About the film. Fail State Documentary.
Executive produced by news legend Dan Rather, FAIL STATE investigates the dark side of American higher education, chronicling the decades of policy decisions in Washington, D.C. that have given rise to a powerful and highly-predatory for-profit college industry. With echoes of the subprime mortgage crisis, the film lays bare how for-profit colleges exploit millions of low-income and minority students, leaving them with worthless degrees and drowning in student loan debt. Director Alexander Shebanow traces the rise, fall, and resurgence of the for-profit college industry, revealing its Wall Street Backing and the lawmakers enabling widespread fraud and abuse in American higher education.
Executive produced by news legend Dan Rather, FAIL STATE investigates the dark side of American higher education, chronicling the decades of policy decisions in Washington, D.C. that have given rise to a powerful and highly-predatory for-profit college industry. With echoes of the subprime mortgage crisis, the film lays bare how for-profit colleges exploit millions of low-income and minority students, leaving them with worthless degrees and drowning in student loan debt. Director Alexander Shebanow traces the rise, fall, and resurgence of the for-profit college industry, revealing its Wall Street backing and the lawmakers enabling widespread fraud and abuse in American higher education.
“A truly eye-opening and crucial exposé of yet another way, not unlike during last decade’s subprime mortgage crisis, that vulnerable Americans get hurt just by trying to better their lives.”
— The Los Angeles Times
“An expansive and infuriating account of the rise of profit-driven colleges, their devastating effects on low-income students, and the ways Republicans and Democrats have aided and abetted their treachery.”
— The Guardian
“An excellent, anger-inducing documentary.”
— San Francisco Chronicle
“Puts for-profit colleges under the spotlight and finds shameless exploitation.”
— The Hollywood Reporter
“A well-paced, chock-full documentary.”
— LA Weekly
"An infuriatingly informative documentary."
— 48 Hills
Director, Producer & Writer. Alexander Shebanow is a political documentary filmmaker who started his career making documentaries on non-profit organizations around the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2013, he began working on his directorial debut feature, Fail State, an expansive documentary exposé on predatory for-profit colleges and worsening inequality in American higher education. Fail State premiered in the fall of 2017 to packed houses at Austin Film Festival and DOC NYC, garnering strong press attention and rave reviews. The film is in the midst of its nationwide film festival tour and will be released publicly in 2018. Alexander's other documentary work include short films on music therapy for children with autism and the life-changing power of sports and fitness programs for people with physical disabilities. Alexander attended Foothill Community College before finishing his studies at the University of Southern California.
Producer. Julia Glausi is an independent producer hailing from Portland, Oregon. She completed her bachelor's degree with an emphasis in producing from Brigham Young University where she produced the award winning feature-length documentary, Chronicle of a Country. She currently works in production and development at Endgame Entertainment, a production and finance company notable for feature-films Looper, An Education, Side Effects, I’m Not There. Most recently, Julia assisted in shepherding Charlie McDowell’s The Discovery (Robert Redford, Rooney Mara, Jason Segel) as well as the upcoming Netflix Original docu-series Last Chance U.
Producer. Terrence Crawford is a documentary filmmaker hailing out of the San Francisco Bay Area. Terrence started documentary filmmaking with Alex Shebanow on the short documentary, ASRA: Autism Spectrum Research Alliance. His other documentary work includes pieces on the International Brain Research Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and most recently collaborated with Brick City TV on their show Inside the FBI: NYC for the USA Network. Terrence received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and Television Production at New York University.
Producer & Supervising Editor. Adam Bolt edited and co-wrote the Oscar-winning documentary Inside Job, for which he received the Writer's Guild Award for Best Documentary Screenplay and was nominated for an American Cinema Editors award for Best Edited Documentary in 2011. He won an Emmy in 2014 for his work on the Showtime documentary series Years of Living Dangerously, where he served as editor, writer, and senior producer. His other credits include director Alex Gibney’s Park Avenue: Money, Power & The American Dream, which premiered on PBS's Independent Lens and went on to win a Peabody Award in 2013; Page One: Inside the New York Times, which was nominated for two Emmys (including Best Editing) in 2012; and the HBO documentary The Recruiter, which won a Columbia duPont award for excellence in broadcast journalism in 2010. Adam is also the director of The Edit Center, a renowned film editing school in Brooklyn, NY.
Editor, Writer. Regina Sobel is a Brooklyn-based film editor. She recently completed work as editor and co-producer on a science documentary series funded by The Simons Foundation. She was the associate editor on Alex Ross Perry’s Queen of Earth, which stars Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss and was released by IFC Films last summer. She was also an additional editor on Paula Eiselt's 93Queen, which was selected as part of IFP's Spotlight on Documentaries. Previously, Regina produced and directed graphics for film and TV, including PBS's Park Avenue: Money, Power & the American Dream, Showtime’s Years of Living Dangerously, and HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Co-Producer. Jennifer Latham is a producer of features and documentaries. She started her film career in her home state of Vermont on Nora Jacobson’s feature debut My Mother’s Early Lovers, the beginning of nearly two decades of work in films that go beneath the surface in revealing, honest, and often provocative ways. Her documentary credits include the award-winning Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition, followed by Two Towns of Jasper, the critically acclaimed documentary for which she received a Columbia-Dupont award as Co-Producer. Jennifer line produced Michael Moore’s Academy Award nominated Sicko and Capitalism: A Love Story, and has produced documentaries ranging in topics from international adoption to an enduring musical tradition in Haiti. Most recently, she was the Supervising Producer of the Emmy Award winning, Years of Living Dangerously, a 9-part documentary series on climate change that aired on Showtime in 2014.
Executive Producer. With a famed and storied career that has spanned more than six decades, Dan Rather has been one of the world’s best-known journalists for much of the last half century. He has interviewed every president since Eisenhower and personally covered almost every important dateline of the last 60 years. Rather joined CBS News in 1962. He quickly rose through the ranks, and in 1981 he assumed the position of anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News—a post he held for 24 years. His reporting across the network helped to turn 60 Minutes into an institution, launched 48 Hours as an innovative news magazine program, and shaped countless specials and documentaries. Upon leaving CBS, Rather returned to the in-depth reporting he always loved, creating the Emmy Award winning, Dan Rather Reports on HDNet. Now, building upon that foundation, he is president and CEO of News and Guts, an independent production company he founded that specializes in high-quality non- fiction content across a range of traditional and digital distribution channels.
Producer & Supervising Editor. Alan Oxman is a film editor and producer who has worked on a variety of narrative and documentary films. As a producer Alan's recent credits include A Matter of Taste which screened on HBO and was nominated for an Emmy Award and Page One: Inside the New York Times which was distributed by Magnolia Films and was also nominated for an Emmy Award. He was a producer on Edet Belzberg’s The Recruiter, which won the Peabody Award, as well as on Children Underground which won the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award. Alan recently served as post-production supervisor on Inside Job (Academy Award for Best Documentary, 2011) and producer on Hot Coffee (Sundance 2011, HBO Summer Doc Series). He was the co-producer and supervising editor of the Al-Jazeera documentary Control Room (Grand Jury Prize, Full Frame Film Festival). His editing credits include Welcome to the Dollhouse (Grand Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival), Happiness (International Critic’s Award, Cannes Film Festival) and Storytelling (Cannes Film Festival), all for director Todd Solondz. He was a consulting editor on the Oscar-nominated No End in Sight, which also won the Special Jury Prize at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Alan co-edited Unzipped (Audience Award, Sundance Film Festival), which won the A.C.E. Award for Best Documentary Editing. He won two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Documentary Editing on the PBS series City Life.
Producer. Tyler Comes is a music and film producer from the San Francisco Bay Area. He brings years of music producing and business management experience to Fail State. He most recently worked with James Gardiner and Pajama Studios in producing and recording music for John Lee Hooker Jr. and other local and national artists.
Writer. Nicholas Adams has spent most of his filmmaking career writing and editing short documentaries. Nicholas worked extensively on Brigham Young University’s online media content as well as various episodes of Portuguese and Spanish programming at BYUTV International. Nicholas recently graduated with an MFA in Writing and Producing for Television from Loyola Marymount University.
Story and Policy Consultant. Stephen Burd is a senior policy analyst with the Education Policy program at New America, where he has helped shape the influential think tank’s work on higher education policy and on student financial aid issues. He has received multiple national reporting awards for his investigative work on the student loan industry and for-profit higher education. He has also published articles and op-eds in The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Hechinger Report, Inside Higher Ed, The Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, and Washington Monthly, and provided expert commentary for media outlets including America Public Media’s Marketplace, the CBS Evening News, CNN, C-SPAN, and National Public Radio. Before coming to New America in 2007, Burd worked for 15 years as a reporter and senior writer at The Chronicle of Higher Education, where he primarily reported on student aid policy and the inner-workings of the U.S. Department of Education. Burd holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Swarthmore College.
Animation and Graphics. With over a decade of experience in visual communication, BigStar blends design, animation, and live action in order to create compelling narratives and deliver branded content across the film, broadcast, digital, and advertising industries. Their clients include HBO, Showtime, ESPN, ABC, and Sony Pictures.
Associate Editor, Researcher. Isabel Ponte is a documentary editor and archival researcher based in Brooklyn. She’s worked on a range of projects, from a film about fossil theft to a movie about activist nuns. At Jigsaw Productions, she worked in development and served as an assistant editor.