Documentarian James McConnell had
the very good fortune of working with two of
America's foremost non-fiction filmmakers, Albert
Maysles and his brother David (1932-1987) who are
recognized as pioneers of "direct cinema," the
distinctly American version of French "cinema verité."
They earned their distinguished reputations by being the
first to make non-fiction feature films- films in which
the drama of human life unfolds as is, without scripts,
sets, or narration.
While at Maysles Films McConnell
corroborated with Joe Berlinger on several artistic and
commercial projects. Berlinger was just one of many
young filmmakers who got their start at Masyles Films
and then went on to achieve their own fortune and fame.
Joe Berlinger, in collaboration with Bruce Sinofsky
(another young filmmaker who owes his start to Maysles
Films), has created such films as Paradise Lost about
the West Memphis 3, Brother's Keeper, Some Kind of
Monster, and Crude.
McConnell began developing his skills as a documentarian
at Financial News Network in 1984 at the Wall Street studios
where he worked as a studio floor manager, live camera
operator and ENG production assistant. FNN provided a
strong training ground for developing his craft.
McConnell went on to work with director Sean Hobin on
independent productions focusing their early efforts on
several corporate sales videos.
Soon after McConnell entered the
music video industry by joining Picture Music
International in their New York office. PMI was
responsible for pioneering many of the first successful
music videos of the day including The Cars, Michael
Jackson, Billy Idol, Robert Palmer and more.
McConnell expanded his client base and began working
with some of New York's top film production companies
Maysles Films, Ross Gafney, Androzzi Tobach, Michael
Grasso Productions, Peter Heath & Associates, Foote Cone
& Belding, Michael Eha & Associates, Overview
Productions, Ponytail Productions and others.
Work includes: Chevrolet Camero, Welches Grape Drink, Ms.
Pac Man Cereal, Mercury Merkur, Sony, WPIX Channel 11,
ABC News, Regis Philbin Show, Signet Bank, Wendy’s,
MacDonald’s, Diet 7up, Columbia Coffee, Weichert Realtor
credited with being the first to conceptualize a newly
developed program format
that help lead to the all-new genre of
Reality Television. The program McConnell
originally proposed was
a REALITY program focused on human interest, not the
freakish reality television we see today. With signed
contracts to develop the program with
Saturday Night Live, McConnell embarked on
a spiritual quest to find truth - a journey that
resulted in him giving up the life of fame and fortune
he sought earlier. The program concept was later
turned into Taxi Cab Confessions, still
airing on HBO.
After embracing the Islamic "Sufi" faith McConnell was
contracted by Sound Vision to develop several
live to tape remote productions for national conferences
and meetings. Works included: M.V.P. national basketball
star Hakeem Olijawon video “ Proud to be a Muslim”
and early productions featuring Sh. Hamza Yusef.
Over the years McConnell has continued to work in the capacity as a
new media consultant for major clients. He lived
with his wife and son for eight years in Damascus Syria
and now resides in Preston Connecticut.
McConnell began Sufi Films and has directed and produced
several productions that are still in distribution. He
now looks forward to developing more films under the
Sufi Films name and hopes to pass along much of his
skills and knowledge to a new generation of filmmakers.
Recent Web Commercial Work