founder and president, NakedEdge Films
For me, a film is like any other startup. Everything from the business to the legal to the deal-making came from my Tuck experience or my work experience after Tuck.
Like many others, Jim Butterworth’s life changed drastically on September 11, 2001. Butterworth, a T’91, was living a few blocks from the World Trade Center. He was about to turn 40 years old and he’d spent years working high-profile jobs in finance, technology, and venture capital. But after losing friends in the terrorist attacks, he decided to overhaul his life. He packed his bags and moved to Colorado, where he got a job as a ski patroller at Vail Mountain for $9 an hour.
But first, let’s rewind. Butterworth got his start studying engineering at Georgia Tech, then worked in the computer industry in Atlanta for five years before enrolling at Tuck. At Tuck, he got a summer associate position at Lehman Brothers and was offered a job there after graduating in 1991.
In 1995, Butterworth had an idea for a streaming audio service over the web, a concept that didn’t exist at the time. He called it Netcast, a network of around- the-clock audio stations that was 20 years before its time. “Everyone was telling me that live streaming wasn’t doable over the internet,” he says. “But I knew enough about technology to think it might be.”
He ran the company for three years in New York, then launched a $40 million early-stage venture capital firm called LC39. “We wanted to do it differently,” Butterworth says. “We wanted to provide an incubation platform. This was 1999. Nobody was doing that.”
But then, the dot com bubble burst and 9/11 happened. Butterworth found a new lease on life in the mountains of Colorado, but he knew he needed to be doing more than just skiing.
In the summer of 2003, Butterworth discovered that nobody was talking about the human rights conditions in North Korea, the two million people who had died from famine and hundreds of thousands of refugees escaping across the river into China. So Butterworth and his girlfriend at the time looked at each other and said, “Let’s make a documentary film.”
They bought a few books on how to make a documentary, acquired some cameras, then flew to China and snuck into North Korea. The resulting film, called Seoul Train, which took over a year to make and debuted in 2004, won a duPont-Columbia Award for excellence in broadcast journalism and played in over 20 countries on national TV. In 2007, Butterworth received Dartmouth’s esteemed Social Justice Award as a result of the film.
By 2008, he had moved to Boulder, Colorado, and co-founded a production company called Naked Edge Films, which has since produced over 20 documentaries, including three in 2018. His films have earned an Oscar, two duPonts, and four Emmy nominations. “Our focus is on making really good, character-driven films in the context of really important issues,” he says.
Their 2016 documentary, Southwest of Salem, about four gay Latina women in San Antonio in the 1990s who were wrongly convicted of child molestation, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and won a Peabody Award. The film ultimately helped exonerate all four women. Butterworth was the film’s executive producer. His latest documentary, called United Skates about the decline of American roller-skate culture, will debut on HBO in 2019.
“I had a nontraditional path that took me through investment banking, technology, and venture capital. I had a foundation in business though,” Butterworth says. “For me, a film is like any other startup. Everything from the business to the legal to the deal-making came from my Tuck experience or my work experience after Tuck.”
Peter Lengyel T’64 always knew he wanted to work in the movie business, but it took him nearly 35 years of working in finance to get there.Read More
As a consumer and retail reporter for CNBC, Lauren Hirsch T'12 covers transformative corporate events of the country’s biggest retailers and consumer packaged goods companies.Read More
When Jeffrey Hirsch T’99 was hired by Starz in 2015, his task was essentially to fix things—and the fix is working.Read More
Carey Albertine T'05 is changing media for the better, starting with books made for children and young adults.Read More
By taking extra time to research and develop ideas and lean on fellow writers as a sounding board, Greg Thompson T'92 figured out a way to write on his own.Read More
Christine Amirian T'96 likes to be challenged and try new things, so in 2016, she took another leap and accepted a job at The Walt Disney Company.Read More
Nykia Wright T'09, an Atlanta native and newcomer to the news business, comes to the job with a background in consulting, the instincts of a problem-solver, and a work ethic honed from childhood.Read More
At the 2018 Super Bowl, Russell Wolff T’94 was sitting between his wife, a fellow Tuck alum, and a VIP client. Wolff, the executive vice president and general manager of ESPN+, takes a lot of clients to sporting events. It’s part of his job description.Read More
What if learning how to play golf could mean the difference between advancing your business career and not? That’s the thinking that Leslie Andrews T’90 has built her business on.Read More
Soccer has long been a part of the life of Peter Grieve T’84. He played soccer growing up and at the U.S. Naval Academy. After graduating in 1977, he spent five years in the U.S. Marine Corps as an infantry officer. Then, he had a decision to make: law school or business school?Read More
Kurt Zwald T’12 is walking through an empty Fenway Park on a Tuesday evening. It’s not always this quiet at his workplace. “When we have 38,000 fans in the ballpark—that energy from the fans is really what invigorates me every day to come to work.” Zwald says.Read More
Fay Gosiengfiao T’11, VP of finance for the NBA, never set out to work in sports. It was never part of her master plan.Read More
Ask Kevin Demoff D'99, T'06 what he loves most about his job, and he’ll tell you that it’s that feeling he gets standing on the sidelines of an NFL game, watching 75,000 fans cheer at once.Read More
Growing up in North Carolina, Catie Griggs D’03, T’09 was a goalkeeper for her soccer team. She loved the sport but she never imagined that one day, she’d have a career on the business side of professional soccer.Read More
Marketing a Disruptive Brand
Twitch is a live streaming platform with a growing global brand and two Tuck alumni, Kate Jhaveri T’03 and Michael Aragon T’01, are leading marketing and innovation.Read More
Alex Smith T’99 has always been a major sports fan. So when a fellow alumnus called about a job at ESPN, he jumped at the opportunity.Read More
Gibson “Gib” Biddle
NerdWallet's Gib Biddle T'91 came to Tuck as a marketer, but then realized he was more of a builder.Read More
For Tom Christie T’85, the COO of Showtime, show business has been the proving ground for an unforgettable lesson from Tuck.Read More
David Chemerow D'73, T'75 uses big data to watch what you’re watching.Read More
Disruption doesn’t scare Roger Lynch T’95. Since leaving Tuck, he has headed three industry-changing companies and continues to innovate at the intersection of media, technology, and developing new markets.Read More
As general manager, North America soccer for Nike, Andrea Perez T’08 is sharing the transformative power of athletics with anyone who has ever wanted the opportunity to play. Just like she did.Read More
On Influencing Company Culture
In his six seasons as executive vice president and chief human resources officer for the National Football League, Robert Gulliver T’97 has helped manage the NFL through some major cultural shifts.Read More
After a successful career in everything from finance to manufacturing, Gene Hornsby T'73 is now the vice president of the Firebirds, a Cape Cod Baseball League team.Read More
Eduardo Pokorny T'01 Pokorny is the newly appointed chief financial officer for the Spanish-speaking businesses of ESPN Latin America.Read More