When Nicole Newnham went for lunch with her long-time colleague, sound mixer/designer, Jim LeBrecht, she didn’t expect it to spark a five-year long journey. The path on which Nicole and Jim embarked that day would result in Crip Camp, the 2020 Netflix documentary that takes viewers back to Jim’s experiences at Camp Jened – his 1970’s summer camp for disabled children in the Catskills that sparked a revolution in the disability rights movement. Crip Camp was co-directed by Nicole and Jim, and executive produced by Higher Group Productions, the production company led by Barack and Michelle Obama.
Nicole’s fascination with documentary-making stems from her own encounter with a film crew when she was a teenager on a peer counseling retreat. She witnessed firsthand how the shooting, editing and directing process worked. This led to a dynamic and globe-traversing career in documentary filmmaking with subjects including Cambodian refugees in Sentenced Home, a campaign to reclaim art stolen by Nazis in The Rape of Europa and the transformation of children living in slums in India in The Revolutionary Optimists.
For Nicole, this is a very exciting moment in the documentary industry with many filmmakers crossing over from nonfiction to fiction. Although Nicole is new to scripted film development, it is something she is keen to experience via this journey as a BAFTA Breakthrough. Nicole thinks of BAFTA as a hallmark of risk taking and incredibly high-quality filmmaking.