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 to NYWIFT, Toby Perl Freilich! Toby is an Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker and writer, focusing on cultural reporting. Her work explores all sorts of perspectives, from senators to artists, spanning across the world. She co-produced and co-directed Moynihan, a film about the late New York senator, policy expert, and public intellectual. She also directed, produced, and wrote Inventing Our Life: The Kibbutz Experiment, about one of the world's longest running and most successful experiments in radical, secular communal living. Right now, she is producing and directing I Make Maintenance Art: The Work of Mierle Laderman Ukeles about the pioneering ecofeminist and the first Artist in Residence at the New York City Department of Sanitation. Read about Toby’s inspiring past and future projects here!READ MORE
Finding your tribe is one of life’s greatest pleasures—and losing it is one of the greatest sorrows. In NYWIFT Member Amy Nicholson’s beautifully observed film Happy Campers, working-class Americans gather every summer at a seaside trailer park in Chincoteague, Virginia, to enjoy the simple pleasures of a scrappy, no-frills vacationland, and each other’s company. When a developer buys the land and reimagines the property, the inhabitants of this shabby Shangri-La wistfully eke out the joys of one last summer together as a melancholic twilight hangs in the air. Happy Campers just made its world premiere at DOC NYC, where it received a Special Mention for the Grand Jury Prize. Amy spoke to us about her unique process making this film, biggest challenges and triumphs, and the commodification of some of life’s simplest pleasures.READ MORE
Welcome to NYWIFT, Melisa Ramos! Melisa is a filmmaker and professor from Puerto Rico, bringing 14 years of post-production and motion graphics experience to New York. Her first production, Puerto Rican Voices, a docu-series about the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Following Puerto Rican Voices, Melisa continued to share Puerto Rican and Latin American stories. In 2020, she directed and produced From Performers to Spectators, a doc-series showcasing New York City performers during lockdown. She is currently in production on Hoop Warrior, her first feature film. Read all about Melisa’s journey as an editor and artist here!READ MORE
Welcome to NYWIFT, Lorena R. Valenica! Lorena R. Valencia is a Mexican writer-director based in New York. Her directorial debut and MFA thesis film, Cuanacaquilitl (Dandelion), received the 2022 National Board of Review Student Award and is an Official Selection in several international film festivals, including the Morelia International Film Festival, the Atlanta Film Festival, the New York Latino Film Festival, and the NewFilmmakers Los Angeles Film Festival. Lorena is passionate about both narrative and documentary storytelling and is interested in addressing issues such as reproductive rights, identity, and belonging. Currently, she is directing Mi Ranchito, a documentary short film that explores resilience and love for the land, while she is developing her debut feature film, Mayahuel. Lorena spoke to us about inspiring empathy through storytelling, the overlap of narrative and documentary filmmaking, and her latest projects.READ MORE