I started learning Latin in 10th grade. I loved it because it was challenging, and I love a good challenge. It felt so mysterious and cryptic. And when I cracked that secret code, it filled me with such joy. I remember vividly the first time I was able to read and understand Ovid's Metamorphoses. I was 15, and I was so moved by the myths that I cried. The cadence of the verses, the haunting visual images, the heart-breakingly beautiful metaphors filled me with awe. I threw myself headlong into the Classics. I dropped out of high school and moved to a Greek island, where I became a weaver's apprentice. The day I arrived, I spoke Ancient Greek to the cab driver. He wondered where I had learned such archaic vocabulary. I went on to study Classics in college (Oberlin) and then to earn Masters Degrees in Classics (from Columbia and Princeton) and a PhD in Classics and Comparative Literature from Princeton.
After graduate school, I followed my passion for languages, mythology and studying other cultures, into the field of filmmaking, where I worked as an Associate and Field Producer for NOVA, Frontline, PBS, Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, Turner Broadcasting, American Experience, National Audubon Society, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. In 1999, I began producing, directing, and writing films for the History Channel, MSNBC, Warren Miller Films, and HGTV. In 2004, I founded LILA FILMS, a full-service video production company in Boulder, Colorado. LILA FILMS specializes in telling stories about the interconnectedness between people, public health, and the environment. I have filmed in in Peru, Mali, Kenya, Tanzania, Panama, Mexico, Israel, Turkey, Italy, India, Bali, Thailand, Belize, England, as well as throughout the United States. I have filmed in countries without electricity and running water and in high tech operating rooms, in prisons, classrooms, laboratories, and community gardens. Wherever the story is, I will follow it. My independent film SHAKEN: Journey into the Mind of a Parkinson’s Patient was broadcast on public television to millions of viewers and won numerous awards, including the 2007 Humanitarian Award, two Telly Awards and a CINE Golden Eagle Award.
I am grateful for the solid foundation that studying the Classics has given me. It's like a skeleton key that opens every door. I use my Classics education every day in my work as a filmmaker--and I also used it daily in the two-year stint I spent getting a post-baccaluareate pre-medical degree (mostly for the vocabulary, which was the easiest part for me). Whether I'm researching a story or interviewing experts about a wide range of subjects, speaking a foreign language, writing a script or editing a film with layers of metaphor, I feel like I am always drawing on those skills I learned as a young student. Making a film is a lot like translating a text. At first, it seems impossible, impenetrable. You get a few of the pieces in place, then you get the gist of the whole, and soon, after staring at it long enough, the whole timeline comes together and there's a wonderful story there, just waiting to be revealed. You patiently move between the subtle details of every word/frame and zoom out to the greater context of the whole. You feel the rhythm, the pacing, the emotion, the cadence. And then miraculously, something magical pops out before your eyes that was there all along, just waiting for you.