Short docs

A smattering of my recent work

The Battle for Chinese Millennial Minds

Are millennials in China becoming too westernized?

A cultural and political shift appears to be occurring among young people—all under the watch of the Chinese Communist Party. A recent study found that more than 90 percent of Chinese university students say they’ve been influenced by Western culture. The Chinese government has been responding to these changes, reigning in Chinese media that falls too far outside the traditional narrative, and even engineering their own Marxist video programs aimed at youth.

But what does this battle for Chinese millennial minds mean for the future of the country?

I visited underground rap battles in Beijing, hung out with skateboarders in Shanghai and attended hip hop classes in Central China to find out.

Why We're Finally Raging Against Plastic

Did you know that the average American family of four uses 1,500 plastic bags per year? That’s roughly one per family member per day—even including your toddler.

Well, did you also know that 15% of the “sand” on Hawaii’s beaches are actually just microplastics.

At home or in nature, we are drowning in plastic. But why? How did we get to this point? And with plastic bag and straw bans now springing up around the globe, what has led to a sudden burgeoning global backlash against the material?

I followed the journey of plastic scrap and our growing dissatisfaction with it from the US to Asia in this tale of “why we’re finally raging against plastic.”

Text below from NBC.

Plastic bag and straw bans arrived in full force in 2018 across the planet, from North America to Europe to Africa. Internet searches for “plastic waste” skyrocketed last year and consumer protests erupted in countries throughout the world. But why did this plastic revolt seem to flare up so suddenly in 2018? And will these bans and chatter actually have a lasting effect in the coming years?

Matt Danzico travels to unofficial plastic scrap yards in China, the streets of Thailand, and then back home to recycling centers in New Jersey to better understand how a tornado of plastic disgust is beginning to spin our chatter.

How the Thai Cave Rescue Kept Us Hooked

A reported 60,000 individuals from around the world participated in 2018’s Thailand cave rescue, which saw twelve Thai boys and their soccer coach freed by divers and Thai Navy SEALs from a complex network of water-filled crevices and tunnels. From Kenya, to Japan, to the US, hundreds of millions of us tuned into rolling coverage of the rescue, in spite of it happening at a time of turmoil around the world, with many competing news events.

But why?

I journeyed to rural Thailand to explore the psychology of why this particular event managed to capture the world’s attention so thoroughly.

Amsterdam's Hidden Community of Refugee Squatters

The culture of squatting empty and abandoned buildings in the Netherlands has existed for more than a half century. But what happens when a wave of refugees enter the country, a group in desperate need of shelter? This was NBC Left Field’s first short film. With the help of two others, I crafted it as a template for what I wanted the unit’s short documentaries moving forward.

It speaks to the quick cuts of the internet as well as the cinematic sequences beginning to squirm their way into journalistic filmmaking at that time.

This short was set up in two days, shot in three and edited in four. Left Field continued on with quick-turnaround cinematic shorts for the year that followed this story’s release.

The Headhunters of Nagaland

The former headhunters of northeast India once wore their tattoos with pride, as each mark reflected a head taken from a warring tribe.

But artists and tattoo researchers in the state of Nagaland say the ancient tradition is vanishing as young people move further away from the brutal practice.

I followed Mo Naga, a popular Nagaland tattoo artist and researcher, to the Indian village of Phelungre in far Nagaland to meet an 85-year-old former headhunter.

Worshipping nature with Russia’s Altai

The Altai people—who live in the Altai Republic in southern Siberia—are one of the hundreds of ethnic groups in Russia.

They have been part of the region for 300 years and have an extraordinarily unique relationship with nature.

I went to visit an Altai woman, Baba Tasya, to talk about what it’s like carrying on tribal traditions on one of the planet’s most desolate and raw stretches of earth.

Uber vs Indian Rickshaw

What is mightier, the Indian tuk tuk or the taxi?

I raced Delhi-based BBC producer Vikas Pandey across Delhi to a local candy shop to find out whether a car with GPS could outpace a tuk tuk operated by a driver with local knowledge of city streets. Along the way, the team picked up commuters and interviewed them about the changing state of mass transport in the developing country.