School of Cinematic Arts Directory Profile

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Theodore Braun, M.F.A.

Professor of Cinematic Arts
Joseph Campbell Endowed Chair in Cinematic Ethics

Affiliated Divisions:

John Wells Division of Writing for Screen & Television

Work Phone: 213.740.3309
Office: SCA 335

Writer-director Ted Braun works in non-fiction across documentary and scripted forms with a focus on global conflict. His critically acclaimed first feature film, Darfur Now won the NAACP Image Award for best documentary of 2007 and was named one of 2007’s top five documentaries by the National Board of Review.and the Broadcast Critics Association.  The film was produced by the Academy Award™ winning producer of Crash, Cathy Schulman, Academy Award™ nominee Don Cheadle, and three-time Academy Award™ winning documentarian Mark Jonathan Harris. Warner Brothers distributed Darfur Now worldwide and financed along with Participant Media, which spearheaded a global social action campaign.

For his work writing and directing the film, the International Documentary Association awarded Braun their 2007 Emerging Filmmaker of the Year.  In addition, the Winter 2008 issue of Movie Maker Magazine named him, along with Errol Morris, Oliver Stone, and Robert Redford one of 25 filmmakers whose work has changed the world.

His feature documentary, Betting On Zero, was nominated for a Writer’s Guild of America Award for best documentary screenplay of 2017. The film chronicles the campaign of controversial hedge fund titan Bill Ackman and Latina activist Julie Contreras to expose Herbalife as a massive international pyramid scheme and was the subject of extensive international press coverage - in the NY Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, El Pais, - and was featured on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight. Betting On Zero premiered in the World Doc Competition at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016, where it won a special jury mention for investigative work. 

Braun’s latest feature film, ¡Viva Maestro!, pits conductor Gustavo Dudamel’s extraordinary music making against social unrest and violence in his Venezuelan homeland. An emotional affirmation of the resilience of art in a time of political crisis, ¡Viva Maestro! was distributed by Greenwich Entertainment and debuted theatrically in April 2022 to widespread critical acclaim. The film premiered on Max in December 2022. It's is second feature documentary with Participant and was produced by Steve Tisch, Academy Award™ winning producer of Forest Gump, Dean Schramm, Nicolas Paine and Howard BragmanFor his work writing ¡Viva Maestro!, Braun was nominated for a Writer’s Guild of America Award for best documentary screenplay of 2022.

Prior to Darfur Now, Braun wrote and directed award winning short form fictional films and documentaries for HBO, PBS, A&E and The Discovery Channel on topics ranging from test pilots of aviation’s golden age to the battle for the rights of the developmentally disabled.

Braun taught screenwriting at Amherst College (the first to do so) before joining the faculty at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts where he teaches screenwriting and is the Joseph Campbell Endowed Chair in Cinematic Ethics. He’s a recipient of the University’s Phi Kappa Phi faculty recognition award.  He regularly lectures, conducts seminars, and serves as a consultant internationally and in the US. His students have won or been nominated for some of the most prestigious cinema and television prizes: Academy Awards, the Palme d’Or, Emmys, Sundance Festival Awards, and European Media Prizes.   In their April 2018 Report on the Best Film Schools, Variety Magazine named him one of world’s ten Top Teachers in Film and TV.