We founded MUCK MEDIA because the four of us love working together. We specialize in hard-hitting 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 and several Emmy noms. We’ve produced projects for Netflix, VICE, ESPN, Nat Geo, Discovery, Fusion, ABC, etc.
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…
Here’s my (ever-changing) list of the five films I wish I’d made:
Sherman’s March, The Times of Harvey Milk, Hoop Dreams, Burden of Dreams, Spellbound
If you agree, disagree, or would like to work with me on making something list-worthy, hit me up at jkplunkett at gmail dot com