Directory Profile

« Back to Directory

Mitchell Block

Adjunct Associate Professor

Work Phone: (310) 636-8200
Office: SCA 366

Mitchell Block has been teaching independent producing since 1978 at USC.

Mitchell Block is currently in production on a documentary feature called Saving Eden from the Sixth Extinction which he is producing, USC Cinema alumni and Oscar winner Bill Couturie directed. It is being produced in 4K and will be completed in the 4th quarter of 2016.

His most recent film The Testimony was produced with Steven Tisch and director Vanessa Block.  The Testimony is about the tragedy created by rape in the Congo, it was short listed for a documentary short Academy Award in January 2016.  

Mitchell Block's produced the film Vessel, directed by Diana Whitten, it won the Jury and Audience Awards at South by Southwest, at Hot Docs, the Audience Award and at the Sheffield Film Festival it received the First Peter Wintonick Award. 

He is producing, “Face of the Nation” about America’s changing global image with Mina Chow at USC’s School of Architecture and “Stories of the Vietnamese Diaspora” with Isabelle Thuy Pelaud, Ph.D. at San Francisco State University. “Women” received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2014, “Face” has received numerous grants including a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. 

Mitchell Block is also Vice President of Content for “Raw Science” a new network that looks at “Advances That Will Change Your World.”  As head of programming he shapes the network’s production of short films to series as well as acquisitions of completed films. The network launched in the fall of 2013 and will do a full relaunch in September 2016.

Block conceived, co-created and produced the 2011 Academy Award-nominated documentary film Poster Girl with director Sara Nesson. The film premiered at the prestigious Telluride and IDFA film festivals. Poster Girl also received two National Emmy nominations - 2012 Best Long Form Information Program & Best Documentary Editing.  He is currently working on documentary and fiction projects as a producer for his company, Direct Cinema Limited, in partnership with various companies worldwide.

Block conceived, co-created and was an executive producer of the Emmy Award-winning 10-hour documentary series Carrier and was a producer of its companion feature, Another Day in Paradise, both financed and distributed by Icon Productions. They premiered on PBS in May 2008. The series aired worldwide on the National Geographic Channels.

For seven years, Block worked as an acquisitions consultant for HBO Original Pictures (documentaries). In 2002, he was an executive producer of the Academy Award-winning documentary Big Mama for HBO.

Block was an executive producer of Stealing America: Vote by Vote, a feature documentary about the 2004 and 2006 elections, which opened in New York and Los Angeles in August 2008. The film received a Broadcast Critics Award.

His company, Direct Cinema Limited, has handled the marketing and distribution of over 60 Oscar nominated and winning documentaries, shorts and animated films.

Block's student film, No Lies, which he produced and directed was selected for the National Register of Historical Films in 2009 for preservation for all time by the Library of Congress and joins seven other films from 1973, including American Graffiti, Badlands, Mean Streets, The Exorcist and The Sting. In 2016, film critics in Indiewire selected it as “One of the ten best short films ever made.”

Block has a B.F.A. and M.F.A. from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and an M.B.A. from Columbia. He was also a producing fellow at the American Film Institute (AFI). He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He is also a life member of the University Film & Video Association and the International Documentary Association. Block serves on the Academy Film Scholars Program which he co-created, the Student Film Awards and on its Grants Committee. He is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Shorts and Animation Film Branch. Block also serves on the Academy documentary feature and short film nomination committee. He was a founding member of BAFTA-LA.  Block mentors students from Columbia University and other colleges.

Block is a regular contributor to Indiewire where he writes about film and television business.

He was a special consultant to the American Documentary Showcase, a program of the U.S. State Department for both documentary and animated films. This program, launched in 2008, highlights selected films to international audiences and continues to conduct public screenings, master classes and workshops. In addition, the filmmakers work with their foreign counterparts on outreach programs on film production and new media and look for new areas for collaboration with local filmmakers. Block was the only filmmaker with two films in the program. He has been a visiting lecturer at numerous colleges and universities worldwide. He does workshops for the International Documentary Association on fundraising and producing.  He is currently consulting and training Chinese television network executives for the China Television Council.

He has lectured and consulted globally on documentary and independent film production, marketing, distribution and programming and frequently works as an expert witness.

Indiewire Blog: