In addition to being a WSTM/WSTV news reporter, Alex Dunbar is owner, director and producer of Wind Up Films, an independent production company.
The company’s last documentary, Blanchard Road: A Murder in the Finger Lakes, centers on the murder case of Sabina Kulakowski and the man sent to prison for her death, Roy Brown.
I spoke with Dunbar about how the documentary functioned as an important piece of independent media as the case unfolded and ultimately revealed that Brown was innocent.
Ashley May: Initially, why did you decide to work on a documentary about Roy Brown’s case?
Alex Dunbar: Whether Roy was guilty or innocent…we thought the initial trial raised enough questions that it was worth pursuing and looking at both sides.
[The prosecutors] had a forensic dentist saying that Roy’s bite mark matched the bite mark pattern on Sabina Kulakowski’s wounds… The defense put an expert who said… not only does this not match, but Roy Brown is missing two of the teeth that he would need to even have a bite mark pattern close to this.
AM: How did you finance the documentary?
AD: We had offers of people who were willing to invest, but we were fortunate enough that we didn’t have to take on any investors or financial assistance. We were able to do it on our own, financially, which I thought really benefitted the story in the end.
AM: You said earlier that you wanted to keep the documentary objective. How did you do that?
AD: Neither side thought that they had our exclusive attention. They were both aware that we were actively talking to and showing the perspective of the other side.
AM: How did you think the story benefited from an independent documentary instead of a form of mainstream media?
AD: TV stories are generally limited to maybe two to four minutes at the most. Newspapers have a limitation … we could really spell out the whole story.
AM: You work in mainstream media as well as independent media. What is the role of independent media?
AD: Independent journalism can compliment mainstream journalism. It’s also a good checks and balances to have independent journalism out there to keep mainstream journalism in check so that things don’t get out of control.
*Photos courtesy of Alex Dunbar
Last summer, I worked as a broadcast reporting intern at WSTM/WSTV.