Slawomir Grunberg is an exceptional filmmaker. I first got to know his work as a cinematographer. I was so impressed with his hand-held camera work that I hired him as the Director of Photography on two PBS documentaries I’m producing. ( Aging Out on teens making the transition from foster care to independent living and Breaking the Cycle on low wage workers trying to lift their families out of poverty.) I’ve now had the pleasure of working with Slawomir during dozens of grueling shoot days. He is patient, hard working, and just as tenacious as I am in making sure that we get the full story and that we get it right. What strikes me as most unusual about Slawomir is that he thinks like a Director and Editor when he’s shooting This is a rare quality among cinematographers and one which results in footage that is a pleasure to work with in the editing room.
Most cinematographers do not consider the big picture of how to tell the full story. They are understandably focused on the few scenes that they are responsible for shooting. Slawomir, however, clearly has been in the Producer/ Director role, and his ability to see the forest through the trees has dramatically enhanced his contributions to our productions.
When I saw Fenceline, Slawomir’s recent POV production, I realized more fully why Slawomir was such a helpful collaborator. He clearly knows how to comfortably wear several hats - Producer, Director, and Cinematographer. As someone who has written, produced, and directed 22 documentaries for PBS over the past two decades ( and who received a Soros grant for my recent documentary, Sound and Fury ), I have had my share of struggles trying to figure out how to shape a story for a broad national audience. Slawomir understands how to create and sustain a strong story arch, which I believe is an essential ingredient in any successful documentary. He also has deep moral convictions. I believe that his firm principles about social justice underlie his sensibilities as a filmmaker and explain the incredible drive and passion he brings to his work.