met Thomas at a VA hospital and saw a story that was missing in the media. He decided to create an intimate portrait of the 20-year-old and brought on acclaimed documentarian Ellen Spiro to co-direct the film. While Spiro focused on Young’s life, love and family, Donahue pursued a second storyline about Congress’ vote in 2003 to go to war. Senator Robert Byrd becomes the hero of this parallel storyline and his speeches to the Senate are a glorious, if depressing, reminder of the stand many took to keep the Executive Branch’s power in check.

Ellen Spiro is responsible for the intimate footage in Young’s home as he deals with his immobility, physical pain, and impotence. His anger and humor ebb and flow through a marriage, subsequent divorce, and visits to the hospital where he is given little care and a mountain of pills. It is an intimate portrait of the people most directly affected by war, from those who fought, to the thousands of families that must care for the wounded or grieve for their dead.

Laura Newman: Thomas Young wasn’t an activist at the beginning; that really came about during the process of filming. Did you set out knowing or hoping that was going to happen?
Ellen Spiro: It was all in his thought process and bumper stickers [laughs] but it wasn’t, in a way, evolved and I think it was also just this moment in time, in history where his voice was missing from the culture: the voice of a soldier who had kind of figured out what was going on, deciding to speak out against it and realizing that everybody wanted to hear what he had to say.

So, it was a great thing. The fact that I was following him with a camera, well, the camera always has some effect. In this case, the effect was probably inspiring him to speak out more and to make his life go in an interesting direction. At one point he said to me, “My life is so boring; why do you want to keep filming it? This is going to be a really boring film.” And I said, “Well, really, you are the director of your own life. I may be the director of this film but you are the director of your life and the story is about your life, which kind of makes you a co-director on the film.” So we had a funny and frank discussion about that.

I said, “I’m going to follow you whatever happens.” I think the fact that he was being listened to might have been further inspiration for him to go out there and do what he was doing. I know that doesn’t sound like “Documentary Cinéma-Vérité Ethics 101” but the reality is that our cameras ALWAYS affect things. The question is how are you going to affect them. Are you going to make people’s lives worse or better?
N: Having your life filmed places importance on it and a context that your life is a “story” and you are your own director.

ES: I’ve seen this with all my films. People are like, “Wow, I’m important enough that this person is filming me and listening and wants everybody else to know my story.” Then they sort of rising more to the occasion. I think their lives become more interesting.

LN: Tell me the story of how you met Thomas.
ES: It was actually Phil Donahue who met Thomas in Walter Reed Army Hospital. After Phil met Thomas and couldn’t stop thinking about him he decided to make a documentary and was given my phone number. We talked and talked and I realized that the first step would be for me to meet Thomas.

Phil Donahue or not, I wouldn’t do a documentary if I didn’t think the character, especially if it’s based mainly around one character, was strong enough and interesting enough. So, I met Phil Donahue in Kansas City and we went to Thomas Young’s house and sure enough, Thomas blew me away. Not in a flamboyant, expressive way but in a more subtle, deep way.

I knew this kid had a story to tell and that he was capable of telling it from the moment I met him, even though when I met him he was in pretty bad shape. He was on a lot of morphine but he still had this great sense of humor and eloquence.
RETRO IONCINEMA.COM Interview: Ellen Spiro (co-director for Body of War)
The title of the new documentary “Body of War” refers to the paralyzed body of Iraq War Veteran Thomas Young. After being struck in the spine by sniper fire, Young returns home frustrated with his physical limitations and with a government he feels has lied to him. The film captures Young’s transformation from a patriot, who signed up for the Army on September 12th, 2001, to an anti-war activist.

SHARES
The title of the new documentary Body of War refers to the paralyzed body of Iraq War Veteran Thomas Young. After being struck in the spine by sniper fire, Young returns home frustrated with his physical limitations and with a government he feels has lied to him. The film captures Young’s transformation from a patriot, who signed up for the Army on September 12th, 2001, to an anti-war activist. Young takes up a new weapon, that of his voice, as he speaks out on 60 Minutes, in Washington, and at rallies and churches across the country.

Phil Donahue met Thomas at a VA hospital and saw a story that was missing in the media. He decided to create an intimate portrait of the 20-year-old and brought on acclaimed documentarian Ellen Spiro to co-direct the film. While Spiro focused on Young’s life, love and family, Donahue pursued a second storyline about Congress’ vote in 2003 to go to war. Senator Robert Byrd becomes the hero of this parallel storyline and his speeches to the Senate are a glorious, if depressing, reminder of the stand many took to keep the Executive Branch’s power in check.

Ellen Spiro is responsible for the intimate footage in Young’s home as he deals with his immobility, physical pain, and impotence. His anger and humor ebb and flow through a marriage, subsequent divorce and visits to the hospital where he is given little care and a mountain of pills. It is an intimate portrait of the people most directly affected by war, from those who fought, to the thousands of families that must care for the wounded or grieve for their dead.

Laura Newman: Thomas Young wasn’t an activist at the beginning; that really came about during the process of filming. Did you set out knowing or hoping that was going to happen?
Ellen Spiro: It was all in his thought process and bumper stickers [laughs] but it wasn’t, in a way, evolved and I think it was also just this moment in time, in history where his voice was missing from the culture: the voice of a soldier who had kind of figured out what was going on, deciding to speak out against it and realizing that everybody wanted to hear what he had to say.

So, it was a great thing. The fact that I was following him with a camera, well, the camera always has some effect. In this case, the effect was probably inspiring him to speak out more and to make his life go in an interesting direction.

At one point he said to me, “My life is so boring; why do you want to keep filming it? This is going to be a really boring film.” And I said, “Well, really, you are the director of your own life. I may be the director of this film but you are the director of your life and the story is about your life, which kind of makes you a co-director on the film.

” So we had a funny and frank discussion about that. I said, “I’m going to follow you whatever happens.” I think the fact that he was being listened to might have been further inspiration for him to go out there and do what he was doing. I know that doesn’t sound like “Documentary Cinéma-Vérité Ethics 101” but the reality is that our cameras ALWAYS affect things. The question is how are you going to affect them. Are you going to make people’s lives worse or better?

Young in D.C.

LN: Having your life filmed places importance on it and a context that your life is a “story” and you are your own director.
ES: I’ve seen this with all my films. People are like, “Wow, I’m important enough that this person is filming me and listening and wants everybody else to know my story.” Then they sort of rise more to the occasion. I think their lives become more interesting.

LN: Tell me the story of how you met Thomas.
ES: It was actually Phil Donahue who met Thomas in Walter Reed Army Hospital. After Phil met Thomas and couldn’t stop thinking about him he decided to make a documentary and was given my phone number. We talked and talked and I realized that the first step would be for me to meet Thomas.

Phil Donahue or not, I wouldn’t do a documentary if I didn’t think the character, especially if it’s based mainly around one character, was strong enough and interesting enough. So, I met Phil Donahue in Kansas City and we went to Thomas Young’s house and sure enough Thomas blew me away. Not in a flamboyant, expressive way but in a more subtle, deep way.

I knew this kid had a story to tell and that he was capable of telling it from the moment I met him, even though when I met him he was in pretty bad shape. He was on a lot of morphine but he still had this great sense of humor and eloquence.

Young at Protest in BODY OF WAR

LN: How long did it take for him to really become comfortable around the cameras?
ES:
I think it was really about our relationship and how long it took him
to be comfortable around me. That happened over time for sure. I
didn’t just walk in. We spent a lot of time together before we filmed
the really intimate scenes.

LN: When you say “spending time together” was that through a process of interviews or was that without the camera too?
ES:
We sat around and talked a lot without me filming. I work fairly
intuitively and when the moment’s right and there is something
interesting going on, that’s when I pull out the camera.

LN: Did you work primarily as a one-woman band? I know you’ve done that on other films; it’s just been you and the camera.
ES: There were two kinds of shoots in the film. The intimate ones that the reviewers tend to be talking about were just me. The ones that were more public, like Thomas, speaks at the church in Brooklyn and Thomas goes to the march on Washington, and Thomas gets married were with more camera and sound people. For the more public events, we had multiple cameras.

LN: At what point in the process of filming his life did you decide to include the parallel story of Congress debating the start of the Iraq war.
ES: That was Phil Donahue’s idea and I guess it was probably midway through the process.

LN: Did it change a lot as the process grew? Obviously, you had a real stylistic thing you were doing with the quick clips and counting off the votes.
ES: It went from being tedious and monotonous to being dynamic and telling. It went from a lot of material into something very energetic.
RETRO IONCINEMA.COM Interview: Ellen Spiro (co-director for Body of War)
The title of the new documentary “Body of War” refers to the paralyzed body of Iraq War Veteran Thomas Young. After being struck in the spine by sniper fire, Young returns home frustrated with his physical limitations and with a government he feels has lied to him. The film captures Young’s transformation from a patriot, who signed up for the Army on September 12th, 2001, to an anti-war activist.

ByLaura Newman published on April 18, 2008 SHARE TWEET COMMENT
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The title of the new documentary Body of War refers to the paralyzed body of Iraq War Veteran Thomas Young. After being struck in the spine by sniper fire, Young returns home frustrated with his physical limitations and with a government he feels has lied to him. The film captures Young’s transformation from a patriot, who signed up for the Army on September 12th, 2001, to an anti-war activist. Young takes up a new weapon, that of his voice, as he speaks out on 60 Minutes, in Washington, and at rallies and churches across the country.

Phil Donahue met Thomas at a VA hospital and saw a story that was missing in the media. He decided to create an intimate portrait of the 20-year-old and brought on acclaimed documentarian Ellen Spiro to co-direct the film. While Spiro focused on Young’s life, love and family, Donahue pursued a second storyline about Congress’ vote in 2003 to go to war. Senator Robert Byrd becomes the hero of this parallel storyline and his speeches to the Senate are a glorious, if depressing, reminder of the stand many took to keep the Executive Branch’s power in check.

Ellen Spiro is responsible for the intimate footage in Young’s home as he deals with his immobility, physical pain and impotence. His anger and humor ebb and flow through a marriage, subsequent divorce, and visits to the hospital where he is given little care and a mountain of pills. It is an intimate portrait of the people most directly affected by war, from those who fought, to the thousands of families that must care for the wounded or grieve for their dead.

Laura Newman: Thomas Young wasn’t an activist at the beginning; that really came about during the process of filming. Did you set out knowing or hoping that was going to happen?
Ellen Spiro: It was all in his thought process and bumper stickers [laughs] but it wasn’t, in a way, evolved and I think it was also just this moment in time, in history where his voice was missing from the culture: the voice of a soldier who had kind of figured out what was going on, deciding to speak out against it and realizing that everybody wanted to hear what he had to say. So, it was a great thing.

The fact that I was following him with a camera, well, the camera always has some effect. In this case, the effect was probably inspiring him to speak out more and to make his life go in an interesting direction. At one point he said to me, “My life is so boring; why do you want to keep filming it? This is going to be a really boring film.” And I said, “Well, really, you are the director of your own life.

I may be the director of this film but you are the director of your life and the story is about your life, which kind of makes you a co-director on the film.” So we had a funny and frank discussion about that. I said, “I’m going to follow you whatever happens.” I think the fact that he was being listened to might have been further inspiration for him to go out there and do what he was doing. I know that doesn’t sound like “Documentary Cinéma-Vérité Ethics 101” but the reality is that our cameras ALWAYS affect things. The question is how are you going to affect them. Are you going to make people’s lives worse or better?

Young in D.C.

LN: Having your life filmed places importance on it and a context that your life is a “story” and you are your own director.
ES: I’ve seen this with all my films. People are like, “Wow, I’m important enough that this person is filming me and listening and wants everybody else to know my story.” Then they sort of rising more to the occasion. I think their lives become more interesting.

LN: Tell me the story of how you met Thomas.
ES: It was actually Phil Donahue who met Thomas in Walter Reed Army Hospital. After Phil met Thomas and couldn’t stop thinking about him he decided to make a documentary and was given my phone number. We talked and talked and I realized that the first step would be for me to meet Thomas.

Phil Donahue or not, I wouldn’t do a documentary if I didn’t think the character, especially if it’s based mainly around one character, was strong enough and interesting enough. So, I met Phil Donahue in Kansas City and we went to Thomas Young’s house and sure enough, Thomas blew me away. Not in a flamboyant, expressive way but in a more subtle, deep way. I knew this kid had a story to tell and that he was capable of telling it from the moment I met him, even though when I met him he was in pretty bad shape. He was on a lot of morphine but he still had this great sense of humor and eloquence.

Young at Protest in BODY OF WAR

LN: How long did it take for him to really become comfortable around the cameras?
ES:
I think it was really about our relationship and how long it took him
to be comfortable around me. That happened over time for sure. I
didn’t just walk in. We spent a lot of time together before we filmed
the really intimate scenes.

LN: When you say “spending time together” was that through a process of interviews or was that without the camera too?
ES:
We sat around and talked a lot without me filming. I work fairly
intuitively and when the moment’s right and there is something
interesting going on, that’s when I pull out the camera.

LN: Did you work primarily as a one-woman band? I know you’ve done that on other films; it’s just been you and the camera.
ES: There were two kinds of shoots in the film. The intimate ones that the reviewers tend to be talking about were just me. The ones that were more public, like Thomas, speaks at the church in Brooklyn and Thomas goes to the march on Washington, and Thomas gets married were with more camera and sound people. For the more public events, we had multiple cameras.

LN: At what point in the process of filming his life did you decide to include the parallel story of Congress debating the start of the Iraq war.
ES: That was Phil Donahue’s idea and I guess it was probably midway through the process.

LN: Did it change a lot as the process grew? Obviously, you had a real stylistic thing you were doing with the quick clips and counting off the votes.
ES: It went from being tedious and monotonous to being dynamic and telling. It went from a lot of material into something very energetic.

Senator Bryd and Young in BODY OF WAR

LN: Especially with Senator Byrd at the helm. I’ve only just started
to know about him because of Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope and him
has a few pages he dedicated to Byrd’s incredible history in the
Senate.

I think it’s really important that his voice is being made
more present in the culture through your film. That meeting between
Byrd and Thomas was such a great cumulation of these two voices against
the war to come together. Was that really an ending to your filming?
ES: It was really the ending. In fact it’s when we knew the film was
over because it was such a perfect ending; a uniting of the two threads
of the film. Byrd is amazing. He’s one of the heroes of our film.
His fragility and Thomas’ fragility to me, represent the fragility of
our democracy but also the hope that people can change the course of
history if they put their mind to it and if they believe strong enough
in it.

LN: I wonder if documentaries are increasingly popular right now
because the media is not stepping up to the plate and giving the public
the information that they want and the detail they want. Filmmakers
and some journalists have stepped into the documentary world especially
to address the issue of the war.

I’m curious about your feelings on
this and doAll Postscumentaries as a source of journalism today.
ES: I think that if we had journalists and the media doing their jobs
we wouldn’t need any of these documentaries. The reason there have
been so many Iraq War documentaries is that there has been such bad
superficial coverage from the mainstream media. We felt there was a
gap that needed to be filled. Even with all the Iraq documentaries,
there are still gaps that need to be filled and there are more stories
having to do with this war that hasn’t been told. Every single Iraq
documentary has a unique angle and perspective that’s not a repetition of
the others.

Film Sales Company released Body of War on April 9th in NYC. Look for a limited released in theaters in the upcoming weeks.

Source:www.ioncinema.com

Ellen Spiro Instagram