Sandra Luckow

BA Yale University. MFA, NYU Tisch School of the Arts Film and Television. An award-winning Mexican-American filmmaker and film production educator, Luckow has taught intensive film-production workshops in the United States and abroad, designed the Anatomy of a Scene Intensive Workshop at Yale University Summer Sessions, and was a contributor to the development of the filmmaking concentration in the Art major at the Yale School of Art. She taught filmmaking for more than two decades at Yale School of Art and for more than a decade at Columbia University and Barnard College. She is also on the faculty at Wesleyan’s GLS program and an adjunct at LIM College. Luckow has taught Directing: Working With Actors Through Script Analysis, Intro and Intermediate Documentary Film Production, Writing and Directing for the Motion Picture Screen, The Anatomy of a Scene—Scene Writing for the Screen, and Capturing Stories: Documentary Filmmaking With Smartphone Technologies, among others. As a filmmaker, she produces, writes, directs, edits, and, sometimes performs in her own work and for others. Luckow founded her production company, Ojeda Films, Inc. in 2000 in order to celebrate her bicultural heritage. Sharp Edges, her first film, won the Louis Sudler Prize in the Performing and Creative Arts and became the visual bedrock of the feature film, I, Tonya; Allison Janney’s Academy Award-winning performance is a recreation of LaVona Harding from Belly Talkers, a documentary about ventriloquism that premiered in competition at Sundance. Over the years, Luckow has worked as a camera person and field producer on reality television, on documentaries such as World Birthday for New York Times/Discovery, as associate director on the daytime television drama One Live to Life, and on documentary portraiture such as A World Within, Adopted: The New American Family (China portion). She has made video content for Planned Parenthood, The MET, Yale University Art Gallery, The Africa America Institute, and The Morris Museum, among others. Twice, in Ecuador and in India, she has been part of the US State Department’s cultural exchange, Lines and Spaces, through the University of Iowa’s Writing Program. That Way Madness Lies…, a deeply personal documentary that deals with her brother’s descent into paranoid schizophrenia, was named #6 of The Wrap’s 11 Best Documentaries of 2018 and won Best of Festival at the 2018 NYC Chain Film Festival, Best Documentary at the Hot Springs International Women’s Film Festival, and a special jury prize at the Richmond International Film Festival. Luckow was nominated in 2018 by the Women’s Critic Circle; a 2021 version is currently on PBS’s streaming platform. Currently, Luckow is in production on a feature documentary, entitled ?? Danger, about Korean-American, Yale-trained psychiatrist Dr. Bandy X. Lee, who loses everything in an attempt to speak truth to power after the publication of her best-selling book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump. Luckow is also writing a one-woman theatrical show, Let Me Explain You, about being a bicultural ventriloquist; and she is working on a third draft of a feature-script. Her work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Artemis Rising Foundation, and Fork Films. Luckow is an active member of the Director’s Guild of America, The International Documentary Association, and New York Women in Film and Television. SLC, 2022-

Undergraduate Courses 2021-2022

Filmmaking and Moving Image Arts

Capturing Stories: Documentary Filmmaking With Smartphone Technologies

Open, Seminar—Spring

In this course, we will be using your smartphone and its advanced technologies to learn the basic fundamentals and techniques of motion-image capture with professional standards. In the same powerful way that 16mm film (which started as an amateur filmmaking option but became a professional standard after World War II) revolutionized documentary filmmaking, smartphones—with 4K resolutions, prime lenses, filters, stabilizers, and manual control applications—have democratized and diversified the documentary art. Smartphones provide an opportunity for the filmmaker to learn and experiment while developing aesthetic choices. Filmmakers have access to a greater breadth of subjects due to the smartphone camera’s size, mobility, and access. Through a series of practical exercises and studying what others have done, we will learn how the functional choices of the camera—aspect ratio, resolution, frame rate, aperture, ISO, depth of field, focus, shutter speed, and color balance—impact the form and function of the students’ visual language. This class is, first and foremost, an introduction to all of the steps involved in making a short (8-minute limit) documentary film from concept to collaboration to exhibition. By capturing “real” stories with all of their complexities, we establish a solid foundation for creating fictional narrative in the future. We will start with an editing exercise in Adobe Premiere in order to understand what elements are necessary to obtain during production. And, while we learn the mechanical functions of our tools, you will work with classmates to create nonfiction narratives. You will explore and practice the processes of research, planning, interviewing, writing, and gathering visual elements—both archival and captured—to tell a compelling story with integrity and responsibility toward the subject in one of four projects. The class emphasizes creative discipline, and considers ethical questions and the representation of time, space, and “the truth.” Conferences will focus on your individual goals as a documentary storyteller and your role as a collaborative contributor.

Faculty