ABOUT

Sawbuck Productions, Inc. is a not-for-profit charitable organization 501(c3) that creates and distributes multiple media geared toward documenting the people, places, and things that operate on the fringes and in the margins. 

Now approaching its 15th anniversary, Sawbuck has been involved in the production of several dozen short documentaries and a half-dozen feature-length pictures. Public radio documentaries helped us grow from a small, indie enterprise to an award-winning national production company. 

Most of Sawbuck's non-fiction films deal directly or indirectly with the lives of people who use drugs.

 

Most of Sawbuck's narrative film work is experimental, weird, and focused on the peripheries ... we make these movies out on the backroads of the rural American midwest.

All Sawbuck staff work full-time jobs elsewhere. We have no payroll, we generate no monetary profit. For us, the work is the pay; and the profits come in many different, more substantial and lasting forms.

Now let's meet the crew, all of whom labor tirelessly on all Sawbuck projects (and they produce and direct their own stuff, too). 

Greg Scott, President and CEO

 

​Since the fall of 2000, I’ve worked as a sociologist and artist at DePaul University in Chicago. I teach documentary film production, vernacular photography, visual sociology, drugs and consciousness, and multimedia art.

 

My creative partner, Zack Ostrowski (aka “Beverly Fresh”), and I are co-founders of  WILD AMERICAN DOGS, an interdisciplinary art duo focused on producing experimental feature films, cooking shows, tent revivals, and office party performances. WAD and Sawbuck work hand-in-hand on most productions.

 

Zack and I also founded and oversee the Archive of Midwestern Culture. Come check us out.

Jessica Mosley, Vice President

 

It was Sawbuck that gave rise to the notion that I would try to make film a career.  I have spent the years since Greg’s ethnographic film class working in various capacities in production. Spending time in commercial production companies and on the sets of major motion pictures. I’ve even had the honor of working alongside Greg & Erin on documentary television projects. Of all the work I’ve been a part of, I’ve always gotten the most out of working with team Sawbuck.  The sociological lens creates a real depth of subject matter and it makes for beautiful “stories worth being told” films.  I’ve come to realize that the power of film, even if it ever-so-slightly rattles someone’s belief system, is worthy life’s work.  I am so grateful that Greg opened this medium up for me and I will continue to carry on in the film world as a steadfast Sawbuckian.

Zack Ostrowski

(Member, Sawbuck Board of Directors)

 

BEVERLY FRESH is a contemporary artist and musician based in Detroit and Chicago. He has broken several Guinness Book World Records; including breaking the most eggs on his head and compiling the tallest stack of rap tapes.

Beverly has exhibited and performed throughout the United States and internationally, including China, Japan, Peru, Poland, Ukraine, Czech Republic, and Germany. Recent notable exhibitions and performances include, MR MDWST - A REAL GOOD TIME (2015), a solo exhibition at the Cranbrook Museum of Art and A Study in Midwestern Appropriation, curated by Michelle Grabner at the Hyde Park Art Center(2014). He is the co-founder of sUPERIORbelly, a multi-media art and design collective and record label based in Detroit, Michigan and cofounder of WILD AMERICAN DOGS (2013), an interdisciplinary art duo focused on producing experimental feature films and performance. 

He has a BFA in Graphic Design/Interactive Media from the College for Creative Studies and an MFA from the 2D Department at Cranbrook Academy of Art, where he was the 2009 recipient of the Daimler AG Emerging Artist Award. He is an Assistant Professor and Area Head of Graphic Art at DePaul University in Chicago, IL. 

Joe Shriner

(Member, Sawbuck Board of Directors)

 

A member since 2008, Joe is grateful for the opportunity to assist the Sawbuck cadre with its mission of giving a voice to the overlooked and denigrated in society. Possessing even enthusiasm for sociologists like Erving Goffman and documentary filmmakers like the Maysles Brothers, Joe believes in the potential that documentary has to positively impact individual and social conscience. After receiving a B.A. in sociology at DePaul University in 2009, Joe has traveled extensively throughout the country before finding his current home in New Orleans. When not working on video projects or playing music, Joe writes articles for the New Orleans online news publication NOLA Defender.

David Frank

(Member, Sawbuck Board of Directors)

 

Greg’s work at Sawbuck was part of what inspired me to go to graduate school, and I quickly became involved with the Sawbuck crew at DePaul University.  I've always been interested in using visual approaches to social research, but more than that I’m committed to Sawbuck’s ethos that rejects armchair quarterbacks and demands that sociologists and filmmakers get out there and hang with their subject.  I’m currently living in New York and working on my Ph.D. in sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center.  My interests are in critiquing the frames of knowledge we commonly use to understand drug use, addiction, and treatment issues. I also consider it part of my responsibilities to annoy Thom at least twice a year.

Sawbuck Staff

Matt Curtis

(Producer, Director, Editor)

 

My first step into film making came through interning on the Frontline documentary The Lost American in 1997, which inadvertently led to a career in harm reduction in Eastern Europe, Asia, and more recently the United States. I got involved with Sawbuck to produce Reach for Me: Fighting to End the American Drug Overdose Epidemic, and then did soundtrack work for other Sawbuck films and co-directed the film Everywhere But Safe: Public Injecting in New York with the great Taeko Frost. Most of the time, though, I'm Policy Director at VOCAL New York, a grassroots, community organizing-based political organization that works to end the war on drugs, the HIV and Hepatitis C epidemics, and mass incarceration. 

Taeko Frost

(Producer, Director, Editor)

 

I've had the privilege to hear and be part of so many life stories of people who use drugs over the years. My favorite documentary, Titicut Follies by Fred Wiseman, is the perfect example of how film and storytelling can expose injustice and call for action. One of those calls to action is to recognize and address public injection drug use by supporting the integration of supervised injection facilities in NYC. To start telling that story, I co-directed the film "Everywhere But Safe: Public Injecting in New York" with my talented colleague and friend Matt Curtis. I've worked in public health and HIV prevention for over a decade and am currently the Executive Director of Washington Heights CORNER Project, a syringe exchange program in uptown Manhattan. 

​​Thom Fredericks

(Producer, Director, Camera Operator, Editor)
Sawbuck Board Member 2008-2014

By profession I am a wide ranging digital media, web, IT guy who currently specializes in corporate communication (visual and written), UX design, content creation, project management and social media strategies. By education, and natural inclination, I am a social scientist, through and through. Due to my love for artistic creation I have maintained a constant role in multimedia production serving as an editor, musician, audio engineer, director, actor, and videographer. I believe that all persons should have a voice, most especially in relationship to personal experience. Life is made up of something bigger than success or failure, material wealth, "ah-ha" moments or inspirational chicken soup for the soul stories backed with the appropriate, emotionally stirring music bed. At Sawbuck, each project is always a challenging exercise in storytelling, veracity, and re-presenting a reality.

In the past, I have had the privilege of being a discussant for the ethnographic film session at the Annual Chicago Ethnography Conference, taught various workshops in ethnographic filmmaking and co-authored a chapter on Visual Methods in Qualitative Research with Greg Scott, Ph.D.. In the present and for the future, I will continue to seek truth, explore the world around me and maintain my ardent support of the amateur.

Madi Burdzy

(Videographer, Assistant Director, Editor)

 

Madi Burdzy is a student at DePaul University studying Digital Cinema and International Studies with a minor in Arabic Language. Madi’s interests lie in international relations theory, intersectional feminism, social theory, food politics and culture, and experimental, documentary style filmmaking. While taking Greg Scott’s Ethnographic Film Production course, Madi realized that she wanted to make documentary-style filmmaking a career. Madi is inspired by the passion, innovation, and creativity that is exuded from all of Sawbuck’s productions and hopes that in working with Sawbuck, she will gain some valuable industry insight that will ready her for a full career in filmmaking.

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Matt Curtis