Journey Into Ukraine – Making an Impact

For the past 8 months, I’ve been editing and producing the film UKR by Alex LeMay. I’ve known Alex for over 20 years, and we’ve collaborated on a myriad of projects for several companies. But this is the first time we’ve worked together on something this impactful and important.

With our first private screening coming soon, we’re almost at the point of starting the sales process. So this week, I’m giving some insight into why I’ve signed onto this film.


My father’s side of the family is from Latvia. They fled the country in the aftermath of WWII to escape the Russian invasion. When the Ukrainian invasion first started in February 2022, I still had the letter my grandmother wrote during her English learning class. She described their normal life being torn apart when suddenly Russian tanks showed up at the border. They fled to Germany and then to America.

Alex himself has a connection to that timeframe. His own grandmother escaped the Russian invasion of Ukraine and fled to America. So his journey into the country is almost the reverse of his own family’s.

So with this film, we are both reliving our own history. With himself standing on the soil of the ongoing conflict.


Part of the challenge of films (and documentaries in general) like this is creating a cohesive narrative with all of the stories. The mistake many filmmakers make is simply collecting lots of interviews about a particular subject and forgetting the journey we want the audience to take. So it ends up being more akin to an educational film and less of a documentary.

Every documentary needs to take the viewer on a journey. Alex spent months in Ukraine over a series of trips, each one meeting interesting people with incredible stories. Not to mention, being a stone’s throw away from real danger. Eventually, he met one person whom we follow throughout the film, all while showing some of the process of making a film in a war-stricken country. Just like the Hero’s Journey (or any storytelling framework), we need to have characters who go through conflict and change.

This is the basis for any film, including a documentary.


Let’s keep it real for a second. Ukraine, for most Americans, is old news. Because we’re so separated from the consequences, we have the luxury of moving on to whatever becomes headline news. Right now, the atrocities in Gaza are (rightfully) the focus of everyone’s attention. But there is still a massive loss of life happening in the country of Ukraine, which includes civilian areas, not just those on the front lines.

But there’s a larger importance of why this story is important. Part of the narrative that Putin used to invade the country was this:

Ukraine doesn’t really exist. It’s just Russia.

Beyond the importance of not letting one country simply invade another to expand its territory, if Ukraine is conquered, it means any country can simply declare that another people don’t matter. That they have no culture, no identity,

No right to exist and have self-determination.

We’re already seeing this in other conflicts across the world. And we can also see it happening in our own politics domestically, which is why many scholars are afraid of civil war.

This story is not just about what’s happening in a faraway conflict but how it can happen, and is happening, everywhere. It’s about people discovering who they are and who they want to be in dire circumstances. A story that everyone, in one manner or another, can truly relate to.

And as a man of color. I’m very familiar with the pattern of simply declaring a group of people aren’t people. And then seeking to oppress and kill them.


As we close in on the finish of the edit, Alex and I are looking at the next steps. We want to do all of the usual processes (festival run, sale to a large distributor). But we are thinking about how we want it to truly live in the world.

To echo the filmmaker of the Oscar-winning film about Ukraine, we wish this film never had to exist. If we never made this film, that means so much death and destruction did not happen. But now that it has, we have a duty to create an impact.

Impact means not just getting as wide an audience as possible (which is important) but also how we can use this to raise further awareness, funds, and get policymakers to keep supporting the country’s right to exist. It’s a power that a film can truly have and the responsibility that we bear.

I’ll be writing more about the process of making this film and how it moves in the public. We’ll have a teaser coming shortly along with a website for the movie.

This is probably one of the most important films that I’ve made in my career to date. And we’re going to do everything we can to support not just the struggle of Ukraine but the struggles of all oppressed peoples around the globe.


Book a meeting here!