Future Learning

Filmmaker Q&A with Director Eli Kaufman

Is there a particular video, film, campaign or filmmaker that had a major influence on your career?

The Hole in the Wall Project by Sugat Mitra.


What motivated you to make this film?

I was tired of all the doom and gloom reporting on education and wanted to meet the next generation of education innovators committed to the future of learning.


Please tell us what camera(s) you shot with primarily – and any other special equipment that you used and why you used it.

Canon 5D. Affordable. Small. Easy to operate.


Please tell us about any special styles or techniques that you used during the production of your film to help tell your story. 

I learned how to listen and trust that I’d get what I needed if I allowed my subjects to talk about what inspired them most about learning.


How did your story evolve from day one, to the very last day in post? Is your story what you thought it would be?

Yes and no. I had a clear vision that I was after pragmatic idealists who were excited to push the limits of convention in their discipline. But we totally found the structure of the film in post – huge props to my editor Jeff Conrad who did a masterful job of pulling it all together!


Please describe the most rewarding experience you had while making this film. 

Sharing ideas with smart people who care deeply about how we learn to think and contribute to the larger discourse around education.


What advice can you give to other impact filmmakers?

Find a topic or theme that you can’t put down. You’ll need that intrinsic curiosity to get you to the finish line.


What’s your favorite part about the filmmaking process and why?

I love how collaborative filmmaking is. From the initial spark of an idea through to the sound mix, it’s the creative partnerships and friendships that I like the most.


What’s the one item you always take with you when working out in the field and why? 

A good pair of comfortable shoes.


Please share a personal story about your experience making this film.

I had the chance to film my son and father in the opening sequence which was fun.


Can you describe any obstacles you encountered in making your film and/or in your distribution/exhibition efforts?

Just the usual lack of funds and time.


What do you want audiences to take away from your film?

That the process of learning is just as important as the knowledge you gain.


Please list key points that should be covered in a post-screening discussion:

We need to be active participants in our own learning and in the learning of others. The only constant is change, then what we learn and the way we learn will always be changing too.


Please provide information on any recent developments regarding the issue or subjects of the film. How have things changed or not changed?

I only wish I was still in contact with the subjects in the film. I’ve since moved on to working as the director of communications for the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation which integrates design and infrastructure to bring people water and nature together along the entire 51-mile Los Angeles River.


What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?

Any of the people I interviewed would certainly love to have your support. So reach out and see how you can get involved.


Please provide any additional resources (websites, links to additional videos, forms, articles, etc.):

Watch Ted Talks.



© SIMA Academy