Damani Baker

BA, Sarah Lawrence College. BA, MFA, University of California-Los Angeles, School of Film and Television. Selected by Filmmaker Magazine as one of “25 new faces in independent film,” his career spans documentaries, music videos, museum installations, and advertisements. Documentaries include The House on Coco Road, which revisits the events and circumstances of the 1983 US invasion of Grenada, and Return, an award-winning film that explores the genius of traditional African medicine. Directed music videos for Maiysha’s single, “Wanna Be,” which was nominated for a 2009 Grammy, and Morley’s “Women of Hope,” which was inspired by pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi. As a director, commercial clients have included Nike/Wieden & Kennedy and their 2006 World Cup “Play Beautiful” campaign and IBM. Shot several viral campaigns for Puma, Wired Magazine, BMW, and Apple for Late Night and Weekends. His first feature documentary, Still Bill, on the life and music of Bill Withers opened theatrically in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Still Bill had its television premiere on Showtime and has been seen on outlets globally, including BBC. In 2010, he shot Music for Andrew Zuckerman, a series of interviews with 50 prominent musicians, and directed two more videos in Morocco for Morley. Current projects include more than 10 films for museums in Nigeria and in Chattanooga, Tennessee, for Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Inc. These films include interviews with President Bill Clinton, Dr. Kofi Annan, and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. In addition, he is the director of the Quest forGlobal Healing Film Series in Bali, Indonesia, and media collaborator with the International Budget Partnership, tracking government transparency through budgets around the world. SLC, 2003–

Undergraduate Courses 2017-2018

Filmmaking and Moving Image Arts

Documentary Filmmaking: Truth, Freedom, and Bearing Witness

Open , Seminar—Year

Nonfiction is our search for the truth; it is an exploration in humanity—our beauty, complexities, and the often unimaginable. This class is designed for students who, through filmmaking, hope to move humanity one step closer to understanding who we are and how connected our life experiences may be. In this yearlong course, students produce one 15- to 30-minute documentary on the subject of their own choosing. Students will develop treatments, pitch their projects, create production schedules, and work in small teams to create their films. Each week, students must demonstrate clear progress on their projects, including outlined shoot dates, updates on production needs, screening of unedited material, assembly cuts, rough cuts, and the eventual final delivery of their conference films. During class, we will screen short- and long-form documentary films from around the world, complemented by hands-on production techniques and experience. Although this is an open class, students must be prepared to learn camera operation, sound recording, and lighting with diligence and professionalism. Each student will direct his/her own project; however, the crew will be made up of their peers, who will be trusted with delivering strong technical material. This course will challenge students to think beyond the beautiful gates of Sarah Lawrence and take on subjects and opportunities that are new spaces both emotionally and physically. Nonfiction requires passion for storytelling and, ultimately, a passion for people. We hope to finish the year with a lens on the world that’s evolved to new heights of understanding and compassion.

Faculty

Previous Courses

Filmmaking: Visions of Social Justice I

Open , Seminar—Fall

In this course, students will collaborate with local nonprofit organizations to produce a three- to five-minute film that will be a portrait of the organization and speak to its cause. The projects are a combination of advertising and research, providing valuable content for underrepresented and marginalized communities. The class will work in teams to produce their films and, ultimately, deliver material to our partner organizations to be used online. Local travel is involved, along with many shoots in neighborhoods that our partners serve. Students will be encouraged to think beyond a traditional nonfiction short film and explore all forms of brand content that may include animation, high-concept advertising, the integration of media platforms, and other forms of social engagement.

Faculty

Filmmaking: Visions of Social Justice II

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Spring

A continuation of the fall semester, students will collaborate with local nonprofit organizations to produce a three- to five-minute film that will be a portrait of the organization and speak to its cause. The projects are a combination of advertising and research, providing valuable content for underrepresented and marginalized communities. The class will work in teams to produce their films and, ultimately, deliver material to our partner organizations to be used online. Local travel is involved, along with many shoots in neighborhoods that our partners serve. Students will be encouraged to think beyond a traditional nonfiction short film and explore all forms of brand content that may include animation, the integration of social media platforms, and other forms of engagement.

Faculty

Sustainable Content: Like This, Share This, Follow Me!

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course is designed for students who wish to create fiction films, nonfiction films, and media exclusively for a Web audience. The course largely centers on gaining practical film/media production experience; however, students are encouraged to produce material that builds community and engages its audience beyond a single view. Through storytelling, students will explore ways to best utilize democratized and participatory spaces online. Projects may include unique approaches to scripted material, socially relevant short-form documentary, music-inspired visual storytelling, and the like. Students are encouraged to be innovative, provocative, and responsible in their online film and media making. Broken into three teams of five, students will work within their crews to produce pieces of content during the semester. Several small exercises accompany the larger projects, with components that include research, pitching, and technical proficiency. The final presentation is an opportunity for students to screen their work and present how they plan to reach their target audience(s) and why their chosen platform is the appropriate home in which their media should live. Open to all with passion and drive for Web media creation.

Faculty

Filmmaking: Frame by Frame—New Visions

Intermediate/Advanced , Seminar—Spring

Previous film experience is required, along with permission of the instructor.

This course is for intermediate and advanced students who wish to “think cinematically.” It will be an intensive, hands-on course in filmmaking. Students will explore the structure and aesthetics of films from around the world, while gaining practical experience transforming their own ideas into action. They will work individually and in groups through several exercises and then produce a preconceived, thesis-quality, short film/media project during the semester. A limited group of students with a strong passion for filmmaking are encouraged to join us for a course designed to help transition SLC's inspiring creative freedom into the next steps and practical application. We will spend considerable time not only producing films but also developing the skills and language to distribute our ideas to a larger audience—including, but not limited to, film festivals and social media platforms.

Faculty

First-Year Studies: Sustainable Content: An Introduction to Media Creation for the Web

Open , FYS

This course is designed for students who wish to create fiction films, nonfiction films, and media exclusively for a Web audience. The course largely centers on gaining practical film/media production experience; however, students are encouraged to produce material that builds community and engages its audience beyond a single view. Through storytelling, students explore ways to best utilize democratized and participatory spaces online. Projects may include unique approaches to scripted material, socially relevant short-form documentary, music-inspired visual storytelling, and the like. Students are encouraged to be innovative, provocative, and responsible in their online film- and media-making. In three teams of five, students will work within their crews to produce three pieces of content during the year. Several small exercises accompany the larger projects with components that include research, pitching, and technical proficiency. The year-end final presentation is an opportunity for students to screen their work and present how they plan to reach their target audience(s) and why their chosen platform is the appropriate home in which their media should live.

Faculty
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