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Frederick Lewis

Associate Professor

Schoonover Center 331
Cell: 740-274-1650 (preferred)
Office: 740-593-4876
lewisf@ohio.edu

Areas of Expertise

  • Documentary Studies/Production
  • Scriptwriting
  • Narrative Production

Prior to transitioning to higher education, Professor Lewis was, for 14 years, a producer, writer, director and program/production manager based in New England. During that span he worked in commercial, cable and public television, producing and directing everything from documentaries and public affairs programs to corporate video, commercials and Division I college basketball.

His independent documentaries have been seen on PBS stations throughout the U.S. and screened at more than 70 cultural/educational venues, including the National Gallery of Art, Library of Congress, the Lake Placid Film Forum and the Explorers Club in NYC. These projects have taken him to Russia, Greenland, Argentina, Chile (sailing to Cape Horn), Denmark, Ireland, Newfoundland and Alaska.

Lewis is an internationally known authority on the life of controversial artist, adventurer, and social activist Rockwell Kent (1882-1971). Ann Hornaday, chief film critic for the Washington Post, wrote that his three-hour documentary on Kent “plays like a two-part installment of PBS’s American Masters,” calling it “a sweeping, detailed, visually rich portrait of a man who emerges as a complex, compelling and finally contradictory force of nature, a charismatic reflection of the eras in which he lived…”

Now at work on a definitive biography of Kent, Lewis has been an Arctic Studies Fellow at the Uummannaq Polar Institute in Greenland researching Kent’s two extended visits to the region in the 1930s. He has twice been a writer in residence at Landfall, an artist’s retreat in Brigus, Newfoundland that was Kent’s home in 1914-15.

Professor Lewis’s free-lance articles have appeared in The Scandinavian Review, Fine Art Connoisseur and Newfoundland Quarterly, among other publications.

A 2:49 marathon runner (back in the day), Lewis is the producer, writer and director of That Golden Distance, a regional Emmy-winning documentary about the Boston Marathon during the 1930s and ‘40s, and the author of Young at Heart: The Story of Johnny Kelley, Boston’s Marathon Man, published by Rounder Books.

Most recently, Professor Lewis wrote, directed and co-produced Paul Laurence Dunbar: Beyond the Mask. This two-hour documentary about the life and legacy of the first African American writer to achieve national and international fame has aired on many PBS affiliates, screened at festivals in Toronto, San Francisco and Atlanta, and been presented at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati and the Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. More than a dozen of Professor Lewis’s former students made contributions to the project, filming at locations throughout the U.S., editing, composing music and assisting with research. The winner of a regional Emmy Award for Historical Documentary, major funding came from the National Endowment for the Humanities and Ohio Humanities.

For 18 years, Lewis taught MDIA “419” a two-semester program in advanced narrative production that produced 62 short films and 2 feature-length movies. Often adapted from the work of distinguished authors such as Richard Russo, Russell Banks, TC Boyle and Dave Eggers, these projects immersed 50-70 students each year in all aspects of filmmaking, from script development and fundraising to budgeting, casting, location scouting, production, post-production and publicity. Funds raised by the students over the years exceeded $500,000. Various projects were shot on location in California, South Carolina, Michigan, Texas, Tennessee, Maine and Canada. Many of these student films won national and regional awards and screened at numerous film festivals.

Each summer, Professor Lewis directs the Media School’s Screenwriting and Documentary Storytelling program in County Donegal, Ireland, a program he created in 2011. In 2015 he began directing a similar program in Seville, Spain during winter break. He has, to date, taken more than 230 students overseas, having also designed and directed study abroad programs and production projects in Germany, Morocco, Malaysia, Guyana and Ecuador.

For 15 years, Lewis served as the founding faculty coordinator of Shootout, the Media School’s annual 48-hour filmmaking competition. More than 300 students take part in this event each year.

Frederick Lewis is a recipient of the Presidential Teacher Award, Ohio University’s highest honor for transformative teaching, curriculum innovation and mentoring. He is passionately committed to experiential learning. Quoth Confucius, “Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember. Let me do and I understand.”

Professor Lewis has been a Fulbright Specialist at the University of Pecs in Hungary, and a teaching fellow at the Northern Film School at Leeds Beckett University in Yorkshire, UK. He has professed in the graduate school of journalism at the University of Kiev-Mohyla Academy in Ukraine, and been a U.S. Embassy (Berlin, Germany) lecturer at Martin Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg and Freiberg University of Technology in Saxony.

Lewis has conducted production workshops at Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Vietnam and at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. He has also been a guest lecturer at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China and at the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines in France.

Stateside, Professor Lewis previously taught at Boston University, the Rhode Island School of Design, and for three summers at the International Film & Television Workshops in Rockport, Maine (mainemedia.edu).

Education
 M.A. Creative Writing/Literary Arts, Brown University
 B.A. English, University of Massachusetts