Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

Dawn Porter, Sundance Finalist and MIPDOC Keynote on her Productions and their Inspirations

At MIPTV in Cannes, I caught up with Dawn Porter multiple Sundance finalist and this year’s MIPDOC keynote speaker.

In our latest Documentary Business webinar, Dawn describes how her Harlem family, and particularly her great, great uncle Paul Robeson provide values that inspire her filmmaking.

We discuss her recent projects as well as her present focus: developing a film about the relationship between Winnie and Nelson Mandela.

Watch here (27′)


(There are a several audio dropouts due to internet hiccups.)

[1:40] I ask about Dawn’s “Uncle Paul” Robeson.

[2:00] Facebook link to a clip of Paul Robeson singing “Old Man River” to construction workers at the Sydney Opera House. (Amazing clip! Watch it!)

[4:00] The guiding principle for Dawn’s family and community, and how it shapes her filmmaking.

[5:30] On Robeson, “They don’t go after you if you’re not powerful.”

[7:00] How Paul Robeson used his fame to lift large groups of people.

[8:30] Lady Bird Johnson also approached her job as First Lady by dedicating herself to helping the most people.

[10:i5] Lady Bird was a power behind the throne. She pressured LBJ to create the East Wing and to support her to hire all-female staff, and broke tradition by campaigning solo for her husband.

[11:00] Kamala Harris continues that role for President Biden.

[11:30] The making of The Lady Bird Diaries: discovering 120 hours of Lady Bird’s audio tapes, the archival research and Dawn’s development process.

[14:00] The all-archival film without a talking head host or narrator: Lady Bird narrates her own film.

[15:40] The official trailer for The Lady Bird Diaries and how it was created by Alan Iverson’s expert team.

[19:00] How The Lady Bird Diaries influenced the making of music doc Luther: Never Too Much.

[20:30] Distribution for this Sony-supported music doc.

[22:30] What’s next for Trilogy Films? Developing a project on Winnie and Nelson Mandela.


About Dawn Porter & Trilogy Films

Dawn’s work has been featured on HBO, Netflix, Hulu, Showtime, CNN, PBS, MSNBC, MTV Films, and other platforms.

Her latest title, the Sony Music Entertainment documentary “Luther: Never Too Much,” is a celebration of the life and work of one of the greatest musical vocalists and performers of all time, R&B singer Luther Vandross, with Jamie Foxx and Colin Firth serving as producers, premiered at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival.

Read about Dawn and Trilogy Films here.

“Porter optimistic in the face of market pressures” (by Julian Newby in MIPTV Magazine): MIPTV_DawnPorter