Nicholas Pilarski



MFAEDA | Duke University
Experimental and Documentary Arts| Thesis - Towards Shared Subjectivity: the politics and ethics of representation in collaborative documentary.

College Teaching Certificate | Duke University
Oral Thesis - Moving Beyond Theatre of the Oppressed: dialogue, praxis and education through new media and cinema.

BTA | University of Michigan
Theatre Arts and Global Media Studies


An award winning director selected for Filmmaker Magazine 2016’s fresh faces of cinema. Strong commitment to cinematographic innovation through video game technologies, with a proven track record of producing high level collaborative content. Directing/editing highlights include, New York Times, MoMA, Aspen Shortfest, Palm Springs Shortfest, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Gene Siskel Film Center, Festival Pan African de Cannes, EYE Institute Netherlands.

Director / Work

I, Destini (Director - Executive Producer) New York Times Production - 2016 

Developed through a series of creative workshops with a family's youngest member, I, Destini is an animated film that explores the poignant and imaginative illustration of a youth's perspective on the effects of having an incarcerated loved one. The film was used as a part of broader community activism, part of a movement which forced the resignation of Durham, North Carolina’s police chief, whose police department was notorious for racial profiling.

Official selections as of the film’s February 2016 release: 

CINE Awards (FINALIST Best Short Documentary)

Palm Springs Interational Film Festival (WINNER Student Documentary)

Gene Siskel Film Center

Full Frame Documentary Festival

Aspen Short Film Festival

Festival International du Film PanAfricain de Cannes 

Festival de Cannes (Short Film Corner) 


Doxa Documentary Film Festival

Cleveland International Film Festival

MIDBO Documental de Bogotá

Indie Grits Film Festival (WINNER Filmmakers Fellow Award)

Athens International Film Festival



Password: Destini

National Ecosystem Services (Director) - 2014
A policy documentary made for the Department of Interior in coordination with the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. This film investigated potential benefits of Ecosystem Services as a metric for environmental policy. Interviews included the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, as well as senior officials at the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Federation, and The Nature Conservancy.

Please see stills of project:

Meet The Press (Director) - 2014
An experimental documentary that premiered at Indie Grits Film Festival and currently is on tour with the festival’s yearly road show.

Please see project:
Password: Pilarski

Estamos Aquí (Director) - 2013
A traditional observational documentary profiling migrant farm workers made in collaboration with Head Start. This film was privately screened on Capital Hill for various politicians and senior officials in the Obama Administration.

Please see stills of project:

Of Remnants (Director - Choreographer) - 2013
A short experimental dance film that premiered at the National Film Museum of the Netherlands (EYE), officially selected for the 11th edition of the Cinedans - Dance on Screen- Festival. The film was also presented at MoMA's Inventing Abstract exhibition through Abstract Currents, and was selected for the Short Film Program at WIFF (Windsor International Film Festival).

Please see clip of project:

Blue Man, Blue Man Group; New York & Chicago – 2007-2010
Performed in over 600 stage, public, and television performances with fellow company members. Additional responsibilities included creating new content, reviewing performances, giving basic stage/musical direction to colleagues, and participating in various interviews with media.

In addition to the aforementioned experiences, I have been honored to perform in over a dozen professional and academic shows created for the stage, as well as play percussion with various Grammy nominated artists in coordination with the Blue Man Group.

Teaching / Research

Lewis Hine Documentary Fellow | Duke University | 2015 - Present
I am currently continuing research on collaborative documentary, restorative justice, and concepts of shared subjectivity. Working in collaboration with the Center for Court Innovation, I am starting a restorative art program that works with gang affiliated/incarcerated youth to explore how media making can facilitate community development, dialogue, and personal growth with youth involved in the program.

Instructor of Record | Contemporary Documentary | Duke University | 2015
Designed, taught, and graded an upper level undergraduate course focused on contemporary documentary. Curriculum covered documentary history, theory, ethics, as well as ethnography’s relationship to continental philosophy.

Masterclasses | MIDBO | Documental de Bogotá | 2015
Facilitated a series of masterclasses that explored concepts relating to embodiment and corporeality in documentary.

Teaching Assistant | AMI Capstone - Cinematography | Duke University | 2014
Facilitated lab sections for an upper level cinematography class. In this course, students were tasked to think about how the camera can formally render a given topic of interest through various ethnographic and narrative approaches.

Teaching Assistant | Web Based Multimedia | Duke University | 2013-2014
Facilitated two lab sections for Fundamentals of Web-Based Multimedia Communications. Subjects covered in lab included HTML, CSS, Internet History, Design Fundamentals, and Javascript.

Yours Truly Theatre | Bangalore, India | 2012
Lead a series of Master Classes on movement and improvisational composition techniques with the company’s performers and directors. Gave feedback to actors in preparation for an appearance at the International Fringe Festival in the United Kingdom. Documented Theatre of the Oppressed outreach in slums located in Mahdevapura and East Bangalore.

Center for South Asian Studies Fellow | University of Michigan | 2012
Researched performance methodologies particular to the Theatre of the Oppressed movements in West Bengal and Karnataka. Independently conducted over sixty interviews where I gathered personal narratives and qualitative data related to ethnographic documentation. Recorded and studied over fifty performances in various informal settlements that addressed issues relating to child trafficking and early childhood development.

Guest Lecturer | Chicago College of Performing Arts | 2011
Facilitated a series of master classes over a semester with M.F.A. Candidates that addressed how actors can better employ kinesthetic response, expressive gesture, and rhythm into their work to explore embodied knowledge.

Guest Lecturer | Colombia College Chicago | 2011
As a member of the Blue Man Group, I facilitated various masterclasses that outlined the theatrical techniques used in the company.

CircEsteem, Volunteer Instructor/ Tutor; Chicago | 2009-2011
Worked with at-risk youth from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds to help students build self- esteem and mutual respect through the teaching of Circus Arts.


Computer: HTML, Google Sketch-Up, Adobe Premier Pro, Adobe Photoshop, After Effects, Final Cut Pro X, Soundtrack Pro, Logic, Korsakow, Javascript (Basic), Processing (Basic), ESRI City Engine, MAX/MSP, Blender, Projection Mapping, Unity 3D, Avid

Manual: Cinematography, Photography, Theatre of the Oppressed Facilitation, Stage Direction, Acting, Tabla, Mallet Percussion, Musical Composition, Bengali (Basic, Oral)