Carolyn Jones MasterclassEmotional intelligence in Documentary Filmmaking

Sometimes, we face the challenge of interviewing someone whose life experience is so different from our own that we have to search to find a way to connect, a way to make that person feel safe and secure enough to open up and share a bit of their life with us. When we do that well, it can be cathartic for the individual being interviewed, and an enormous privilege for the interviewer. How do we get there?

In this presentation, I will share the evolution of my interview process and offer some guidance on how to break down barriers to tell the most authentic stories we can. I will share footage and interviews from my books and films, which show how working with nurses–especially hospice nurses who are often gifted with enormous emotional intelligence–taught me the most about the interview process. 

Carolyn Jones is an award-winning photographer and filmmaker who specializes in telling stories that shed light on issues of global concern. From people “living positively” with AIDS to women artists supporting entire communities and nurses on the front lines of our healthcare system, Jones has devoted her career to celebrating invisible populations and breaking down barriers. Her most widely acclaimed book publications include Living Proof: Courage in the Face of AIDS and The American Nurse, which led to a feature documentary. Her award-winning documentary Defining Hope, which was the culmination of a journey investigating how we can make better end-of-life choices, was broadcast over 1,000 times on PBS stations nationwide. Carolyn’s most recent film, a documentary called In Case of Emergency, focuses on our nation’s biggest public health challenges—from COVID-19 to a lack of health insurance to the devastating impact of the opioid crisis. Carolyn is currently working on a new documentary film that examines the maternal mortality and morbidity crisis, and the solutions that can move the needle on improving those outcomes.


DJ Johnson, MFAStorytelling for Social Impact


Izzy ChanDeveloping a Communications Strategy for Your Documentary