Current Mentors

Cecile Weiland

Cecile Weiland is an award-winning Executive Producer at Travel Channel and Discovery+ in non-fiction paranormal and unexplained content. Before joining Warner Bros. Discovery, Cecile spent many years as a freelancer – showrunning, field producing, post producing, script writing, and directing documentaries. Her storytelling has spanned across all genres for the Discovery networks, National Geographic, MTV, VH1, A&E, truTV, NPR, PBS, ABC, CBS, and NBC… From true crime, paranormal, health/medical docudramas and episodic series, to directing The Real World in Paris, entering the homes of hoarders, filming women giving birth, covering live events such the Olympics in France and Norway, interviewing a convicted killer in prison, and filming an active volcano in Hawaii. She is passionate about bringing all types of stories to life onscreen and constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in documentary filmmaking.

Previous Mentors

Thomas Lennon

Thomas Lennon’s work in documentary film has earned him an Academy Award and four Academy nominations.  His good fortune has often come in pairs:  two national Emmys, two duPont-Columbia awards, two George Foster Peabody awards, and two films that premiered at Sundance.  

His most recent film, Knife Skills, was nominated for an Oscar in 2018. He directed the vast international film Sacred , which screened at 25 film festivals world-wide and aired nationally on PBS in 2018. With Ruby Yang, Lennon made a trilogy of films set in China, including The Warriors of Qiugang,  Oscar-nominated in 2011 and The Blood of Yingzhou District (HBO) which won an Oscar in 2007. He and Yang created groundbreaking AIDS awareness messages seen over a billion times on Chinese television and the Internet, probably the largest AIDS campaign ever created.  

Lennon directed two historical series for PBS, most recently Becoming American, the story of Chinese immigration, with Bill Moyers.  Lennon’s The Battle over Citizen Kane was featured at the Sundance and Berlin film festivals among many others and Ridley Scott’s production company adapted it as an HBO drama starring John Malkovich and Liev Schreiber.  Lennon also directed acclaimed films for the contemporary and historical strands on public television, Frontline and The American Experience. Lennon recently joined the faculty of Rutgers University as Director of the Documentary Film Lab.

Daniel DiMauro

Daniel DiMauro is a documentary film director, producer and editor from Brooklyn, NY. He is best known for The Swamp (2020), an HBO Film, and Get Me Roger Stone (2017), a Netflix Original film which had its premiere at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. DiMauro has worked as a producer or editor on other documentaries such as Denial (2016), (T)ERROR (2015), The House I Live In (2012), Reagan (2011) and The King (2017).

Gary Hustwit

Gary Hustwit is an independent filmmaker and photographer based in New York. He has produced 13 feature documentaries, including the award-winning I Am Trying To Break Your Heart about the band Wilco. In 2007 he made his directorial debut with Helvetica, the world’s first feature-length documentary about graphic design and typography. The film marked the beginning of a design film trilogy, with Objectified, about industrial design and product design following in 2009, and Urbanized, about the design of cities, in 2011. The films have been broadcast on PBS, BBC, HBO and television outlets in 20 countries, and have been screened in over 300 cities worldwide. His most recent feature, Rams, about German design legend Dieter Rams with original music by Brian Eno, was released in 2019. Gary’s films have screened at the Sundance Film Festival, the South by Southwest Film Festival, and the Toronto International Film Festival, among others. He was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Helvetica, and has served on the grand juries of the Sundance Film Festival, the IFP Gotham Awards, and the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. Gary was named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company. He is a member of the Documentary Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Gretchen Hildebran

Gretchen Hildebran is a documentary filmmaker engaged with the intersection of politics, policy and human experience. Credits include: WORTH SAVING (2004), about drugs users in San Francisco taking action to save each other’s lives, which was presented in HBO’s Frame by Frame showcase. A graduate of Stanford’s documentary program, Hildebran shot Ramona Diaz’s THE LEARNING (2011) and has edited for the History Channel, PBS and the United Nations and on independent documentaries. Gretchen also has produced several short documentaries about harm reduction, to educate diverse audiences about life-saving interventions such as needle exchange and overdose prevention. More recently, she was a co-producer and co-director of DECADE OF FIRE, about the fires that destroyed the South Bronx in the 1970s, which broadcast on Independent Lens in 2019.  

David Sampliner

David Sampliner is an award-winning documentary director, producer, and cinematographer whose films have screened at Sundance, Tribeca, and Full Frame, among others, and have been distributed by Netflix, the Sundance Channel, and Sony Pictures.  His most recent documentary feature MY OWN MAN premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival and was acquired by Netflix as a Netflix Original documentary.  His first documentary feature DIRTY WORK (co-directed with Tim Nackashi) screened at the Sundance Film Festival, won Best Documentary Feature at the Atlanta Film Festival, aired on the Sundance Channel, and is now available on Itunes, Hulu, and other digital platforms.  In 2020, a short documentary he co-directed, produced, and shot called LA PASTORA will premiere at Middlebury New Filmmakers’ Festival.  In 2017, his short documentary BROTHERS premiered at Dok Leipzig and screened theatrically in the US.  ART, ARCHITECTURE, AND INNOVATION (co-directed with Tom Piper and Rachel Shuman), a film about the history of the Guggenheim Museum, was broadcast on WNET Channel 13 and is now on permanent exhibition at the Museum.  As a documentary cinematographer, he has shot on many acclaimed films, including KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE, GRETA VS. CLIMATE, ONE CUT ONE LIFE, and ONE OCTOBER.  The Moth podcasted his story LUCKY BASTARD as a StorySlam favorite and has aired it twice on the Moth Radio Hour.  He grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, became a documentary filmmaker in Athens, GA, and now lives with his family in Beacon, NY.