• Film

Podcast: Chris L Jenkins and Brandon Kramer on “The First Step”


As we continue exploring Black History Month, HFPA member Kimberly Reyes recently sat down on zoom with two influential filmmakers who have unique credentials to address both where we stand and where we should be headed in entertaining and educating audiences to better understand history.

Also in perfect timing for the milestone month, producer Chris L Jenkins and director Brandon Kramer are promoting their own documentary film, The First Step, which followed media personality and civil rights activist Van Jones as he attempted to build bridges during the Trump era and bring people together from both political parties to pass a landmark criminal justice bill on prison reform, The First Step bill.

For nearly two decades prior, Chris L Jenkins was a reporter and editor at The Washington Post, where he covered politics, criminal justice, immigration, culture and race. As a journalist and documentary film producer, his work also focuses on social justice, identity and progressive culture, with a focus on race, class and equity. His credits include the award-winning documentary, Trapped: Cash Bail in America, streaming on YouTube Originals, and upcoming films, Anthem (2023), Hussle (2023) – on the life and times of Nipsey Hussle – and Shame of Chicago (2023) on PBS.

Director Brandon Kramer holds a BA in film and cultural anthropology from Boston University and previously served as a teaching artist for the John F. Kennedy Center’s national media education program. The Washington, DC-based filmmaker directed City of Trees and the Webby Award-winning documentary series The Messy Truth. As a 2022 and 2015 DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities Individual Arts Fellow. Brandon has also directed over 30 short documentaries commissioned by public agencies and nonprofits, including AARP and US Institute of Peace. He founded Meridian Hill Pictures with his brother, The First Step co-producer Lance Kramer.

Enjoy the podcast!