Melina Kolb (MSJ09) is a first-time documentary filmmaker and a full-time storyteller who is a multimedia producer at the Population Reference Bureau. She creates videos, interactive features and data visualizations based on demographic data for public policy audiences worldwide.
Previously, she was the founder of Chicago-based Tellit Multimedia, where she ran her own media production company that specialized in video and photography services for non-profits. She also produced and directed an independent documentary about Sue Duncan, mother of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
After graduating from Medill, she discovered a need in the non-profit community for high quality, but affordable multimedia stories that organizations could share through their website, social media, and fundraising events. She used the skills she acquired at Medill in all steps of the process, from interviewing staff and participants to editing video and audio pieces that are short, honest, and compelling. While working on her independent film, she relied on her Medill editing prowess to mold over 50 hours of footage into a 55-minute story.
One of the highlights of her Medill education was the News21 Fellowship (an optional, application-based fifth quarter) that sent her to Marfa, Texas, to make a video series. She spent a few days embedded in the tiny town of 1,000, brainstorming how to translate its offbeat artsy vibe into a web story. She ended up hand-drawing a map that let users click on different town locations to watch a mini-doc. She customized each video with crazy music by a local musician. “I received a lot of support from faculty to be really creative with the project,” she says.