Meet the Story Movements Speakers: Q&A with Byron Hurt, Filmmaker and Activist

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be introducing you to some of the world-changing storytellers that will be speaking at Story Movements, our new catalytic two-day convening September 15-16 that examines platforms and genres of civic media storytelling through the lens of social justice. From documentary film to investigative journalism to virtual reality to participatory storytelling to persuasive gaming to photography, the convening examines and captures the current and future-looking moment in story-led demands for social change.

Byron HurtToday, meet Byron Hurt, filmmaker and founder of God Bless the Child Productions.

CMSI: Tell us about God Bless the Child Productions. 

Byron Hurt: God Bless the Child Productions, Inc. is a documentary production company that creates socially relevant, cutting-edge documentary films about race, class, and gender for diverse national and international audiences.

CMSI: What was your path into documentary filmmaking?

Byron Hurt: My path into documentary filmmaking was a very interesting one.  I was a journalism student at Northeastern University in Boston.  My broadcast journalism professor, Andrew P. Jones, was an independent documentary filmmaker for BET, WGBH, and Connecticut Public Television. During my senior year in college, I watched two films by Marlon Riggs: Color Adjustment, and Tongues Untied.  I also watched Orlando Bagwell’s Roots of Resistance in a history class, and lived right around the corner from Henry Hampton’s Backside Productions, the creator of Eyes on the Prize. I wanted to be like all of the above-mentioned black men who were telling really important stories about Black people and Black culture.  I made my first student film as a college senior, and I have been hooked ever since.

CMSI: How do you decide what stories you want to tell?

Byron Hurt: I decide what stories to tell based on my connection to the issue or story, and whether or not it’s a story that I feel really passionate about.  I also try to address issues in my films that I believe are cutting edge and help advance the culture we live in. But the number one thing for me is that I have to feel personally connected to the story.

CMSI: How do you combine filmmaking with activism and humanitarian work?

Byron Hurt: All of my films have had an outreach campaign component to help maximize reach and impact in underserved communities.  I like to engage with audiences beyond the film’s festival run or TV broadcast to extend the viewership and impact of the film. I love being in conversation with audience members and engaging in healthy, productive dialogue. I really appreciate how viewers are transformed by what they see on the screen or hear how the film’s story applies to their daily lives.  It’s truly amazing when someone sends me an email, tweet, or a Facebook message saying that my film changed their outlook on the issue I’ve addressed, or when someone I’ve never met before approaches me and says, “Your film changed my life!”


To learn more about God Bless the Child Productions, click here.

To see the complete Story Movements line-up, click here.

To register for Story Movements, click here.


Meet the Story Movements Speakers: Q&A with Portia Cobb, Director of the Community Media Project