Brad Barber | Department of TMA
50 States / 50 Stories: Finding Empathy through Filmmaking


Named one of Variety’s “10 Documakers to Watch” in 2015, Brad Barber is an Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker. His feature film debut Peace Officer, which he directed, produced, and shot together with Scott Christopherson, won the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2015 South by Southwest Film Festival, the Human Rights Award at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, and the David Carr Award at the Montclair Film Festival, among other festival honors. Peace Officer went on to play in theaters nationwide before airing on the PBS series Independent Lens. In 2009, Brad was nominated for an Emmy as an editor on the HBO documentary Resolved, for which he also served as an associate producer and cinematographer. He has won multiple regional Emmys for his public television short documentary series Beehive Stories, which he made with students in the TMA Department, and is a recipient of the AFI Docs/NBC Universal Impact Grant for social outreach. Brad has also served as a Jury Member for the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and on selection committees for the International Documentary Association Awards and the Slamdance Film Festival. 

Brad got his start professionally as a cinematographer on a documentary filmed across five continents. He then attended USC where he received an MFA in Cinema-Television Production and continued to work in Los Angeles for a number of documentary television and film projects for Showtime, ESPN, Discovery Channel, and others. His current project States of America is a series of short documentaries featuring one person in every U.S. state. Brad has taught documentary production in the BYU Theatre & Media Arts Department since 2007. He is married to artist Susan Krueger-Barber and together they have two amazing sons.

Faith + Works Lecture Series | Brad Barber

BYU film professor Brad Barber discusses learning about who you are through learning about others.

BYU film professor Brad Barber discusses learning about who you are through learning about others.

BYU film professor Brad Barber shares why he views making documentaries as a sacred act.

BYU film professor Brad Barber discusses how he came to pursue documentary filmmaking.

50 States / 50 Stories: Finding Empathy through Filmmaking

February 1, 2018 Lecture

Theatre and Media Arts professor Brad Barber drew on his filmmaking experience to talk about empathy in February’s Faith and Works Lecture. Barber demonstrated how his journey led him to explore truth, belonging and diversity by explaining his background and work on documentary series, primarily his new project “States of America,”.

“The journey of faith that I’m going to try to describe is rooted in my documentary portraiture, documentaries about people,” Barber said. “The late film critic Robert Ebert famously said, ‘Movies are like a machine that generates empathy.’

“I think that’s also true for trying to make films. In other words, trying to operate this empathy machine invites us to increase our empathy as we’re trying to speak for the people whose stories we’re telling.”

Barber’s first cinematic influence came from his childhood when he watched home movies on 8mm film. The fleeting feeling of the home movies helped Barber cherish moving images about real people. Barber developed powerful feelings for uplifting media while in college. This sparked his desire to create media that could communicate with everybody and help them feel the Spirit.

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To see other lectures from this series, visit the Faith + Works Lecture Series home page.