Grand Jury Perspective: Robert E. Frye

New York Festivals International Television & Film Awards Grand Jury is comprised of some of the world’s most award-winning Directors, Producers, Writers, Actors and other global media professionals. Each Grand Jury member has achieved prominence within the industry and garnered respect for their creative contributions.

Robert E. Frye, Independent Producer and Director/Filmmaker, Whistling Communications

NYF’s Grand Jury Perspective offers an intimate glimpse into the thought process and creative insights of these industry superstars who serve on the Grand Jury. This week, New York Festivals TV & Film Grand Jury Perspective interviewed Grand Jury member, Robert E. Frye, Independent Producer and Director Filmmaker at Whistling Communications. He is a respected Emmy award-winning producer and director of news and documentaries for over four decades.

Frye’s most recent documentary “The Nuclear Requiem” is the second film in a series of films on the continuing challenge of dealing with nuclear weapons. ( His first documentary “In My Lifetime” a presentation of The Nuclear World Project tells the story of the creation of nuclear weapons. Released in 2013, the award-winning documentary has been shown on television in the United States and internationally with broadcasts in Germany, France, Spain, throughout Scandinavia, as well as in China, South Korea and Australia.

Frye produced broadcasts at ABC News, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and public television in the United States. He was the founding Executive Producer of the acclaimed ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings; Executive Producer of Good Morning America, News, and the creator of World News This Morning.

In 1988, he founded his own independent production company and produced a CINE Golden Eagle award winning documentary entitled “Kristallnacht: The Journey from 1938 to 1988” and ten years later “The Berlin Airlift” broadcast on PBS to observe the 50th anniversary of that epic event. Frye also produced and directed a one-hour documentary “Russia: Facing the Future” for Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Along the way Frye has earned numerous prestigious awards from respected competitions including the Emmy, Dupont-Columbia Silver Batons and the Peabody.

New York Festivals: Talk about what qualities makes great content?

Robert E. Frye: For all the years I have been producing and directing films the basic rule is telling a story with clarity, well researched and having the voices featured in the documentary be straightforward in what they are speaking about. This combined with the images and editing which “flow” through the story told, create for me a seamless film.

New York Festivals: What was your mantra for career success?

Robert E. Frye: Have the passion for the work I do, if you care about the story then the rest takes care of itself. Also, don’t worry about the clock, when I first started a wise man gave me a very important piece of advice “don’t work against the clock, work with time.

New York Festivals: Was your path to success linear or a winding road…how so?

Robert E. Frye: Of course, it has not been a “glide path”, many twists and turns, as well as unexpected moments. There is a wonderful saying “pick yourself up, dust yourself off”. Also, the Irish prayer “the wind at your back” Finally the vision to be involved in story has kept me going to this day.

New York Festivals: What are some of the tools you use to keep your audience?

Robert E. Frye: I have found over the years that showing the finished documentary to those who are featured and if the comments received from them are positive, my experience has been they can be the most critical when it comes to the truthfulness of the story told. The wonderful thing to me is that “truth is stranger than fiction” and to amend that “Truth is al stronger than fiction. Today many try to stretch the reality of a story told, it ultimately is up to the audience to accept what the story means to them.

New York Festivals: Share your thoughts on freedom of the press?

Robert E. Frye: We are living in challenging times. However, as I write these words, since I was drawn to this work in the early 1960’s, the fact is every period presents challenging times. The nature of this business, provides an opportunity to tell the story, whatever it is. The first amendment is key to why in the United States, one has to uphold the principles of freedom of the press as well as to honor that principle and to exercise the responsibility of those rights. Always.

New York Festivals: How has video streaming changed your creative approach?

Robert E. Frye: No, it is just another working tool in getting the story out there.

New York Festivals: Talk about how story structure has changed with the spread of mobile?

Robert E. Frye: Although the spread of mobile has foreshortened the length of time the receiver will take to listen, watch or read what you are sending, the nature of storytelling is the same. But then again over the years I have worked in all formats, from a :45 second report to a three-hour documentary. The basic principle is framing the story and having a conclusion on why you are telling the story.

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