Founded in 2009 by Emmy-award winning director, producer and cinematographer Mary Olive Smith, Flying Pup Productions produces a wide range of visually powerful, character-driven documentaries that move and motivate the world — from feature-length films to branded shorts for a variety of organizations. Taking the viewer on an intimate journey across the globe, we tackle stories ranging from the fight for safe motherhood in remote parts of the globe to the building of a great American art museum in New York City, and from championing the journeys of children with developmental disabilities to shining a spotlight on solutions to the global climate crisis.
Clients and projects include “24 Hours of Reality" (Shoulder Hill Events for the Climate Reality Project), the Neglected Tropical Diseases Forum (The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and GSK), Global Health Frontiers (Cielo Productions), the Whitney Museum of American Art, NOVA (PBS) and The OpEd Project’s Public Voices Fellowship.
With a unique ability to capture the human spirit in her storytelling and to develop trust and empathy with her subjects, Mary Olive works as a director, producer and cinematographer and has filmed in nearly 30 countries. She founded Flying Pup Productions (FPP) after 13 years producing prime-time programs at Engel Entertainment for major. This Fall she returns for another season of “24 Hours of Reality,” produced by Shoulder Hill Events on behalf of The Climate Reality Project (founded by Al Gore), where in 2016 she acted as series producer for short documentaries that highlight solutions to the climate crisis.
At Flying Pup Productions, she executive produces productions for a variety of notable organizations. Earlier in 2016 FPP produced the Whitney Museum of Art’s “Building the New Whitney” for their annual gala video as well as a tribute film to art collector Leonard Lauder. Other projects include videos for GlaxoSmithKline and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation on the fight against neglected tropical diseases and highlight videos for The OpEd Project’s Public Voices Fellowship at universities across the country. Mary Olive was also a cinematographer for the television series “Global Health Frontiers,” which won first place in the 2017 National Headliner Awards for best journalism in the category of science/health reporting for television.
Mary Olive’s feature-length directorial debut, “A Walk to Beautiful,” won the 2008 Emmy for News and Documentary for broadcast nationwide on NOVA (PBS) and the International Documentary Association’s Best Feature Doc Award. “AWTB” follows the journeys of women in Ethiopia with devastating child birth injuries call obstetric fistula. It was released theatrically in NYC, San Francisco and L.A. She was also the Field Producer and Cinematographer on “Child Brides” (Now on PBS)—winner of the Overseas Press Club Edward R. Murrow Award.
With FPP she was co-director and Director of Photography on the feature-length documentary “Fixing the Future” with host David Brancaccio (2012), a journey across America exploring how Main Street is bringing back jobs. Mary Olive continues to work with on her independent film, CHEER, about girls who are changing attitudes toward people with developmental disabilities.
Mary Olive has appeared on NPR's "The World," "The Brian Lehrer Show" and the national TV program "Dialogue." She has been invited to speak at a number of venues such as Princeton University, the Council on Foreign Relations, and a global conference on women's health called Women Deliver. She has served as a juror for the International Emmy Awards.
Mary Olive earned a BA from Davidson College, a Masters from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and was the recipient of a National Security Education Program Fellowship for documentary filming in Senegal. When she is not directing or shooting docs, she moonlights with the roots country/blues band Stillhouse Serenade (vocals and guitar). She and her husband Danny Weiss have a 8-year-old son named Grant, who’s laughter and innate ability to live life to the fullest causes us to rethink the word “ability.”