It's all about the angle. No one knows that better than Holly Carter. Whether it's a story or life, having the right perspective is key. And the right shot. And camera.
Above all, there's the right location, which she learned firsthand from her grandfather, novelist Charles Muller. Don't be confined by where you live, he'd say; be liberated by it. He was a skier and a sailor kind of guy, so he wintered in Colorado and summered in Connecticut. Holly took note and left her roots in Greenwich, Connecticut, for Colorado College. There, she explored her love of writing (she published her first book in fourth grade, thanks to a nurturing teacher) and discovered a passion for nature. By graduation, she was juggling offers from Outward Bound to be a guide in Australia and the New York Times to be a mailroom clerk. Australia would always be there, she figured, but the Times? That was a time-sensitive gig.
Long story short — and thanks to what she calls being the right place at the right time (though we give her more credit) — she was part of the group of reporters and graphic designers nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for the New York Times coverage of the 1987 stock-market crash. Not too shabby, eh? But despite such success, the location — ah, the location — left Holly feeling confined. How could she report about the world while stuck in a big skyscraper in Manhattan? So she applied and eventually won the Henry Luce Fellowship and moved to Korea, where a 10-month program would turn into a three-year photo-journalism stint stomping around Asia. As an encore, she'd follow up with a PBS documentary about Margaret Sanger, produce film festivals and literacy days, marry, become a mother of two daughters, and accept what seemed to be a random opportunity to spearhead business tycoon George Soros's After-School Corporation, offering free after-school programs to 40,000 inner New York City kids.
What was the angle in all these adventures? Turns out, good old-fashioned storytelling. Five years ago, Holly founded BYkids.org, a nonprofit that allows famous, veteran filmmakers to mentor kids around the world with a story to tell. Together, they make a movie. Chris Zalla (2007 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner) and Neal Baer (executive producer of Law & Order: SVU) trekked to Maputo, Mozambique, to help 16-year-old Alcides Soares, a child who had lost both parents to AIDS, make a film about his life. Dirk Simon (Between the Lines) mentored 16-year-old Namgyal Wangchuk Trichen Lhagyari, the King of Tibet, living in exile in Dharamsala in Northern India. And TV producer Susan Hoenig worked with María Ceballos Paz, a 16-year-old Colombian girl who has been living in displacement with her family for the past nine years. All of the films are distributed to more than two million viewers through school programs, video on demand, web downloads, and film festivals. Global issues told through the eyes of a child: that's no angle. That's a headline.