BIO / TIMELINE

Alan and Susan Raymond

Alan and Susan in Bosnia [Children In War]

… Coming from a background of cinema vérité, the Raymonds allow meaning to emerge gradually through the direct testimonies and actions of the persons involved. The work of Video Vérité has a complexity, intimacy and accuracy almost never found on television. It gives us an understanding, not only of its particular subjects, but of what television can be.

—Amy Taubin, Contributing Editor
Film Comment

Academy Award-winning filmmakers Alan and Susan Raymond are among America’s most distinguished documentary filmmakers whose work influenced and changed the landscape of American television.

The Raymonds have currently produced a feature length documentary on education entitled JOURNEY INTO DYSLEXIA that profiles students and adults who struggled in school and then succeeded in life. This program addresses the public’s misunderstanding of learning disabilities and demonstrates the great potential of each dyslexic individual. Included are entrepreneurs, inventors, artists and Nobel Laureate Dr. Carol Greider. The program is being broadcast on HBO this spring with an outreach campaign by the International Dyslexia Association.

Beginning in 1976 with their first production using new innovative video equipment, the Raymond’s produced The Police Tapes and captured the raw and volatile nature of police work in America’s highest crime precinct — the South Bronx. This groundbreaking video was broadcast originally on WNET and acquired by ABC News. Police Tapes received 3 Prime Time Emmy Awards, a Columbia Dupont Award, and a George Foster Peabody Award and inspired the creation of Steve Bochco’s TV series Hill Street Blues and the reality TV series Cops.

The Raymonds would continue as producers for ABC News Close-up and produced the Emmy Award-winning To Die For Ireland contrasting the Irish Republican Army and The British Army during The Troubles in 1981.

Scorsese W DeNiroDeNiro and Scorsese from Hooray for Hollywood

Switching to more cultural stories, they produced Hooray for Hollywood that examined the conflict between art and commerce in the motion picture industry. The documentary includes interviews with Ridley Scott while making Bladerunner, Martin Scorsese directing Robert DeNiro for King of Comedy and Paul Schrader directing on the set of Cat People.

Previously in 1971, as the filmmakers of the seminal 1973 PBS cinema verite series An American Family, the Raymond’s captured the daily life of the Loud family and forever changed the vision of the American family on television. TV Guide designated the series as one of the “50 Greatest TV Programs” and declared it the first reality TV series. Soon to be released in 2011 with be the HBO film Cinema Verite dramatizing the behind-the-scenes story of the making of the series with actors portraying Susan and Alan. Diane Lane stars as Pat and Tim Robbins stars as Bill.

The Raymonds had a lasting 30-year friendship with the Loud family and in 1983 produced American Family Revisited, which profiled each Loud family member and their reflections upon becoming the first media celebrities in America. And sadly, in 2001, Lance asked the Raymonds to film him once more as he entered a hospice for hepatitis C/HIV co- infection. Lance Loud! A Death in An American Family was broadcast on PBS in 2003 marking the 30th anniversary of the series.

One of the highest honors bestowed on Alan and Susan was the Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary in 1994 for I Am A Promise: The Children of Stanton Elementary School, a portrait of a struggling inner-city school that signaled the deterioration of our nation’s public school system. This film garnered a Prime Time Emmy, Peabody and Dupont Awards as well. In 2008 the Raymonds produced for HBO Hard Times at Douglass High that profiled a historically black high school in West Baltimore struggling to meet the demands of No Child Left Behind. Together these two films document the brutal inequalities of America’s treatment of minority education.

The Raymonds were also honored with an Academy Award nomination in 1991 for Doing Time: Life Inside The Big House that profiled life inside the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary. Doing Time received a News & Documentary Emmy Award for Directing. In 2003 the Raymonds produced How Do You Spell Murder? for HBO that chronicled an inmate-run literacy program in New Jersey State Prison.

The film examined the connection between illiteracy and a life of crime. How Do You Spell Murder was shortlisted for an Academy Award and won a Literacy in Media Award for Outstanding Achievement in Documentary.

Alan and Susan Raymond received international acclaim for their 2000 Prime Time Emmy Award-winning HBO film Children in War. They also wrote a companion book for HarperCollins on their war reporting experiences in Bosnia, Rwanda, Israel, Palestine and Northern Ireland. The film also received a United Nations UNESCO Award for international reporting.

The Raymonds addressed the subject of religion in America for PBS in 2004 with The Congregation, a portrait of a progressive Methodist church in Philadelphia. The documentary depicted the congregation’s struggles to accept a new minister appointed to their church.

It also addressed the topic of gays in the ministry when the church’s associate pastor, Beth Stroud, declared her sexual orientation during a Sunday sermon. Her confrontation with the Methodist church’s stand against gay ministers attracted national attention when she was put on trial by the church and defrocked.

The Raymonds have produced two historical documentaries. Their highly regarded Elvis ‘56 depicted Presley’s rise to fame and fortune in the one year 1956. Elvis ‘56 was produced for HBO and has been seen on many other cable networks. For the BBC, the Raymonds produced Sweet Home Chicago, a portrait of the history of urban blues music as seen through the lens of the Chess Records label.

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Many of Alan and Susan Raymond’s films are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Paley Center for Media and Bibliothèque nationale de France, in Paris. They have been selected for the Television Academy Archives as Emmy TV Legends and received The International Documentary Association Pioneer Award in 2010 for their body of work. Their films have been broadcast on PBS, ABC News, HBO, and the BBC.


To schedule a speaking engagement with Alan and Susan Raymond, please email them via the CONTACT page.




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