Zak Piper

Zak is an Emmy and PGA award-winning documentary filmmaker who has made films for over 15 years.

Currently, Zak is producing several feature films: City So Real (working title) with producer/director Steve James; Untitled Chicago Project (working title), for Concordia Studio, with co-directors Bing Liu and Joshua Altman; and The Ants and the Grasshopper (working title), a film he is also co-directing/producing with Raj Patel and producer Rachel Wexler.

Previously, Zak produced the critically acclaimed film Life Itself, which premiered at Sundance and went on to be an official selection of the 67th Cannes Film Festival. The film was nominated for a Gotham Award for Best Documentary and 5 Cinema Eye Honors. The National Board of Review and Broadcast Film Critics Association awarded Life Itself their Best Documentary Awards, while Entertainment Weekly listed the film in its top 5 films of the year. Life Itself was released theatrically by Magnolia Pictures and broadcast on CNN.

Zak also co-produced the critically acclaimed film The Interrupters which premiered at Sundance and went on to screen at film festivals worldwide, collecting two Best Documentary Awards, two Audience Awards, two Special Jury Awards. In 2011, The Interrupters was released theatrically in the US, Canada, and the UK, culminating in television broadcasts on PBS Frontline, BBC Storyville, Canal Plus, and the CBC. The film received a Spirit Award for Best Documentary and was honored by the Cinema Eye Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Non-Fiction Filmmaking. The New Yorker, Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly, and LA Times all hailed The Interrupters as one of the year’s best films.

Zak also produced the multiple-award-winning Saving Mes Aynak, which premiered at IDFA and has been broadcast in over 70 countries; co-produced At the Death House Door, which premiered at the 2008 SXSW Film Festival, then later was short-listed in the Best Documentary category by the Academy Awards; and was the associate producer of Prisoner of Her Past, Kartemquin’s co-production with The Chicago Tribune.

Zak has worked as a location sound recordist on more than a dozen Kartemquin films. He began his career on staff at Kartemquin, where he stayed for more than a decade, serving as Director of Production until 2012. He is currently an adjunct faculty member at Columbia College Chicago.

Films by Zak Piper

A Compassionate Spy 2022
Sound Engineer
The Ants & The Grasshopper 2021
Co-Director / Producer
City So Real 2020
Produced by, Sound Recordist
America to Me 2018
Location Sound Recordists
'63 Boycott 2017
Associate Producers
In the Game 2015
Hard Earned 2015
Additional Sound
Life Itself 2014
Producers, Location Sound, Additional Sound
Saving Mes Aynak 2014
The Homestretch 2014
American Arab 2013
Director of Production at Kartemquin
The Interrupters 2011
Co-Producer & Sound Recordist, Additional camera
A Good Man 2011
Additional Sound, Production Support for Kartemquin Films
Prisoner of Her Past 2010
Associate Producer
Sacred Transformations 2010
Sound Mix
Typeface 2009
At the Death House Door 2008
Co-Producers, Sound Recording
In the Family 2008
Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita 2007
Sound, Post Production Assistant, Kartemquin Staff
The New Americans 2003
Post Production Manager