Dawn Porter exclusive

Dawn Porter

Criminal Justice System Reformer, Attorney, and Gideon's Army Filmmaker

Why Dawn Porter?

You want a lawyer turned filmmaker who is passionate about sharing the stories of committed public defenders who contend with long hours, low pay, and staggering caseloads.

Your audience will learn the challenges facing young public defenders on the frontlines of the American criminal system.

Gideon's Army premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival where it earned the Editing Award.

Fee Range: (BELOW $10,000)

About Dawn Porter

Twelve million people are arrested in the United States each year and millions of those cases will proceed through the criminal justice system. It is not uncommon for lawyers to handle hundreds of cases at a time. What does this mean for a system of justice?

Lawyer turned filmmaker Dawn Porter wanted answers to this very question. As the founder of Trilogy Films, she became the director and producer of Gideon's Army, which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and debuts on HBO Documentary Films in July 2013. Gideon's Army follows three young public defenders in the Deep South during their daily mission to counsel hundreds of defendants through the strained criminal justice system.

As an alumnus of the Tribeca All Access program, Porter won the 2011 juried Creative Promise Award for Gideon's Army. Realscreen named Porter one of their 2012 Doc Hot Shots 15 emerging directors to watch. Other Trilogy projects include Spies of Mississippi for ARTE Germany and PBS, and a documentary about celebrity Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli for the Cooking Channel.

Before becoming a filmmaker she was the Director of News Standards and Practices at ABC News, and Vice President of Standards and Practices at A&E Networks. Dawn is a graduate of Swarthmore College and the Georgetown University Law Center. She was a practicing attorney at Baker & Hostetler and ABC Television Networks before beginning her television career.


  • Public Defenders: The Keepers of Civil Rights
    The documentary Gideon's Army follows a group of young public defenders in the Deep South who contend with low pay, long hours, and staggering caseloads to represent the poor. Lawyer turned filmmaker Dawn Porter dives deep into the discussion of the deficiencies of the US criminal justice system and what it takes to maintain the passion and commitment to be a public defender.

  • Spies of Mississippi
    Based on her 2012 film Spies of Mississippi, Dawn Porter tells audiences the story of a secret spy agency formed by the state of Mississippi to preserve segregation and maintain white supremacy. The anti-civil rights organization was hidden in plain sight in an unassuming office in the Mississippi State Capitol. Funded with taxpayer dollars and granted extraordinary latitude to carry out its mission, the Commission evolved from a propaganda machine into a full blown spy operation. This wealth of first person primary historical material guides us through one of the most fascinating and yet little known stories of America's quest for civil rights.

  • Defending America in the Age of Mass Incarceration
    America imprisons more people than any other industrialized nation in the world. The overwhelming majority of those who are arrested qualify for free legal representation from one of the nation's 15000 public defenders. But these legal officers are struggling to keep up as more and more people are arrested each year. Dawn Porter spent almost four years making a film about three remarkable public defenders on the front lines of a culture of mass incarceration. She shares her insights into the criminal justice system from this unique vantage point, that of the accused and those who represent them.


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