We founded MUCK MEDIA because the
four five of us love working together. We specialize in investigative documentaries and character-driven series. Collectively, our work has earned a duPont, a Peabody, a Livingston Award for Young Journalists, an Overseas Press Club Award, several Emmy noms, and most recently, audience awards from the Sundance Film Festival and SXSW for our first feature documentary SCIENCE FAIR. We’ve produced projects for Netflix, VICE, ESPN, Nat Geo, Discovery, Fusion, ABC, and others.
We founded MUCK MEDIA because the
Mariana van Zeller
Born and raised in Portugal – saudades. Moved to New York to attend Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. A month into the program, I was reporting live back to Europe on the events of 9/11. In 2003, I went undercover to report on Syrian mujahidin crossing into Iraq to fight against the US invasion. The story captured the first signs of what would be a growing insurgency. Since then: diamonds in Brazil, gold in Colombia; migrants on trains in Mexico and boats in North Africa; Lebanon-Syria-Iraq-Iran; Rape on the Reservation and The OxyContin Express. London, Damascus, Rio are some of the places I’ve called home. Frequently in transit, but if you catch me at the border, I got visas in my name. Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian and French spoken here.
Met a girl (see left) who convinced me to swap a pen for a camera. Love is a battlefield in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and the favelas of Brazil; camel for breakfast in Mauritania, monkey for lunch in the Amazon, dinner of ??? in Nigeria; 2 bouts of amoebic dysentery, 1 flesh-eating parasite; Murtala Muhammad International Airport; a honeymoon with Hezbollah; Kurdish guerillas, Nigerian rebels, Brazilian gangsters, Syrian mujahidin; Narcos; barcos, motor bikes, freight trains, chicken buses and planes, lots of planes. Did my 10,000 hours at Current TVs Vanguard (RIP). Co-creator and series producer of Inside: Secret America on Nat Geo. Series Director of Borderland series on Al Jazeera America. I produce, direct, shoot and still get to write a little bit.
When I was 22, I made a list. I had spent the first year after college working in an office job that wasn’t for me. So the list was, “Top Ten Jobs.” I still have this list and look at it from time to time. My only rule was that I wouldn’t worry about being realistic. So, if “rock star” was number 3, and it was, then I wouldn’t stop myself from putting it down, even though I cannot play an instrument. Other jobs on the list included novelist, kayaking guide and human rights lawyer. But number one was documentary filmmaker so I decided to start there and work my way down. I’m still on number one, thankfully, and in the years since I’ve been lucky enough to direct, produce, shoot, write and edit projects for National Geographic, Discovery, ABC News, Al Jazeera, Current TV, Adidas and Samsung. Here is to hoping I never have to move to job number two, which is…
Writer & Producer of Science Fair, a feature documentary that premiered at Sundance in January ’18. Spent 2016 on the campaign trail with The Circus, Showtime’s election series. Previously, I directed The Opposition, a film for ESPN’s 30-for-30 series about the collision of soccer and politics after Chile’s 1973 coup, and Borderland, a four-part series for Al Jazeera America about the realities of undocumented immigration. As a producer/director on Current TV’s Vanguard investigative series, I embedded with the far-right English Defense League, traveled to the hills of Oaxaca to explore the roots of America’s immigration problem, posed as a soccer agent to understand the illegal trade in young African players, and was thrown out of a tobacco industry conference in Jakarta while documenting Big Tobacco’s aggressive push into the developing world.
In a super-secret initiation ceremony that included hugs, tears and one flak jacket at the Dresden, Cristina was recently welcomed as the newest partner in the Muck Media collective. Before directing Science Fair with Darren, she partnered with Darren & Mariana on “Death by Fentanyl,” a 2017 duPont Award-winning investigation for Fusion about an opiate that’s making the worst drug epidemic in U.S. history even deadlier. Previously, she reported and produced for the New Haven Independent, The Huffington Post, ABC News, Univision and Fusion. Her first TV documentary, which looked at sex trafficking in Mexico, was nominated for two Emmys, and her reporting on immigration has won awards from GLAAD and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. The Milwaukee native is a Yale grad who now lives in LA with her husband, Alfie, and a pug dog named Harriet.