American Masters: Richard Linklater – dream is destiny

Production Bios

Air date: 09/01/2017

American Masters: Richard Linklater – dream is destiny

Premieres nationwide Friday, September 1 at 9/8c on PBS (check local listings)


Production Bios


Louis Black

Director and Producer

Louis Black is a legendary cultural force in Austin’s film world. As a co-founder of SXSW (which he named after Hitchcock’s North By Northwest), he helped originate the festival’s film component. His love of film dates to his teens when he would skip school with friend Leonard Maltin and attend film screenings in New York City (once meeting Buster Keaton) to watch as many films as possible. While obtaining his master’s degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin in the early 1980s, he was a director and programmer at CinemaTexas. He was an original board member of the Austin Film Society, led by Richard Linklater. As co-founder and editor of The Austin Chronicle, he helped shape the city’s rich culture of both making and appreciating great cinema. In 2000, along with Texas Monthly editor Evan Smith, he launched AFS’ “Texas Film Hall of Fame.” Most recently he co-directed his first film, American Masters: Richard Linklater – Dream is Destiny, a documentary about Richard Linklater which premiered at Sundance and received a standing ovation at Rome Film Fest. He executive produced Be Here to Love Me, A Film About Townes Van Zandt, was a producer on two other films by Margaret Brown, the Peabody Award-winning The Order of Myths and the acclaimed The Great Invisible, as well as on Keith Maitland’s Tower, short listed for the Academy Awards. Currently, he is an executive producer on Blaze, written and directed by Ethan Hawke, which is in post-production. Over the years he also has produced reissues of classic Texas films, including Eagle Pennell’s The Whole Shootin’ Match and Last Night at the Alamo as well as Tobe Hooper’s Eggshells. In 2015, he produced a DVD release of Jonathan Demme Presents: Made in Texas, a program of shorts he co-curated that were shown at the Collective for Living Cinema in New York City in 1981. Currently, he is working on a number of documentary and narrative films as well as more reissues of classic Texas independent films. Appropriately, he is also finishing a book on the films of director Jonathan Demme. With his partner Sandy K. Boone, he has co-created a number of companies designed to promote both new independent filmmaking and preserve Texas’ rich film legacy.

Karen Bernstein

Director and Producer

A Grammy- and Emmy Award-winning producer for over 35 years, Karen Bernstein has begun her mid-life as a director. Having worked with some of the documentary greats — Henry Hampton, Charlotte Zwerin, Ellen Spiro, Phil Donahue, Helen Whitney and Susan Lacy, to name a few — Bernstein has directed Producing Light, transFIGURATION and Are the Kids Alright for PBS. Other award-winning credits include Troop 1500, Body of War and Children of Giant. Body of War was produced with Donahue and Spiro, toured multiple film festivals around the world, and was shortlisted for an Academy Award in 2008. Troop 1500, also with Spiro, premiered at SXSW in 2005 and was broadcast on PBS on Independent Lens in 2006. With Galan Inc., Bernstein produced Children of Giant, which explored the remarkable intersection between art and life in Marfa, Texas, where George Stevens filmed his epic work Giant in 1954. I’m Going to Make You Love Me is her documentary feature in progress, in association with Picturebox, and edited by Nevie Owens.

Dawn Johnson

Producer for Arts+Labor

Dawn Johnson grew up in Austin and went to college at University of Texas, graduating with a double major in Government and Philosophy. Asked to work on a documentary with Richard Linklater, she became hooked on the process of filmmaking. Since then she has worked on a variety of documentary projects such as Margaret Brown’s film about Townes Van Zandt, Be Here To Love Me, the ITVS-funded The Nuclear Family, and the A&E series Heavy. Johnson is a senior producer at Arts+Labor. She has produced Outside Industry about the history of the SXSW music conference and Sir Doug and the Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove, which premiered at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival.

David Layton


David Layton is an Austin-based filmmaker with a passion for cinematography and documentary film. He began his career as a newspaper reporter, but honed his technical skills working as a camera operator, focus puller and gaffer on notable documentaries such as The Unforeseen, Be Here to Love Me, The Devil and Daniel Johnston, You’re Gonna Miss Me, Nuclear Family, Troop 1500 and Letter From Waco, to name just a few. Layton produced and directed his first documentary feature, The Hot Shoe, in 2004. That film, about professional blackjack card counters, was broadcast in the U.S., the U.K. and across Scandinavia. In 2011, Layton was a co-producer and cinematographer for Better This World, which was broadcast on the PBS series POV. He is cinematographer for two films that aired on PBS in 2015, By The River of Babylon: an Elegy for South Louisiana and Moving Mountains: Land Arts in the American West. His current directorial project is a Picturebox documentary production, The Newspaperman.

Nevie Owens


Upon graduation from University of Denver, where she was a communication and philosophy major, Nevie Owens landed a position as an assistant editor under Sandra Adair on the Richard Linklater film Before Sunrise. This led to lead editor on Kat Candler’s directorial debut, Jumping Off Bridges. Other key editing credits include Mitch Schultz’s groundbreaking documentary DMT: The Spirit Molecule, Matt Muir and Sundance Alum Chris Ohlson’s Thank You Alot, and Karen Bernstein’s Emmy-winning documentary Producing Light. Cancerpants is her own film which was named Best Documentary at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival. The narrative feature The Teller and Truth is her most recent editing credit and premiered at The Austin Film Festival. Owens is currently editing Bernstein’s feature documentary I’m Going To Make You Love Me.

Graham Reynolds


Called “the quintessential modern composer” by the London Independent, Austin-based composer/bandleader Graham Reynolds creates, performs and records music for film, theater, dance, rock clubs and concert halls with collaborators ranging from Richard Linklater and Jack Black to DJ Spooky and Ballet Austin. Heard throughout the world in films, on TV, on stage and on radio from HBO to Showtime, Cannes Film Festival to the Kennedy Center, and BBC to NPR, he recently scored Before Midnight starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, Bernie with Jack Black, and his score to the Robert Downey, Jr., feature A Scanner Darkly was named “Best Soundtrack of the Decade” by Cinema Retro magazine. With Golden Arm Trio, Reynolds has repeatedly toured the country and released five critically-acclaimed albums, including the simultaneous release of The Difference Engine: A Triple Concerto and DUKE! Three Portraits of Ellington on Innova Records with distribution by Naxos, the world’s biggest classical label. As co-artistic director of the 501(c)3 Golden Hornet Project with Peter Stopschinski, Reynolds has produced more than 50 concerts of world premiere alt-classical music by more than 60 composers, as well as five symphonies, two concertos and countless chamber pieces of his own. With Forklift Danceworks, Reynolds has scored pieces involving 18 trash trucks, 200 two-steppers and a solo piece for traffic cop. Graham is an active company member, sound designer and composer with the internationally acclaimed Rude Mechanicals and resident composer with Salvage Vanguard Theater.

Michael Kantor

Executive Producer for American Masters Pictures; American Masters Series Executive Producer

For more than two decades, award-winning filmmaker Michael Kantor has created outstanding arts programs for television. He joined American Masters as the series’ executive producer in April 2014 during its 28th season on PBS, and founded its theatrical imprint American Masters Pictures in January 2016. American Masters Pictures was represented by three films at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival: Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You, Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise and Richard Linklater – dream is destiny.

Prior to joining American Masters, his PBS documentary series Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle (2013), hosted by Liev Schreiber, was nominated for an Emmy Award. Random House published the companion book. Kantor’s Peabody Award-winning film Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy (2013) aired as part of the Great Performances series on PBS. Narrated by Joel Grey, it included performances by Matthew Broderick, Kelli O’Hara, David Hyde Pierce, Marc Shaiman and many other Broadway talents. In 2012, Kantor produced The Thomashefskys: Music and Memories of a Life in the Yiddish Theater with Michael Tilson Thomas, which aired on PBS and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy. Kantor served as executive producer of the special Give Me the Banjo, hosted by Steve Martin, and created Make ’Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America (2009), the critically acclaimed six-part documentary series hosted by Billy Crystal. His script for episode four, When I’m Bad, I’m Better: The Groundbreakers, co-authored with Laurence Maslon, was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award. His landmark six-part series Broadway: The American Musical was hosted by Julie Andrews and honored with the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Nonfiction Series in 2005. That same year, he created three hours of DVD extras for 20th Century Fox’s 40th anniversary release of The Sound of Music.

Kantor wrote, directed and produced the award-winning profile American Masters: Quincy Jones: In the Pocket. With Stephen Ives, he co-directed Cornerstone: An Interstate Adventure for HBO, and produced The West (executive producer Ken Burns). His 20 years of work in documentaries include projects as varied as EGG: the arts show, Coney Island, The Donner Party, Margaret Sanger and Ric Burns’ New York series. As a writer, Kantor created Lullaby of Broadway: Opening Night on 42nd Street, co-authored the companion books to Broadway (Bulfinch) and Make ’Em Laugh (Grand Central Publishing) and has published numerous essays and articles. He is president of Almo Inc., a company that distributes the American Film Theatre series, which includes Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance (starring Katharine Hepburn), Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh (Lee Marvin) and Chekhov’s Three Sisters (Laurence Olivier) among its titles. Kantor has served as a Tony nominator and taught documentary filmmaking at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and lives in Scarsdale, New York.