(((PLACEHOLDER))) Coming from Nova Scotia, I imagined I would graduate college and immediately gain employment as a young buck director at a bustling movie studio where everyone Involved spent every hour figuring out how to make the greatest movies ever made, all the soul-bearing artists and harebrained magicians and master craftspeople safe to explore and create together on the same campus. Doesn’t that sound like the right idea? That dream, which perhaps you share, quickly became a disappointing history lesson in the collapse of the old studio system.

So, I started Breakwater Studios to protect and chase that dream. I started Breakwater because I wanted to work for a company that didn’t exist. And now, in some form, it does. We will always pursue that original dream — a lasting pursuit of which you are now an integral part. The choices we’ve made on the following pages are our best efforts to represent our company visually. I hope you will treat our brand with the same integrity with which it was designed and for which it stands.



Before Breakwater

Inspired by George Lucas, Canadian teenage magician turned aspiring filmmaker Ben Proudfoot and a group of friends produce DINNER WITH FRED. An ambitious directorial debut, the film bears many of the hallmarks that would define Breakwater Studios films, including an original orchestral score and bold, electrifying cinematography.



The First of Many Shorts

While attending the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, Ben directs his first short documentary: INK&PAPER. The film goes viral and earns a Vimeo Staff Pick, marking the beginning of his journey into cinematic and humanist short form documentaries, as well as sparking an interest in short films which can be distributed online for free, with no barrier between filmmaker and audience.



Breakwater Studios

About to graduate from USC, Ben hopes to gain employment at a bustling movie studio where all the artists, technicians, and master craftspeople work their magic together on the same campus. Finding that such a place did not exist and that the strongest elements of the old studio system were forgotten, Ben founds Breakwater Studios in a small rented room in Walt Disney's original office building, creating a place for all creative departments to coexist under one roof.



We Begin Filming Our First Feature

Following the conventional wisdom of Hollywood, we set out to make our first feature documentary, RWANDA & JULIET. The film takes place twenty years after the Rwandan Genocide, and follows professor Andrew Garrod to Kigali, Rwanda, where he stages a production of Romeo and Juliet featuring college students who are children of the perpetrators and victims from both Hutu and Tutsi backgrounds.


The Breakwater Original

Breakwater Studios releases THE OX, a portrait of master woodworker Eric Hollenbeck, who embodies the same sense of craftsmanship that Breakwater wishes to apply to each aspect of filmmaking. The film earns Breakwater its second Vimeo Staff Pick and sparks an interest in making portraits of craftspeople.


Taking Root

Over the course of 2014, Breakwater Studios expands its catalogue of films that emphasize the emotional heart of each story, from behind-the-scenes documentaries to videos promoting small businesses. All of the work done here provides the foundation for the years to come.



Life's Work

Following the success of THE OX, the Canadian federal and provincial government funds LIFE’S WORK: a series of short documentaries following six master craftspeople, exploring their craft. Five of the six films earn Vimeo Staff Picks.

I realized if I didn't stick at something, that I never stood a chance at achieving anything.

Steven Kennard, TURNS


Building Breakwater

Still chasing the dream of all departments working together under one roof, the one-room headquarters of Breakwater Studios is expanded: a theater for screenings and sound mixing, a composer’s room, and an editing bay are added to that Los Feliz office. The studio is one step closer to reviving the studio model of Old Hollywood, when all departments worked their magic on the same campus.



Brand New World

Struggling to fund our single campus studio system in the image of Hollywood pioneers like MGM and Lucasfilm, we explore an exciting new avenue of nonfiction filmmaking: the branded doc. We team up with the Vimeo Brand Studio on our first brand-commissioned film, WHY THIS ROAD: DAN PORTELANCE. The four minute short doc is produced for Charles Schwab, who has since become a strong partner and a pioneer of the branded documentary. This experiment in filmmaking-- a promising new partnership forged between brands and artists--allows us to grow our company into the studio of our dreams.


We Release Our First Feature

After three years, RWANDA & JULIET premieres at Sheffield DocFest and plays at festivals nationwide, winning Best Documentary at the Phoenix Film Festival. The arduous lift of producing a feature film reinforces our commitment to the short form.



Venture-Backed Breakwater

In October of 2017, Gigi Pritzker’s production company Madison Wells invests in Breakwater and became co-owners, making Breakwater Studios one of the first venture-backed branded film studios and opening new doors to make films the Breakwater way. Madison Wells shares many of Breakwater’s goals and believes in the long-term success of a short documentary studio at the intersection of the brand-funded entertainment and journalism worlds.


Original Vision

We add brand new Alexa Mini cameras and Angenieux lenses to our toolkit, and voyage out to snowy Nova Scotia to produce our most ambitious original to date: KUNSTGLASER, a portrait of stained glass craftsman Norbert Sattler. The film demonstrates the success of our young studio’s creative campus system, where cinematography, editing, color grade, and a bold original score are shaped together with each department affecting and benefitting the other.

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

We continue to build the company of our dreams, one that is wholly dedicated to the short documentary. We expand our campus in Los Angeles, California into the building across the street. Today, that new space houses an additional editing bay, a library, a color suite, our development & marketing offices, and more to come!



Form and Function - Redefining the Short Doc

Using a combination of rescanned and remastered archival documentary footage and new cinematic recreations with one of Canada’s leading character actors, we make GEORGE, a genre-pushing, form-bending, hybrid documentary that tells the story of one soldier’s experience and memory as a Canadian soldier in the First World War. The film premieres on the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI on 11:11 on 11/11/2018.



Our First Major Film Festival

We fly the whole Breakwater team to New York to premiere our latest short documentary, THAT’S MY JAZZ, at the Tribeca Film Festival, our largest festival to date and a significant leap in distributing Breakwater films. The documentary, which tells the story of a world-renowned pastry chef as he reflects on his relationship with his deceased father Milton Abel Sr., a famed Kansas City jazz musician, would go on to win a James Beard Award and People’s Choice Webby for Best Editing.



Breakwater Studios x The New York Times

THE KING OF FISH AND CHIPS is a portrait of Haddon Salt, the founder of a once-sprawling fish-and-chips empire that flourished into an eight-figure deal with Colonel Sanders and ended in collapse. On its festival run, the film catches the attention of New York Times Senior Opinion Editor Lindsay Crouse, who teams up with Breakwater to give us our biggest platform to date: a release as a New York Times Op-Doc, vastly expanding the reach of our original stories.

Breakwater x The New York Times

We all just want to feel seen, heard and cared about — proof that while we were here, we mattered.



We Launch Almost Famous

Spurred by the success of THE KING OF FISH AND CHIPS, The New York Times commissions three more films. In the spirit of Haddon Salt, we set out on a mission to find those who, if history had gone slightly differently, would be household names. We launch ALMOST FAMOUS with three additional Op-Docs: KIM I AM, THE LOST ASTRONAUT, and THE OTHER FAB FOUR. This series brought a higher viewership to Breakwater Studios than ever before and is now heading into its third season, accruing over 10 million views.

Breakwater Grows to 10 Full-Time Employees

A breakwater is a seawall, built as a protectorate against the forceful waves of the open ocean. For us, that means our company was built to protect our team of full-time staff and freelancers, our philosophy, and most precious of all, the integrity of the stories we tell.


Forbes 30 Under 30

Ben Proudfoot is named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 List for achievements in media and our studio is recognized for building an economy around the short documentary. Founded on a new system where brands can partner and collaborate with artists on short documentary films, our mission is clear: short documentaries are a medium entirely their own, we can create a market for them and prove that a short documentary film studio is a viable, profitable, and successful business.



Filmmaking and COVID-19

As the global pandemic takes its toll, we convene an emergency summit to see how we could keep our company in business, and whether there was a safe way to shoot the second season of ALMOST FAMOUS. We develop S.I.P., or Self-Isolating Protocol. Under this system, a single crew member set up the entire interview frame, built a Covid-safe plastic barrier between the storyteller and the filmmaker, all while masked up and practicing social distancing. We film over a dozen short documentaries this way, and never had to downsize our company.


CAUSE OF LIFE, an Emmy-nominated series, premieres on the NYT

In the first two years of the pandemic, we lost a million people with two things in common: They were Americans, and the coronavirus ended their lives. The loss of a million lives meant the loss of billions of stories, and as a studio, we knew there was something we could do to honor those we lost. For these short documentaries, we ask five people to tell the story of individuals they lost to the pandemic — not to dwell on their deaths but to celebrate how they lived. Together they form a portrait of America.


A Concerto is a Conversation

Did you ever picture yourself doing what you’re doing now?



Our First Oscar® Nomination

After premiering at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, our latest documentary short, A CONCERTO IS A CONVERSATION, is nominated at the 93rd Academy Awards® for Best Short Subject - Documentary. We mobilize our first Oscars® campaign and join the subjects of our documentary, the Bowers family, on the red carpet.


ALMOST FAMOUS Season 2 Premieres

The wildly popular series distributed through the New York Times returns with four electrifying new stories, from the runner-up to play a young Anakin Skywalker to the woman who changed astronomy forever, only to watch her mentor win the Nobel Prize for it.


THE QUEEN OF BASKETBALL Premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival

In July, we release a new episode of ALMOST FAMOUS about Lusia “Lucy” Harris, who scored the first basket in women’s Olympic history and was the first and only woman officially drafted into the N.B.A. Despite her incredible accomplishments, Harris was largely unknown — until now. The film screens at the Palm Springs Shortfest where it receives the award for Best Documentary, qualifying for the 94th Academy Awards®. Shaquille O’Neal and Stephen Curry board the film as executive producers for a wider release.


Go For Launch: THE BEAUTY PRESIDENT and LA Times Short Docs

Inspired by our work with The New York Times and hungry to evangelize the short documentary form wherever we can, we partner with the LA Times to launch LA Times Short Docs — a new distribution platform for short-documentaries. The platform debuts with THE BEAUTY PRESIDENT, a Breakwater original directed by Whitney Skauge and executive produced by Lena Waithe. The film premieres at SXSW and plays at over 40 festivals.


IF YOU HAVE premieres with Sofia Carson, Orlando Bloom, Lucy Liu

We release one of our most ambitious films to date, IF YOU HAVE, a forty-minute documentary made with UNICEF USA profiling their mission to deliver Covid vaccines around the world. Our tiny but mighty team travels across three continents to tell the story of an organization that brings the world’s attention to the cause of children. The film is a much-needed story of optimism and inspiration, and is executive produced by Sofia Carson, Orlando Bloom, Lucy Liu.


We win an Academy Award®!


An Oscar® for Lucy

THE QUEEN OF BASKETBALL wins the Academy Award® for Best Documentary Short Subject at the 94th Academy Awards®, earning Lucy Harris her rightful place in history as a game-changing figure in American athletics. After accepting the award, Ben asks President Biden to bring Britney Griner home.

If there is anyone out there that still doubts whether there is an audience for female athletes, that still questions whether those stories are valuable, or entertaining, or important, let this Academy Award® be the answer.


Breakwater Grows to 19 Full-Time Employees


We partner with Naomi Osaka

As we grow our studio, we remain fervent in our mission to inspire the millions of people who watch our films, and to advocate on behalf of the storytellers in them. To mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX, we partner with Naomi Osaka and her new media company, Hana Kuma, on MINK!, which profiles the unlikely rise and tremendous legacy of Patsy Mink, the first Congresswoman of color and the godmother of Title IX.


Ben Proudfoot is invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences


We are featured on Jeopardy!

The unsung Queen of Basketball makes a surprise appearance in on Jeopardy! What is "Not a Feature" for $600?


We Host a Screening at the Capitol

Breakwater Studios and Hana Kuma host a screening of the film on Capitol Hill, with Nancy Pelosi, Naomi, and key members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus delivering remarks. The event brings renewed attention to the urgency of Title IX, and introduces a new generation to the indomitable spirit of its most vocal advocate.