Dawn Porter

Dawn Porter

Adjunct Professor

Office: 125A

Office Hours: Tuesdays /Thursdays by Appointment

As adjunct professor of documentary, Porter will teach production and will serve as lead adviser to the School’s documentary students and as interim director of the Documentary Program for the ‘18-19 academic year.

Porter, who is founder of Trilogy Films, directed and produced the documentary “Gideon’s Army,” which told the stories of public defenders in the South who work against staggering caseloads and low pay to help defend poor people accused of crime.  The film won the Sundance Film Festival Editing Award and the Tribeca All Access Creative Promise Award, as well as the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award for Media and the Arts and the prestigious Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize.  It aired on HBO in July 2013 and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, a Cinema Eye Award, and an Emmy.

Her 2016 film, “Trapped,” explored the impact of laws regulating abortion clinics in the South as they struggle in the face of an increasingly hostile legal and political climate. The film premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Award for Social Impact Filmmaking. Among its numerous prizes and recognitions were the Silver Gavel Award and a Peabody Award.

Porter’s other films include the Independent Lens film “Spies of Mississippi” (2014, PBS) on the little-known story of a state-sponsored campaign to defeat the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, and “Rise: The Promise of My Brother’s Keeper,” chronicling President Obama’s program to help young men and boys of color succeed. Porter interviewed Obama for the film, which aired nationally on The Discovery Channel and The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) in 2015.

Her short films have been distributed by Time Inc., Amazon, and The New York Times Op Docs. In 2015, Alex Gibney’s production company Jigsaw Productions selected her to direct a centerpiece film for the well-regarded series “The New Yorker Presents” for Amazon. In 2016, Porter was named to Variety’s 10 Documakers to Watch” and received the Robert and Anne Drew Award for Documentary Excellence at DOC NYC’s Visionaries Tribute.


  • Swarthmore College, BA Political Science
    JD Georgetown University


  • ABC News Director of News Standards and Practices
    A&E Networks Vice President of Standards and Practices


  • Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize Trapped
    Sundance Film Festival Best Editing Gideons Army
    Peabody Trapped
    Emmy Nomination, Gideons Army


  • Academy of Motion Pictures Documentary Branch
    Television Academy Documentary Branch
    Board Member CIR
    Mentor San Francisco Film Society


Sec. Title Time Location
24 J294 Master’s Project Seminar – Documentary – Porter
Spring 2019
By appt. By appointment
1 J284 Documentary Production
Spring 2019
Tu 2:00 - 6:00 101 North Gate
19 J294 Master’s Project Seminar – Documentary – Porter
Fall 2018
By appt. By appointment
1 J284 Documentary Production
Fall 2018
T 2-6 101 North Gate