On Production: Smartypants Talks Producing Their First Oscar Nom
Among the nominees for Best Documentary Short at this year’s 95th Academy Awards is Joshua Seftel’s Stranger at the Gate (executive produced by Malala Yousafzai).
Produced by the team at Smartypants, the film traces the story of Richard “Mac” McKinney, a former US Marine whose plan to bomb a Muncie, Indiana mosque was cut short by the friendships he formed with its congregants. The story traverses important issues like PTSD, Islamophobia, and the power of human connection in the face of corrosive hate.
Seftel founded Smartypants in 2014 to “craft stories that connect with people.” In the nearly 10 years since Smartypants was founded, the company has received numerous awards and accolades: a National Emmy, a Critics’ Choice, an ADDY, a Clio, a Webby, and even a James Beard. But Stranger at the Gate is Smartypants’—and Seftel’s—first Oscar nomination.
We interviewed Smartypants' producers, Suzanne Hillinger and Conall Jones on the making of the film.
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