117: Jed Rothstein | Vision, Sacrifice, and Storytelling

On today’s episode of The Edge of Excellence, Matt is joined by Jed Rothstein, an Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker renowned for his skill in transforming real-life stories into compelling narratives that captivate and enlighten audiences worldwide.

From his earliest days, Jed’s passion for storytelling through film was evident, drawing inspiration from global hotspots, innovative investigative journeys, and novel explorations of the documentary form. His work reflects a deep commitment to not just telling stories, but telling them in ways that resonate deeply with viewers, highlighting his belief in the power of cinema to foster understanding and empathy among people.

Jed’s conversation with Matt reveals the depth of his experience and his approach to filmmaking, which is rooted in a profound respect for the stories of individuals often overlooked by society. He shares insights into the challenges and triumphs of his career, including his journey from an anthropology student to a documentary filmmaker, his experiences filming in the midst of the Arab Spring, and the personal sacrifices he’s made to tell stories that matter. Jed’s definition of excellence — as doing everything to the best of one’s ability and leaving no stone unturned — shines through as he discusses his projects, including his work with characters from diverse backgrounds and the impact these stories have had on his life and career.

This episode is not just a look behind the scenes of Jed’s distinguished career but also a masterclass in the art of documentary filmmaking. You’ll come away with a deeper understanding of what it takes to pursue a career in this challenging yet rewarding field, as well as the importance of persistence, vision, and, most importantly, a heart for storytelling. Whether you’re an aspiring filmmaker, a documentary enthusiast, or someone curious about the power of real-life narratives, Jed’s story is a testament to the impact that thoughtful, well-crafted documentaries can have on our world.

Join Matt and Jed for this fascinating conversation.


What You Will Learn In This Show:

  • How Jed specializes in turning complex real-life events into compelling cinematic narratives that both entertain and enlighten.
  • Jed’s transition from studying anthropology to becoming a documentary filmmaker, and how his academic background enriches his approach to storytelling.
  • Jed’s definition of excellence: putting your best effort into everything you do, striving for perfection in every project, and the importance of perseverance and follow-through.
  • The unpredictable nature of documentary filmmaking, including adapting to unforeseen events like the Arab Spring, and the personal and professional growth that comes from navigating such challenges.
  • The role of mentorship in Jed’s career, how to seek out and engage with mentors, and the importance of being assertive in pursuing your vision and opportunities.
  • The importance of finding a balance between pursuing creative passions and the practical aspects of filmmaking, including funding and production logistics.
  • The ethical considerations and personal sacrifices involved in telling real and often sensitive stories, highlighting the responsibility filmmakers have to their subjects.
  • And so much more…

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