» Sally Rubin
Assistant Professor

Lawrence and Kristina Dodge College of Film and Media Arts
Sally Rubin
Office Location:
Chapman Studios West 119
(714) 289-3505
Tufts University, Bachelor of Arts
Stanford University, Master of Arts
Video Profile

Sally Rubin is a documentary filmmaker and editor who has worked in field for over 15 years. She recently completed Life on the Line (co-director, editor, with filmmaking partner Jen Gilomen) about a teenage girl growing up on the U.S./Mexico border. The film broadcast nationally on PBS in Fall 2014 and premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Her previous film, Deep Down was an ITVS-funded feature-length documentary about two friends in eastern Kentucky who find themselves divided over mountaintop removal coal mining near their homes. The film was part of the 2010-2011 Independent Lens Emmy-winning PBS series, and has reached almost 1.5 million people through its broadcast, distribution, and outreach campaign. It was nominated for an Emmy for its Virtual Mine outreach project, in the category of New Approaches to News and Documentary. Rubin is currently working with co-director Ashley York on a feature-length documentary film called The Hollywood Hillbilly, about representations of Appalachia and white rural America in the media.

Rubin's other credits include The Last Mountain, a film about her father's death in a hiking accident that was broadcast on PBS, Robert Greenwald's Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers and the television series The Freedom Files (editor), as well as David Sutherland's 6-hour Frontline special Country Boys (associate producer), and Riverwebs (editor), which broadcast nationally on PBS. In 2004 Rubin founded the groundbreaking Straight Outta Grrrlville Film Festival in San Francisco, and continues to produce local events and benefits for artists and filmmakers, in conjunction with her own continued work.

Rubin is a full time documentary professor at Chapman University. Other professional memberships and affiliations include: Doculink Steering Committee: Member; Doculink Planning Committee: Member; Tenth Muse Films: President of the Board; International Documentary Association: Member; International Documentary Association David Wolper Award: Member, Screening and Judging Committees; International Documentary Association Awards: Feature Documentary Judge; New Day Films Cooperative:  Member/Owner.

After earning her M.A. in Documentary Film and Video from Stanford University, Rubin fell deeply in love with the field of documentary film, where she hopes to continue working for a very long time.

Recent Creative, Scholarly Work and Publications
Ongoing production and now post-production on a documentary I'm co-directing and co-producing, entitled "Hillbilly," about media representation of the Appalachian region and rural America. The project has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others. We have raised half a million dollars for the project and expect to complete it by the end of 2017.
Producing "Her Appalachia," an interactive website and digital storytelling project to accompany "Hillbilly." "Her Appalachia" is funded by the Kentucky Foundation for Women and uses photography, audio stories, archival footage, and personal artifacts, to tell the stories of mountain and Southern women.
Emmy Awards, National Academy of the Arts and Sciences: Judge
Producer on this short, experimental documentary film about a transgendered opera singer in San Francisco. The film premiered at the Frameline and Outfest film festivals in 2016.
Editor on "After Coal," directed by Tom Hansell, a feature-length documentary for public television broadcast, directed by Tom Hansell, about how small communities survive after their natural resources have been extracted. Premiered on WVPB West Virginia PBS and at the Princeton Environmental, Hay, Athens International, and West Virginia International Film Festivals.
Editorial Consultant on "This Won't Be on the Test," a work-in-progress documentary about the importance of after-school and extracurricular programs to American education.
Additional film festival screenings of "Life on the Line" in 2015, in addition to the ones already listed below: Big as Texas Film Festival, Boston International Kids Festival, Los Angeles Indie Film Festival, Oregon Underground Film Festival, Providence Children’s Film Festival, Saint Louis International Film Festival, The Big Read Official Selection, Viva Latino Film Festival
Los Angeles premiere of "Life on the Line" at the Mark Taper Auditorium at the Los Angeles Public Library. In conjunction with "The Big Read" Los Angeles. Panelists at the event included Lucy Santana, Executive Director of Girls Inc, Linda Lopez, Chief of Immigrant Services in the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, and moderator Desiree Gutierrez of Impact Media Partners.
"Life on the Line" re-broadcast nationally on PBS in September as part of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Producer on this 15-minute documentary about a transgendered opera singer, directed by Nicole Opper.
Editorial Consultant on this film about how small communities in Wales and Appalachia are able to survive after their natural resources are gone. Directed by Tom Hansell, for PBS.
Screened at the 2014 University Film and Video Association, won Honorable Mention in the category of Best Documentary.
"Life on the Line" film festival run still in progress: Best Environmental Documentary, Mexico International Film Festival; Arizona International Film Festival; Los Angeles Lift Off Film Festival; Chicago Social Change Film Festival Saint Louis International Film Festival; San Francisco Independent Film Festival; Santa Barbara International Film Festival; White Sands International Film Festival
'Life on the Line" selected as official documentary for "The Big Read," an annual initiative through the Los Angeles Unified School District that disseminates documentaries to schools and public libraries across the city. Film will be seen and used by thousands of students as a result.
"Life on the Line" broadcast nationally on PBS in September 2014 as part of Hispanic National Heritage Month, and ongoingly for two years following.
Completed "Life Lines," interactive youth digital storytelling project created with organizational partners Las Latinitas, Girls Inc, and El Viento, working with youth in the four Mexico border states to tell stories about their lives. For online dissemination in conjunction with "Life on the Line." Two Chapman students were hired as paid Editors.
Feature-length documentary in progress about the history of media representation of the Appalachian region over the past century and a half.
Completed (co-directed and edited) "Life on the Line," documentary film for national PBS broadcast in September 2014. See www.finelinefilms.org/lifeontheline for more.
Documentary completed in 2010, "Deep Down," will be included in the American Conservation National Film Festival.
Edited additional behind-the-scenes documentary/promo for PBS Frontline national broadcast of the documentary "Kind-Hearted Woman." This additional piece was included on the national press tour for the film.
Edited 27-minute cut of the documentary "Real Boy," about a transgendered teenager and directed by Shaleece Haas, intended for national PBS broadcast.
Completed initial cut of "Life on the Line," documentary intended for national PBS broadcast about a teenage girl living on the border of Arizona and Mexico. Film has so far received grants from Chapman, the Puffin Foundation, the Fledgling Fund, and was a finalist for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's ITVS Open Call grant. Film is currently in consideration for funding through ITVS in partnership with KAET Phoenix.
Developed transmedia project about youth on the Mexico/US border, called "Voices from the Line," which received funding from the Fledgling Fund. Project is currently in production.
Created several short pieces about ranchers on the border of Arizona and Mexico, to accompany my feature-length documentary-in-progress on the topic, intended for PBS.
"Deep Down" documentary, Winner, Best Documentary Award, University Film and Video Association's Annual Conference.
Edited "Wildness," a feature-length documentary for theatrical release. The film premiered at South By Southwest Film Festival in January, and screened at this year's Hot Docs festival in Toronto.
Edited a short piece for documentary director Sarah Feeley entitled "Hamsterdam."
Selected for PBS and Independent Lens’ Community Cinema screening series, where about eight films are chosen to be screened in small communities around the country. “Deep Down” has screened in over 150 small communities through this initiative alone, in addition to another 75 or so through our faith-based and environmental outreach campaigns.
Selected for the UFVA’s American Documentary Showcase, an initiative through the US State Department that takes 18 films to every country in the world that has an American Embassy. Invitations have included Nigeria and an upcoming week in Belarus at the end of October. Filmmakers bring their film to universities and embassies to discuss democracy in action, as portrayed in their film.
Edited feature length documentary entitled “The Senior Games” for national broadcast. The film premiered at Silverdocs.
Shot, directed, and edited a short documentary about David Sutherland, cinema verite documentary filmmaker (maker of “Farmer’s Wife” and “County Boys” which had over 40 million viewers collectively). This piece will play online in conjunction with the Frontline broadcast, will be on ITVS’ websites for the film, and will be included on the DVD extras.
Field produced, recorded sound, and edited a 20-minute piece about a 7-year old diabetic girl.
Created additional short piece for national PBS broadcast, about new media initiatives for the film (mountaintop removal coal mine in the virtual reality program, Second Life). Nominated for an Emmy award in August 2011.
Completed (co-directed and edited) feature length documentary film for national PBS broadcast in November 2010. See www.deepdownfilm.org for more. The film was broadcast on PBS’ Emmy award winning series, Independent Lens, to over one million viewers.