McKnight Media Artist Fellows Todd Cobery, Susan Marks, and Todd Melby—two filmmakers and one radio producer—track their accomplishments, from National Public Radio to Netflix to the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival in this panel discussion, copresented by Independent Film Project MN.
The purpose of the McKnight Fellowships for Media Arts program is to support excellence in the media arts for mid-career artists in Minnesota. Three $25,000 fellowships were awarded in 2013. Eligible applicants included independent producers, directors, writers, and developers in film, television, radio, web, computer/video games, transmedia, and other emerging forms of media.
About the Artists
Todd Cobery is an award-winning filmmaker working in narrative films, music videos, television, and commercials. His short films have screened internationally at genre festivals such as Fantasia and Sitges, with four projects also premiering at SXSW, including a music video for P.O.S. An accomplished film producer, his most recent feature, a 2011 IFP Narrative Lab project titled Stuck Between Stations was directed by Brady Kiernan and premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Most recently, Cobery produced and directed reenactments for the History Channel television series America Unearthed. He is currently working on a feature-length version of Eden, which will mark his feature-film directorial debut.
Susan Marks is a documentary filmmaker, screenwriter, and author. Her film on dollhouse crime scenes, Of Dolls & Murder, which features John Waters as narrator, was recently picked up for national distribution and is available on Netflix and iTunes. Marks’s The Betty Mystique, a documentary and companion book on the secret life of Betty Crocker, follows a teen who thinks Betty is her biological mother. Currently, Marks and her filmmaking partner John Kurtis Dehn are making a documentary about Frances Glessner Lee, the crime-fighting grandma who made miniature crime scenes known as the “Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death.” Marks is the recipient of two Jerome filmmaking grants and a Minnesota State Arts Board grant.
Todd Melby is lead producer of Black Gold Boom, a public media project exploring North Dakota’s oil boom. As part of the series, he directed and wrote Rough Ride: The Oil Patch Tour, an interactive documentary on the boom. In addition, Melby has cocreated five public radio documentaries on topics ranging from senior sexuality to green burial. Those documentaries have won several national prizes, including a pair of Edward R. Murrow awards.