Meet the 2024 Southern Exposure Film Fellows!

Alabama Rivers Alliance is proud to announce the selection of five talented documentary filmmakers for the 2024 Southern Exposure Film Fellowship, kicking off on June 17. During the innovative six-week summer program, the fellows will create short documentaries that tell impactful stories about Alabama’s unique people and places. The films amplify the vital work of Alabamians dedicated to preserving our rich biodiversity, offering audiences an intimate glimpse into the solutions and actions essential for ensuring a thriving environment for everyone.

This year, Alabama Rivers Alliance will be working with our partners across the state to create four films that will:

  • dive into the loss of seagrass in Mobile Bay, and how experts and organizations are working together to provide solutions
  • celebrate the women of the movement who have answered the call to activism to protect their communities
  • explore the rich diversity of native plants in Alabama while inspiring individuals and community leaders to plant native plants and remove invasive ones from where we live, work, learn and play
  • and further educate audiences about PFAS, the “forever chemicals” that do not break down naturally in our environment, and how communities and utilities are struggling to deal with the EPA’s recent initiatives to address to pervasive industrial contamination.


Meet the 2024 Southern Exposure fellows:


Robert Boyd (he/him) is a filmmaker, editor, narrator, Fulbright National Geographic Fellow, and lover of small and microscopic life.

Robert strives to create compelling narratives through reporting, writing, and filmmaking. While working as a video engineer intern aboard the Exploration Vessel Nautilus, he facilitated and filmed live educational interactions between Ocean Exploration Trust staff and on-shore educational groups. He also controlled and monitored ROV-mounted cameras, recording deep sea fauna found in the Gulf of California.

Previously, Robert worked with the National Park Service, using film to highlight the environmental and historical amenities of Manassas National Battlefield Park, Everglades National Park, and Indiana Dunes National Park. He produced a piece exploring zooplankton research at the Smithsonian Institution. Robert also served as a Post-Graduate Fellow with the Investigative Reporting Workshop and PBS Frontline, where he assisted with creating the Peabody-nominated primetime documentary “The Healthcare Divide”.

For most of 2022, Robert was on assignment in Barbados for a Fulbright National Geographic Fellowship, where he created a documentary about the Barbados Threadsnake, one of the world’s smallest serpents.


Charles Connell (he/him) is a documentary filmmaker hailing from Rochester Hills, Michigan. After earning a BS in Advertising Management from Michigan State University, he enrolled at American University in Washington, D.C., where he is currently working toward a Film & Media Arts MFA with a concentration in Environmental and Wildlife Filmmaking.

A lifelong learner and a well-rounded teammate who loves to create, Charles has developed his skills while producing video projects for the National Park Service, having his work showcased on Maryland Public Television, and teaching others along the way.

Combining his love of the outdoors, fascination with the animal kingdom, a knack for storytelling, and an ever-present positive attitude, Charles looks to create fresh and unique documentary films that can educate, entertain, and bring about impactful change.


Olivia Hall (she/her) is a proud Alabama native and recent graduate from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. At UAB, Olivia discovered a passion for multimodal storytelling as well as a deeper love and appreciation for the South. Her student documentary short, “Up In Smoke,” created with Southern Exposure alum Annie Foreman, was showcased at the 2023 Sidewalk Film Festival. Olivia is particularly passionate about exploring the relationship between individuals and their environment through film, with a focus on the South’s natural beauty and charm.


Hannah Schoettmer and Kaleb Manske are both recent graduates from the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. They are both independently award-winning filmmakers and writers, having screened work in festivals like the Chicago Horror Film Festival, the Milwaukee Film Festival, Pareidolia Video Art Festival, and Panic Fest and they have published writing in venues like The Louisville Review, the Indianapolis Review, and Glass: A Journal of Poetry.

They met in a documentary production course, where they teamed up and co-directed a short documentary about P-22, a famous mountain lion who lived in Los Angeles. Over the course of that project, they realized that they challenged each other creatively in ways that bettered their work. They decided to continue making documentaries together as a team, and are excited to bring their skills to Southern Exposure.


ARA’s partner groups work together throughout the year to develop a list of film topics from which the fellows work to create short documentaries, bringing attention to urgent environmental issues around the state, as well as highlighting the people, places and things that make Alabama special.

Now in its 12th season, the Southern Exposure film fellowship has created 40+ films exploring important topics throughout the state. These poignant stories depict the triumphs of Alabamians, and the challenges we face. The films screen across the state with community groups, legislators and decision-makers, key stakeholders as well as people new to the movement and these issues. They also appear at film festivals all over the country (and beyond!), introducing a wider audience to Alabama, fulfilling the mission to spread awareness, appreciation, and inspire action on behalf of Alabama’s environment.