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Who We Are

Maggie Burnette Stogner



Maggie Stogner is a documentary filmmaker who has created a wide range of documentary films over her 25 years as a filmmaker. From 1995 to 2004, Maggie was the producer, director, writer, and then Senior Producer of National Geographic’s weekly, award-winning documentary showcase, EXPLORER. She produced many first-person documentaries for the “Explorer Journal” strand and supervised over 200 hours of documentary specials that focused on culture, exploration, adventure, and nature around the globe.

For the past ten years, Maggie has designed, produced, and directed films and immersive media for world-touring museum exhibitions for the Smithsonian, National Geographic, LucasFilms, and others. These exhibitions include the King Tut exhibits, “Roads of Arabia”, “Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures” narrated by Kite Runner author Khaled Hosseini, “Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archeology” with Harrison Ford, “Real Pirates” narrated by Lou Gossett Jr., and others. Typically, these exhibits travel across the U.S., Europe, and Asia, at top venues such as Washington D.C.’s National Gallery of Art, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, London’s British Museum, and so on. Most recently, Maggie has created the media elements for the epic “Ancient Greece: Agamemnon to Alexander the Great”, which opened at Ottawa’s Museum of History in June 2015.

Maggie is currently producing, directing, and writing a broadcast documentary about Chinese in the Old West, a history that has been egregiously overlooked and is finally coming to light through the eyes of descendants.  Her contribution has included innovative large screen films, animations, short documentaries, and an original music score specifically designed for the space.

Maggie is also the sole owner of Blue Bear Films ( and a tenured professor of film and media arts at American University in Washington D.C. She is an executive member of WIFV in Washington D.C., a voting member of the Academy of TV Arts and Sciences, a judge for the National News and Doc Emmy Awards, and a distinguished judge for CINE Golden Eagles Awards.

Rick Stack


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Rick Stack's professional life is dedicated to social justice. Working in the Jackson County (MO) Public Defenders Office, Rick has learned, first-hand, just how many mistakes, large and small, are made daily in a courthouse.  This experience led to his questioning of the reliability of severe sanctions based on a system susceptible to human error.

In the late 1970's, Rick's research on global resource issues brought him to Washington, DC where he has held a series of jobs devoted to fighting global and local hunger and poverty.

In the 1980's, Rick became the Founding Executive Director of the Capital Area Food Bank and the first Board Chair of the DC Central Kitchen. In 1984, he developed and taught the course, “Politics of Hunger” as an adjunct instructor at American University. He was later awarded tenure and promoted to the rank of Associate Professor in the 1990's. His academic research continues to focus on the intersection of the courts and the media. 

Rick has written numerous journal articles and made many conference presentations on the social justice.  His first two books, "Litigation Public Relations: Courting Public Opinion" [1995] and "Courts, Counselors & Correspondents: A Media Relations Analysis of the Legal System" [1998], pioneered the field of litigation communication. His more recent books draw from his experiences in the Public Defenders Office and years of service as a pro-bono communication strategist for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.  This work applies theories of litigation public relations to influence popular opinion about capital punishment.

His third book, "Dead Wrong: Violence, Vengeance, and the Victims of Capital Punishment" [2006], helped reframe national debate from: “Is the death penalty a deterrent to crime?” To, “Can we trust our government to make such irreversible life-and-death decisions, when it makes so many mistakes?”  "Grave Injustice: Unearthing Wrongful Executions" [2013] takes the innocence argument further. It tells the stories of men who were executed even as serious doubt persists in their cases.




Penny has been working in the industry since the early 90’s and her work has received numerous national and international awards, including: the Peabody award, National Emmy Awards, Blue Ribbon/American Film Festival, Cindy Gold Awards, Columbus Gold Awards, Houston Gold Awards, and BACA Outstanding Documentary Award. Her work includes projects for PBS, NBC, ABC, National Geographic, Discovery and several independent documentary productions. Recent productions include With All Deliberate Speed, a theatrical documentary produced by Discovery Communications; First Ladies: Private Lives Public Expectations, an election special for PBS; and Vietnam: Pictures from the Other Side, for National Geographic.

Reuben Aaronson

Consulting Director of Photography

Reuben Aaronson is a documentary filmmaker whose distinctive work reflects a wide variety of experiences over his 35 year career. He has traveled the world to shoot and direct award-winning films about the human experience for National Geographic, Discovery, HBO, PBS, and many others. His films include Emmy-award winning “Inside the Vatican,” “The Thin Red Line,” and “Hotel Terminus” which won an Academy Award for Best Documentary. 



Maggie Burnette Stogner has stepped into the role of cinematographer and photographer for many of her projects, from National Geographic's "Mystery Tomb of Abusir" to Smithsonian's "Roads of Arabia". She has filmed much of the footage for In the Executioner's Shadow to date with a Canon 5D Mark III.



Doug Gritzmacher is an Emmy, Telly, and Remi award-winning director of photography based in Denver, Colorado. He shoots short- and long-form documentaries, dramatic shorts and features, broadcast television shows, ads, and videos for corporate and non-profit organizations. His work has led to numerous awards for film festivals and network clients including NBC, The National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, PBS, BBC, Al Jazeera America, HGTV, ESPN, and others. Doug is an accomplished producer and editor of two documentary features — “Soldiers of Paint,” (available on Netflix and iTunes) and “G.I. Jobs,” which was produced for and broadcast on DirecTV. More about his filmmaking as well as his fine art photos and full bio can be found at

erin harvey


Erin Harvey has been a documentary cinematographer for National Geographic Television, The Discovery Channel, PBS, and others for over twenty years.  Some of his films include Gorilla Murders, which received an Emmy nomination for cinematography and The President’s Photographer, which received a private screening in the White House theater with the president and first lady.  He was also a principal director of photography for BELIEF, a landmark seven-hour series shot around the globe.  Erin’s work has also made it to the big screen as director of photography for Autumn, a narrative feature that was an official selection for the Toronto Film Festival, and Spinning Plates, a feature-length documentary which won multiple Best Documentary and Audience awards on the film festival circuit before its theatrical release.


Ana M. Cetina

Sound Design


Ana M. Cetina is a Colombian and Mexican sound designer and sound mixer, and has been involved in the audio industry for over 15 years. She has worked in film sets, theaters, concert venues, recording studios and post houses as the audio engineer, sound designer and mixer. Her passion lies in documentary filmmaking and her recent work includes the sound design and mix of In the Executioner’s ShadowColors of Resistance, The Salinas Project, the Academy Award nominated film Sustaining Life, and Link TV’s ViewChange Film Contest category winner, Rising to the Top. Additionally, Ana is the Director of the Audio Technology Program at American University, where she also teaches courses in sound for visual media.

Original Music

Paul Oehlers


Paul A. Oehlers is most recognized for his “extraordinarily evocative” film scores. (Variety) Films incorporating his music have won the Grand Jury prize at the Hamptons International Film Festival, the Atlanta International Film Festival, and the Indiefest Film Festival, and have screened at dozens of festivals around the world and been broadcast on PBS, NBC, Al Jazeera, LinkTV, BBC, ESPN, and others. Paul’s compositions have been performed at the Society for Electro-acoustic Music national conferences, as well as international festivals in Korea, Brazil and Germany. Paul was the 2006 Margaret Lee Crofts Fellow at the MacDowell Colony for the Arts. He is an Associate Professor of Audio Technology at American University in Washington, DC.

Lenny Williams, HLW Music


Lenny Williams is a premiere composer for documentary films, winning six national Emmy Awards and nominated for 11 more, for Outstanding Achievement in a Craft: Music and Sound. Since 1995 he has worked extensively with National Geographic, Discovery, WNET, CNN, TLC, PBS, A&E, Animal Planet and The History Channel. He has won five BMI awards, contributed music to two Grammy award-winning recordings, won a Teton award at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, and a Panda Award from Wildscreen. He is a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory of Music, has performed  with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra, and nationally touring musicals, as well as the  D.C.-based political satire group ‘The Capitol Steps’. From 1988 to 1996 he was the pianist for the late Eva Cassidy, whose posthumous recordings have sold over 12 million copies worldwide. 

Chris Biondo, Biondo Music


Chris Biondo has composed over 500 original scores for documentary films, winning five Emmy Awards. He is a bassist, guitarist, keyboardist, recording engineer, and producer. He’s worked with many local Washington, DC artists, including the legendary “Godfather of Go-Go” Chuck Brown, and has recorded over 200 albums with styles as diverse as folk, rap, country, jazz, classical and rock, for labels including Motown, Columbia, Island, Def Jam, Sony and Virgin. His music library, developed in collaboration with his partners in Load Bearing Music, includes more than 3,000 unique, original cues in a wide range of genres. Major clients include National Geographic Television and Film, the Discovery Channel, TLC, PBS, Animal Planet, Smithsonian Network, Fox Network, CNN, The History Channel, MSNBC and the BBC.  In 1986 Chris began recording the then-unknown singer Eva Cassidy. For the next ten years he worked with Eva to develop her as a recording artist, producing most of her recordings available today. 

Trailerblazer Studios

Post-Production Consultant

Trailblazer Studios ( is a premiere production, post, and sound facility located in Raleigh, NC. In the last eight years, Trailblazer Studios has delivered over 800 shows to network television including Discovery, PBS, National Geographic, HBO, and independent films to the festival circuit.

Ted Roach

Work Sample Editor

Ted Roach is a film director, producer, and editor whose productions, including the acclaimed documentary, "120 Days”, have been broadcasted internationally, screened in over 50 film festivals, and won numerous awards. He has created dozens of documentary shorts as a freelance video journalist for many DC-based organizations such as the National Park Service, NOAA, and the Investigative Reporting Workshop ( Ted holds an MFA in Film from American University, a BA in History from UNC-Chapel Hill, and a directing certification from the Los Angeles Film School.

Bonnie Cutler

Work Sample Editor 

Bonnie Cutler has been in the storytelling-telling business for over 25 years. She has edited more than 300 short- and long-form documentaries and reality programs in genres ranging from children’s films to investigative documentaries. An Emmy winner and three-time nominee, her work has appeared on all the major networks, including CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, PBS, Discovery and The National Geographic Channel.

don fish

Trailer Editor

Don Fish has been editing and producing programs for television viewers across the United States and around the world for over 25 years. With a client list that includes National Geographic Channel, PBS, NBC, Discovery Communications and its affiliated networks, Smithsonian Channel, AARP Productions and many others, Don has built his career around producing and editing non-fiction television programs.

American University

Research and Production

American University is a key contributor to the development of In the Executioner’s Shadow. AU’s School of Communication embraces media that matters and, in keeping with this motto, AU has provided significant incubator grants as well as graduate student researchers.


Research & Production

Viviana Bravo          Paul Chronister

Matt Cipollone           Gabe Coffey

Sidney Dawson III           Aditi Desai

Richard Fields           Erin Finicane

Keila Gunter           Vanina Hare

Michael Henry           Megan King

Emma Kougeull           Bria Spivey

Helenah Swedberg           Samantha Tinsley

Heather Villacres


Ryan Blocher           Mary Alice McMillan

Jessica Moreno           Shannon Shikles

AU/SOC Film & Media Arts editing classes

Website, Social Media, Marketing

Taylor Battle           Melina Franco

Keila Gunter           Vanina Harel

Anna McGuffee           Morgan Guilbeau

Andrea Ploch           Claudette Richards

Bria Spivey

IP Clinic Laila & Justin.jpg



Laila Sabagh, Justin Wickersham and Victoria Phillips from the AU/Washington College of Law Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Law Clinic.