Daniel Birman
Dan
Birman
Professor of Professional Practice

Program

Specialized Journalism
Specialized Journalism (The Arts)

Phone

213-821-1131

Office

ANN 205A

Office Hours

By appointment

More Dan

Expertise

Broadcast Journalism
Documentary
Entertainment
Longform Journalism
Practice of Journalism
Science Journalism

Daniel H. Birman is an award-winning documentary producer.

Birman recently completed The Earliest Americans for the digital streaming service, CuriosityStream, as well as The Hunt for Dark Matter and Conscious Capitalism, also for Curiosity. Prior, he produced a series of digital shorts, Sentencing Children, for Independent Lens and The Tennessean, excerpted from an upcoming documentary about the fight to change juvenile sentencing laws in Tennessee.  

He also produced a feature documentary about legendary aviator, Bob Hoover. Perfecting Flight, narrated by Harrison Ford, is about Hoover’s dynamic career spanning WWII to the present. Birman contributed to The Big Bang Machine, a special for Nova on PBS, about one of the greatest scientific discoveries in modern times, the Higgs boson. The tiny particle explains how the universe was formed.  

Dan Birman spent six years producing and directing the world-acclaimed documentary Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story, which aired on PBS’s Independent Lens. This story follows a 16-year-old girl who is serving a life sentence for murder in Tennessee and the deep social issues that contributed to her fate. The documentary was selected by ITVS for its Community Cinema program, where it was screened in 98 cities around the country. The story went viral in 2017, bringing greater attention to the need to change sentencing laws in America.

Other notable projects: Chasing Speed (for Velocity) is about motorcycle racer Leslie Porterfield, who beats the world record as fastest woman on a motorcycle at the legendary Bonneville Salt Flats. Brace for Impact was an exclusive about Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger III’s successful emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River. This was for TLC and Discovery Channel and narrated by Harrison Ford. Death of the Universe, for Nat Geo’s Naked Science series, explores new theories about how the universe will end. Europa: Mystery of the Ice Moon, for Science Channel, explores the possibility life on a moon of Jupiter. Medical Maverick, a limited series for Discovery Health, looks at the work of a world-class trauma surgeon. Alternatives: Uncovered was also a series for Discovery Health. Birman also produced medical television with some of the nation’s leading research physicians during a six-year association with Lifetime Medical Television.

Daniel H. Birman served on the Board of Governors spanning 20 years, representing documentary and nonfiction television for the Television Academy. He was instrumental in building one of the largest peer groups in The Academy, and helped re-define its awards structure for the Emmy Awards. He remains active with The Academy.

In 2001, the University of Southern California invited Birman to join the Annenberg School of Journalism, where he is a professor of professional practice. He developed the nonfiction television/documentary production track and is executive producer for Impact, the school’s student-produced newsmagazine series.

Colloquia and Guest Lectures

Birman is frequently invited to academic institutions around the nation to give guest lectures about his work. He participated in dozens of panel discussions about juvenile justice issues in America for Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story. He produced a panel at the Television Academy called, “What is Nonfiction?”, featuring executives leading the charge in television. He presented his Europa documentary to an international space research organization, and for NASA scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). He presented at a national writer’s conference and led a panel on journalistic malpractice in reporting healthcare. He led panels for Realscreen Summit in Washington, D.C. and Television Academy nonfiction panels for educators and students entering television. He has also been invited to judge documentaries on various industry committees, among which include the International Documentary Association and the Shanghai Television Festival, China’s premiere television awards competition.

Course Titles

JOUR 405: Non-Fiction Television
JOUR 521: Documentary Pre-Production
JOUR 522: Video Documentary Production
IMPACT: USC Annenberg's television newsmagazine show