Our Friday column asks our members about their favorite tool, software, article of clothing, shoes on set, favorite scriptwriting software, etc.
Sarah Barker – Producer, Author and Astrophysicist
By Katie Chambers
NYWIFT Member Sarah Barker is an accomplished and passionate producer with a decade of experience turning ambitious ideas into award-winning television and live events. Oh, and she also happens to be an astrophysicist!
Yes, that’s right: she is an astrophysicist, science communicator, and science-advocate, committed to enthusing people about learning. Sarah does this by creating engaging factual television, and enthralling live events.
She is currently Supervising Producer for an Earth Day special for National Geographic. Other TV credits include Yellowstone Live, Earth Live, and Live from Space (all National Geographic), and American Spring Live (PBS Nature).
Her first book, 50 Things to See in the Sky was published in 2019 by Princeton Architectural Press.
Sarah shared with us what she keeps in her toolkit, here on Earth…
What is the one thing you can’t live without during production?
My fanny pack! I have everything in there. Pens, phone charging brick, batteries, media, sunscreen, Advil, snacks… that thing stays on me at all times! [Editor’s Note: note the fanny pack in use in the featured photo above of Sarah and the helicopter!]
What do you eat on set?
I try to eat healthy, nutritious meals but to be honest I’m mainly powered by coffee and sugar – both of which I avoid when not on shoot so they can be my ’secret weapon’ when I am on shoot!
What do you do to help de-stress?
I’ve been practicing yoga for half my life and running for even longer. I try to do both at least a couple of times a week, and make even more of an effort to do so while on the road. I’ve also got a good stack of breathing exercises. I find these are particularly useful for live TV… which can be even more stressful…
You’re not only a director/producer/writer but also an astrophysicist (!!!). What does an astrophysicist keep in her toolkit? We can’t even imagine!
Ha! Binoculars! For example, when I worked on Yellowstone Live for National Geographic, I used my binoculars for looking at wildlife during the day, and Jupiter’s moons at night.
What words do you live by?
“It’s only telly.” This was the mantra of my boss at my first job in television, a marvelous and talented woman named Nicky Huggett. It helps to keep all the production madness in perspective.
Learn more about Sarah Barker on her website: www.sarahbarkertv.com
And follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @sbarkstar
Welcome, new NYWIFT member Ching Juhl! Ching is a Chinese American filmmaker, video journalist, and music educator who has directed, filmed, edited, and produced three feature films, promotional videos, and hundreds of shorts. Her feature documentary My Yang Gang Diary, which she shot entirely on an iPhone 11, won Best Feature Film Award at Toronto Documentary Film Festival in 2021. Ching spoke to us about the benefits of shooting on iPhone, the intersection of music and filmmaking, and the friends who brought her to NYWIFT.READ MORE
When NYWIFT Board Member Kathryn O’Kane headed off to direct season two of The World According to Jeff Goldblum for Disney+ it was, in her words, “the worst of times” – the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, before vaccines were available and film production felt particularly dangerous and fraught. But the difficult work paid off, and has led to the best of times! Season two of the docuseries, which follows the beloved quirky actor as he pulls on the thread of a familiar topic to unravel a world of fascinating secrets, has been nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Hosted Nonfiction Series or Special.
We checked in with Kathryn to offer our congratulations, learn more about the filming process, and discuss what’s next for her.
Let’s welcome Sheherzad Raza Preisler to NYWIFT! She is a native New Yorker who attended undergrad at Columbia University, where she majored in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African studies and followed the pre-medical track. After an identity crisis, Sheherzad fell in love with all things filmmaking and is now an MFA candidate at Brooklyn College’s Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema. Much of Sheherzad’s work deals with growing up Muslim in post-9/11 America. She spoke to us about her unusual path from pre-med to science writing to filmmaking, how storytelling is innate to her culture, and her post-graduation plans.READ MORE
Welcome to NYWIFT, Samantha Alvarez, an independent documentary and narrative filmmaker born and raised in the Bronx with six years of camera operating and video editing experience. Alvarez started her career as a multidisciplinary teaching artist. She now works as a video freelancer and recently won the 2022 NYWIFT Outstanding Woman Content Creator at the Nova Frontier Film Festival for her short mixed media documentary, "In the Body." We sat down with her to discuss her latest film, her career, and her inspirations.READ MORE