Field Studio is a collaboration of Hannah Ayers and Lance Warren. We film events, people, and causes that make a difference. Founded in Harlem, Field Studio is now based in Richmond, Virginia.
Field Studio is a collaboration of Hannah Ayers and Lance Warren, married documentary filmmakers based in Richmond, Virginia. We make story-driven media at the intersection of history and social justice.
We are co-directors of the new public television series, The Future of America’s Past, exploring sites of hard and complicated history. Hosted by Ed Ayers, the show journeys to the front lines of American history with host Ed Ayers, meeting artists, curators, and activists who help define our past.
Our first film, That World is Gone: Race and Displacement in a Southern Town, won the Audience Award for Short Documentary at the 2010 Virginia Film Festival. Our second film, An Outrage (an-outrage.com), about lynching in the American South, premiered at the Smithsonian Museum of American History in March 2017. The Southern Poverty Law Center has deployed the film and a comprehensive curriculum to its Teaching Tolerance network of nearly 500,000 teachers. We’ve toured the film to festivals, universities, and museums, reaching 85 venues in 26 states. We serve on the Virginia General Assembly’s Working Group on the History and Legacy of Lynching in Virginia, and are developing a community discussion guide to ensure that An Outrage continues to serve as a tool for productive conversations about racial violence.
In June 2017, we received a grant from Virginia Humanities to produce The Hail-Storm: John Dabney in Virginia, a hidden history of an astounding African American restaurateur. The Hail-Storm premiered in November 2017 at the sold-out, third-annual John Dabney Dinner, a signature event of Richmond's Fire, Flour & Fork food festival. In February 2018, the film launched programming for Black History Month on WCVE and WHTJ, Central Virginia PBS affiliates. The film was nominated for a Capital Region Emmy in May 2019. The Hail-Storm, along with a viewer discussion guide, recipes, and web extras, is also freely available on the film's website (hailstormdabney.com).
Our short documentary about Woke Vote, a political coalition working to mobilize black millennials to shake up electoral politics, was published by Facing South in May 2019. The progressive online magazine also published an essay written by us. Woke Vote played at Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham and Afrikana Independent Film Festival in Richmond.
Our work extends to other forms of media and to other urgent issues of social justice. In 2016, we produced the multimedia project Richmond Justice (richmondjustice.org), documenting the criminal justice system through portraits, text, audio, and video. In May 2017, we were selected to join the inaugural class of Visiting Artists sponsored by the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation to create video stories about health equity.
Inspired by family members and by earlier work, we’re driven to make media designed to help teachers bring history to life in their classrooms. Our most recent educational effort is the Teaching Hard History series for Teaching Tolerance: a series of ten videos featuring stories about American slavery and the slave trade.
Hannah was raised in Charlottesville, Virginia, and attended the College of William & Mary and Columbia University. Her background is in history, nonprofit development, and multimedia storytelling. Previously, Hannah supported fundraising and communications efforts at the human rights video advocacy organization WITNESS. Hannah serves on the Board of the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia.
Lance was raised in Virginia. He studied history and politics at Syracuse University and Brandeis University, focusing on civil rights and social justice in the twentieth century United States. From 2010-2016 he supported the work of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, producing online courses, video series, and virtual field trips for history teachers across the country. Lance’s writing has been published by Longreads and Facing South.