A documentary filmmaker, Kramer wandered into his role behind the camera. After working in print journalism on the West Coast, the Washington, D.C.–area native returned home to figure out next steps and met a documentary film producer at a local bookstore. A former film minor who says he “completely overlooked” documentary classes at Dartmouth, Kramer was hooked. “I never made the connection that my love of film and journalism would converge,” he says.
Kramer and his brother and fellow filmmaker, Brandon, formed Meridian Hill Pictures (named for the park across from their D.C. office) in 2010. The siblings found their first project next door, at local nonprofit Washington Parks & People, which created a jobs-training program to help the unemployed find work and care for parks in their neighborhoods. Kramer was amazed by the trainees’ candor in front of the camera. “We found ourselves in extremely vulnerable moments in peoples’ lives—you could feel the intense struggles and stakes they were up against,” he says.
The resulting City of Trees (2015) was a film festival success and aired on PBS and Netflix. Kramer has also produced or directed a range of other films focused on complex social issues, including Hard Earned, an Al Jazeera America documentary series focused on the challenges faced by the working class. City of Trees also connected Kramer to political analyst Van Jones to work on the 2016 documentary miniseries The Messy Truth, seen by millions online and on CNN. He’ll next tackle projects focused on education and social justice.