Dawn Porter


By: Stephanie Brown and Echo Xie

Dawn Porter is a director/producer and the founder of Trilogy Films. Her film “Gideon’s Army” follows the personal life of three young public defenders in the deep south, who devote their lives fighting with a broken criminal justice system. “Gideon’s Army” premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and aired on HBO Documentary Films. Other Trilogy projects include “Spies of Mississippi” for ARTE Germany and PBS, and a documentary about celebrity Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli for the Cooking Channel.

Graduated from Georgetown University Law Center, Porter was a practicing attorney at Baker & Hostetler and ABC Television Networks before starting her television and film career.

Porter recently visited the Center to share with us her experience in making “Gideon’s Army”, her relationship with the characters and the film’s social impact. Watch her interview unfold below (transcript available here)  and check out the film’s website for more information

Gideon's Army

Gideon’s Army follows the personal stories of Travis Williams, Brandy Alexander and June Hardwick, three young public defenders who are part of a small group of idealistic lawyers in the Deep South challenging the assumptions that drive a criminal justice system strained to the breaking point. Backed by mentor Jonathan “Rap” Rapping, a charismatic leader who heads the Southern Public Defender Training Center (now known as Gideon’s Promise), they struggle against long hours, low pay and staggering caseloads so common that even the most committed often give up in their first year. Nearly 50 years since the landmark Supreme Court ruling Gideon v. Wainwright that established the right to counsel, can these courageous lawyers revolutionize the way America thinks about indigent defense and make “justice for all” a reality?

From Lawyer to Filmmaker

Dawn Porter talks about the origins of “Gideon’s Army”, how she went from lawyer to filmmaker and how the idea of making a film about public defenders comes to life.

"I'm glad they're in my life."

Dawn Porter talks about how she found the main characters for “Gideon’s Army” and how she walked into the life as a public defender.

"There's Never Been a Better Time"

Part 3: Dawn Porter talks about the social impact of “Gideon’s Army”, and explains why “there’s never been a better time” for change.