Daniel Kraus: The Work Series

  • Professor

    A college education has become part of the American dream. But what are we learning and who is teaching us?

    For nearly four decades, Rabbi Jay Holstein has been one of the University of Iowa's most popular professors. With a foul mouth, a raunchy sense of humor, and a piercing brilliance, Holstein uses massive 500-student lectures to turn inside-out the most fundamental assumptions on topics as divergent as sex, suicide, and the Holocaust. His courses, including "Quest for Human Destiny," have become the stuff of campus legend, and between firing a Glock and running 10 miles per day, the 69-year-old Holstein spends his office hours wrestling with students over animal experimentation, alcohol use, and homosexuality.

    73-minute feature, plus an additional half hour in 5 bonus features.

  • Preacher

    Bishop William Nowell is certain of one thing: “You got to think ridiculous when it comes to Christ!”

    For over 30 years, the self-taught preacher has presided over a small, working class, predominantly African American congregation in Virginia. A wayward adolescence led Nowell to the Lord, and his ecstatic faith is evident in every sermon, as the diminutive 72-year-old struts, shouts, and sings his electrifying message. But Nowell’s role in the community is deeper than that of religious leader. The New Covenant Pentecostal Church provides financial advice, emotional support, food for the needy, and rollicking, blues-infused gospel music—never more powerful than when performed inside the confines of the local jail.

    69 minute feature.

  • Sheriff

    “HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. The detail captured by Kraus’s scrupulously neutral camera adds up to a fascinating, fully realized portrait of the man and the job. It’s like an extended episode of COPS directed by Frederick Wiseman — and I mean that as a compliment on both counts.”

    “It’s a little COPS, a little Walking Tall, and a little The Andy Griffith Show.”

    Sheriff Ronald E. Hewett oversees the rural Southern community of Brunswick County, North Carolina. Heading up what used to be a backwards, back-woods department, Hewett strives to maintain order and civility in a region fraught with murder, robbery, and the occasional theft of ceramic lawn ornaments.

    76-minute feature, plus 9 bonus features of approximately 43 minutes.

  • The Work Series: All Four Films

    The WORK series is a cycle of independent films that seek to create an ongoing document of the American worker. Taking inspiration from Studs Terkel and Frederick Wiseman, the WORK films are entertaining and empowering, spectacular and mundane, amusing and redemptive. Includes Sheriff, Musician, Professor, Preacher, plus many many bonus videos.

    4 feature length films, 20+ bonus features, approximately 400 minutes total.

  • Musician

    “NYT CRITICS' PICK: Musician feels radically fresh... shot and edited with the same inquisitive spirit that defined Studs Terkel's oral history Working. Those seeking a nutshell definition of what it means to be a committed artist need look no further.”

    "A masterpiece... Among the most significant efforts of the year - or any year this decade, for that matter.”

    Common sense says you can't make a living in America playing avant-garde improvisational jazz. But Ken Vandermark does it anyway.

    “RECOMMENDED. Paints a vibrant but decidely unglamorous portrait. The end result is a strange duality between work and play: Vandermark loves what he does, but because resources for the improvising musician are so limited, he can never rest.”

    58-minute feature, plus 8 bonus scenes and performances, running approximately 56 more minutes.

Daniel Kraus biography

DANIEL KRAUS is a Chicago-based writer, editor, and filmmaker. His debut novel, The Monster Variations, was selected to New York Public Library’s “100 Best Stuff for Teens.” Fangoria called his Bram Stoker-finalist, Odyssey Award-winning second novel, Rotters, “a new horror classic.” Upcoming novels include the Junior Library Guild selection Scowler (2013) and Trollhunters (2014), co-written with Oscar-winning filmmaker Guillermo del Toro. Kraus has written regularly for such magazines as Cosmopolitan, Playboy, Maxim, and Salon.com. He is the director of six feature films, including Sheriff (2006 season premiere of PBS’s Emmy-winning “Independent Lens”) and Musician (2007 New York Times Critics’ Pick).