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Blackbeard investigates under-reported issues around the world. Check out some of our latest projects below.

Toxic Leather

Bangladesh is exporting more of its leather each year, at the expense of workers and the environment.

For AJ+

Blood & Gold

In the wilds of northern Burma’s Kachin state, a brutal civil war grinds on.

For Al Jazeera English

Join us on Medium for all our latest stories and dispatches from the field. Read below to stay up to date with the latest news on upcoming live events and trainings, new media coverage and more.

In Iraq’s disputed territory, minorities are embracing Kurdish control

Kurdish forces filled the security vacuum when Iraqi army left, much to the relief of this ethnically diverse town, which lies in disputed territory. (Jason Motlagh/For The Washington Post)
TOPZAWA, Iraq — Up until a month ago, Baraq Taqan Ali split his time between two homes and two wives in what was a unified Iraq. Now, when the 55-year-old used-car dealer makes his weekly trip, he traverses the turf of two warring factions, neither of them loyal to Baghdad.

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Just Go: Words of Wisdom from Two Globe-Trotting Documentarians

LOS ANGELES — On May 7, we spoke with Raan & Shea Parton of Apolis about getting started in a career in multimedia journalism, our opinions on where media is headed and some of our favorite challenging projects to date. Featured on

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Inside Out in Bangladesh

Inside Out in Bangladesh
DHAKA – In collaboration with artist JR’s global Inside Out Project and CounterFoto, an upstart photo agency founded by my friend Saiful Haq Omi, we installed mural-sized pictures of garment workers on the walls and roofs of the capital’s largest slum, Korail, part of a day-long event that also included a community clean up.

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Blackbeard is a global multimedia collective dedicated to producing films, reportage and live events that push boundaries and fuel conversation.


What We Do

Our field experience spans more than 100 countries and six continents, with a focus on conflict, social justice and the environment. We are drawn to difficult and underreported stories, and we deliver them to a global audience that values depth and engagement.





The Team

Jason Motlagh

Co-Founder / Director

Jason is an award-winning writer, photographer and filmmaker. Formerly TIME magazine’s Kabul correspondent, he has reported from more than fifty countries spanning West Africa to Southeast Asia for The Washington Post, Economist and BusinessWeek, with stories forthcoming in Outside and Harper’s. He is a contributing editor at VQR and his work on conflict and human rights issues worldwide has been supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

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In 2010, he won the National Magazine Award for News Reporting for “Sixty Hours of Terror,” a four-part VQR series on the Mumbai terror attacks. His essay, “The Ghosts of Rana Plaza,” was a finalist for the 2015 National Magazine Award in Reporting and winner of the Overseas Press Club’s Madeline Dane Ross award for best international reporting on the human condition. Other recognitions include the Sigma Delta Chi and Daniel Pearl Award for best reporting on South Asia.

Jason is the co-founder of Blackbeard Films, an Oakland, California-based company that produces news documentaries and online features for the Al Jazeera networks, National Geographic and others. He enjoys teaching workshops on multimedia journalism and previously worked as a commercial fisherman in Alaska.

James Hall

Co-Founder / Director of Photography

James Hall-Irrawaddy Portrait
James is a photographer and documentary filmmaker who has worked for National Geographic, TIME, programs on the Al Jazeera English and America networks, AJ+, the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and others. He has worked extensively in Southeast Asia and Central America, producing social documentary projects for non-profit groups such as CARE International, World Vision, USAID, KIVA and Save the Children.

You can view more of his photography at

Susie Taylor

Director of Development

Susie is a film producer with a background in international law. She has reported on a wide range of issues in the developing world, with a focus on post-conflict transitions and women’s rights. She has worked on films for Al Jazeera America and Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, American Interest and Ms. Magazine. A visual artist and advocate, Susie has also spearheaded global street art campaigns for Blackbeard in partnership with JR & The Inside Out Project.

Mark Oltmanns


Mark Oltmanns is a documentary filmmaker and director of photography whose work has appeared on PBS, Al Jazeera, VICE-on-HBO, the GlobalPost and others. In 2014, he was a Livingston Award finalist for a film on Thailand’s southern insurgency. He earned a Masters Degree from the University of California-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism in 2012. Mark also lived and worked in Southeast Asia for 7 years and speaks fluent Thai and French.

Spencer Chumbley


Spencer Chumbley is a producer and director of photography based in Washington, DC. His work has been featured by VICE, Al Jazeera English/America, The Economist, TIME and more. Chumbley’s documentary work is grounded in a strong academic foundation gained through the study of conflict, international development and economics at graduate level. He holds a MSc in Violence, Conflict and Development from the School of Oriental & African Studies at the University of London.

Roger Arnold


Roger is an award-winning filmmaker and photographer who has been producing features for broadcasters, magazines and humanitarian organizations for over a decade. Based in Bangkok, he has worked in over 50 countries including the most remote areas of Asia, Africa and the Pacific. His portfolio ranges from war in Afghanistan to in-depth documentary features on women in conflict zones, and investigations into wildlife trafficking and environmental crime. His coverage of the Red Shirt protests in Thailand won the 2010 Rory Peck Award for News and was featured on the BBC’s ‘Firing Line’.

Dave Zlutnick


David Zlutnick is an award-winning documentarian and video journalist based in San Francisco. His work has taken him around the globe – from Latin America to the Middle East to back home in the Bay Area – and is regularly featured on outlets such as MSNBC, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, USA TODAY, RT,, among others. David focuses on under-reported issues to amplify the voices of historically marginalized communities and highlight the human side of complex social issues.

Mark Sugg

Editor / Project Development

Mark is a pioneer in public interest video production in the nation’s capital. He has been in the business of producing television programs, documentary films and online video productions for more than 25 years. In addition to partnerships with clients such as National Geographic, The World Bank Group, Ocean Foundation and The Ford Foundation, Mark has produced the popular PBS series Foreign Exchange with Fareed Zakaria and numerous documentaries.

We are based in Oakland, CA, and we work worldwide.

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For general inquiries or to share story ideas, please use the form below. We travel frequently and will respond as soon as we can.