Carl Colby began his career in the art business in Washington and New York working with art and architecture dealer Max Protetch. While attending Georgetown University, he was President of the University Film Society where he hosted tributes to Milos Forman, Larry McMurtry, Liv Ullman and Billy Friedkin under the banner
of the Master Filmmakers Series. He graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy.
Upon graduation, he produced and directed a film on Washington artist Gene Davis, and Fat Tuesday, a musical documentary on the New Orleans Mardi Gras, a favorite of the midnight festival circuit and winner of Best Film at the USA Film Festival in Dallas, Texas.
He moved to New York and directed a TV series of musical performance films for Unitel/Beta/Taurus Film of Munich and PBS’s Great Performances on the legendary Kid Thomas Valentine and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Clifton Chenier and His Red-Hot Louisiana Band, and Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown, on location in New Orleans, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and surrounding Cajun Country.
He produced a TV version of “One Mo’ Time!”, the Obie Award winning New Orleans musical which he brought to NYC and which ran both on and off-Broadway for more than 3 years, including a year on London’s West End at the Majestic Theatre. He served as cinematographer for a musical film on Bob Marley at the legendary “Smile Jamaica” Concert, in Kingston, Jamaica, for Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records.
He wrote, produced and directed Jack-A-Boy, an adaptation of a short story by Willa Cather, set in New Orleans, starring Jean Marsh and Fred Gwynne, with music by Jelly Roll Morton and Scott Joplin, broadcast on PBS, CBS Cable and Disney Channel.
He was a director-for-hire, directing commercials, corporate communications films, and television specials sponsored by clients such as AT&T, E.F. Hutton, Ralph Lauren/Polo, EDS, ARCO, United Technologies, Lockheed Martin, Sony, and Ford Motor Company, including Museum narrated by Michael York, Thundering Hooves narrated by John Cullum, and Visiones Del Pueblo, narrated by Ruben Blades.
Growing up as the son of former CIA Director William E. Colby, he lived abroad for most of his youth. His many documentary productions have taken him all over the world, on assignment in more than 30 countries, from 300 miles above the Arctic Circle in Norway, to Italy, Jamaica, Singapore, Japan, France, England, Sweden, Spain, Germany, Russia, Switzerland, Mexico, Ireland, and many others.
His productions have featured appearances by some of the world's most noted personalities, including Katharine Hepburn, Willem de Kooning, John Glenn, Gianni Agnelli, H. Ross Perot, David Rockefeller, Leslie Wexner, Ralph Lauren, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Dustin Hoffman, Bob Woodward, Frank Gehry, Sigourney Weaver, Robert Mapplethorpe, Mel Gibson, Bob Marley, Franco Zeffirelli, Donald Rumsfeld, Queen Silvia of Sweden, John McCain, Seymour Hersh, Venus and Serena Williams.
His credits include Franz Kline Remembered, documentary profile of the Abstract Expressionist painter, sponsored by ARCO for PBS’s series “Strokes of Genius”; Liberty: The Legacy of Magna Carta, a period dramatization of the historic events at Runnymede in 1215, for H. Ross Perot and EDS; and Zeffirelli's Tosca for WNET Great Performances and Texaco; it was the winner of an Emmy Award.
Other assignments were on location in the Atlantic Ocean and Norfolk, VA aboard the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy; on location in Norway on “Avalanche Express” winter exercises with the US Marine Corps and Norwegian Army; in Bitburg Air Force Base, Germany with the USAF’s 36th tactical Fighter Wing; and on air-assault Blackhawk helicopter maneuvers with the 101st Airborne Division in Kentucky and Tennessee.
Upon locating to Los Angeles, he continued producing and directing numerous documentary profiles including Legends in Light, a celebration of famous Hollywood glamour photographer, George Hurrell. The film is a look-back to the Golden Age of Hollywood and features appearances by legends Katharine Hepburn, Loretta Young, and Raquel Welch and stars Sharon Stone, Sean Young and Sherilynn Fenn. The film was sponsored by Canon for Turner/TNT and for DVD/home video markets.
He pursued his interest in space exploration, producing and directing the award-winning film Voyager: The Grand Tour celebrating the Voyager missions. Sponsored by Lockheed Martin with digital animation by JPL/NASA, the film was translated into four languages with over 125,000 VHS videocassettes in distribution. This film won First Prize at the 3rd International Animation Festival, in Hiroshima, Japan, where John Lasseter of Pixar and “Toy Story” fame (and now Head of Disney Animation) was the chief judge.
The Astronomer's Dream is a high-definition (HDTV) profile of astronomer Johannes Kepler, starring Lotharie Bluteau. It was the first all-digital HDTV video project produced by Sony Corporation’s Visual Communication Center and features digital CGI computer animation produced in association with JPL/NASA. The world premiere was held at the Electronic Cinema Festival in Montreux, Switzerland.
He wrote, produced and directed two promotional films for D.A.R.E /America, narrated by Mel Gibson, with a recent updated version narrated by actor Ving Rhames, both sponsored by Warner Bros., as a pro bono effort to help kids resist drugs and gang-related violence. Over 30,000 DVDs and videos were distributed in this media campaign.
He produced multiple TV public-service announcements for D.A.R.E., starring tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams playing with “Daren”, the animated D.A.R.E. lion mascot, which were broadcast more than 20,000 times around the U.S.
Extending his relationship with Sony, he produced and directed a series of four short HDTV (high-definition) films for Sony’s Visual Communication Center under the direction of Nobuyuki Idei, Chairman and CEO of Sony Corporation, to introduce the rollout of the new media’s product line and showcase the resolution quality of HDTV.
These HDTV films were produced in collaboration with JPL/NASA and feature the most accurate and sophisticated animation of these extraterrestrial landscapes and terrains ever produced. The result was the transition of mastering media from analog to digital HD through all interplanetary Mission Planning at JPL and NASA TV network.
The digital HDTV films include Venus Unveiled narrated by Sigourney Weaver; Jupiter The Giant, narrated by Powers Boothe; Destination Mars, narrated by Granville Van Dusen. These short HDTV films were screened continuously in Sony’s first HDTV Sony Wonder theatres in New York, Tokyo, San Francisco, Berlin, and other worldwide
Sony HDTV venues, and are also available as Sony HD digital videos.
He also served as the Vice President of Production for Dreamtime Holdings, Inc., (Dreamtime) NASA’s former exclusive multimedia partner, with responsibilities for the development and production of all TV specials and series and alternative programming. He also served as the Head of Production of Dreamtime Studios, based in Los Angeles.
He directed Ground Zero, a documentary on designs for the World Trade Center site. The film was exhibited at the 2002 Venice Biennale in Italy and profiles many of the world’s celebrated architects, including Jean Nouvel, Steven Holl and Daniel Libeskind.
He produced and directed Mister Gehry Goes to Washington, a film profile of legendary architect Frank Gehry and his radical designs for Disney Hall in Los Angeles and for the proposed New Wing of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
He developed Out of the Shadows for CBS Entertainment with Roger Birnbaum of Spyglass Entertainment. It is a series of gripping documentary profiles of the unsung heroes of U.S. intelligence including legendary CIA, FBI, DEA, ATF and LAPD agents.
He directed A Dialogue of Generosity, a documentary profile of the Shakespeare Theatre and new Harman Center for the Arts in Washington, with Hal Holbrook, Dixie Carter, Christopher Plummer, Harry Hamlin, Sydney Harman, NEA Chair Dana Gioia.
He organized La Serenissima, a conference on Venice and its relevance to the survival of the US and modern nation states. Sponsored by Ambassador C. Boyden Gray, William A. Nitze, the Embassy of Italy and Giorgio Cini Foundation in Venice.
He directed a film about The White House Fellows Program, America’s most prestigious program dedicated to leadership and public service, with President George Bush, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Tommy Thompson, Robert Mueller, Tom Ridge, Bob Woodward, Wesley Clark, Robert Rubin, John McCain and David Rockefeller.
He created Innocents at Risk, an anti-child trafficking advocacy video with the Departments of Justice and State, with testimonials from young victims and survivors, Queen Silvia of Sweden, Congressman Chris Smith, singer Ricky Martin, and others.
For Meridian International Center, he designed a public affairs series, The Need To Know: Intelligence for the 21st Century with John McLaughlin, former Deputy Director of CIA; Robert Grenier, former Director, CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center; Rep. Tim Roemer, member, 9/11 Commission; and Walter Pincus and David Ignatius of the Washington Post.
He organized Spirit Into Shape for Meridian, an exhibit of contemporary Italian sculpture and symposium on the Figurative Tradition in Italian Art with the Embassy of Italy, with Bruce Cole, Chairman of The National Endowment for the Humanities, and Renato Miracco, Curator and Cultural Attache, Embassy of Italy in the United States.
He organized a symposium for Meridian on Le Marquis de Lafayette and the Spirit of Revolution with the Embassy of France. Celebrating the 250th anniversary of Lafayette’s birth, the symposium examined the exceptional relationship of France and America. Sponsors included AREVA, Sodexho, American Airlines, and Gerry Lenfest.
He organized an exhibition and symposium for Meridian on Shigeru Ban: Paper Houses and the Architecture of Disaster Relief with the Embassy of Japan and National Building Museum. This exhibition and symposium celebrated Shigeru Ban, one of the world’s most innovative architects, and highlighted the usage of zero-waste materials in constructing temporary shelters for victims of natural disasters worldwide.
He organized an exhibition and a symposium for Meridian on Jam Session: the jazz tours of the Soviet Union, Poland, Africa, India, Pakistan, Egypt and other nations by jazz greats Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Clark Terry, Thelonius Monk, Quincy Jones and others. The event featured a musical performance by legend Dave Brubeck.
He directed Invisible: Abbott Thayer and the Art of Camouflage, one-hour profile of Abbott Thayer, artist, environmentalist and inventor of camouflage. Narrated by Jane Alexander, with an interview with P.J. O’Rourke, and voice readings of Twain, Emerson, and Thoreau, this film was a presentation of New Hampshire PTV for National PBS.
He organized Venice: Behind the Mask, a conference on Venice as a “commercial republic” and lessons the US and major nation-states can learn from its glorious decline. Organized with the Embassy of Italy and the National Gallery of Art in Washington.
Carl organized “Les Seminars: Revolutionary Ideas”, a series of lectures featuring prominent speakers comparing the challenges of the era of the American Revolution with challenges of today in education, medicine and the health sciences. The lecture series was sponsored by the American Revolution Center and College of Physicians in Philadelphia.
He served since 2011 as Executive Director of the annual Global Energy Forum at the Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek, Colorado, organized by the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University and Vail Valley Foundation. VGEF has featured former Secretary of State George Shultz, Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, General Michael Hayden, USAF, Jim Brown, President, Western Hemisphere, Halliburton, and numerous U.S. government officials, scientists, journalists, energy industry executives, investors, and entrepreneurs.
Carl has organized other energy conferences and events for numerous institutions such as the North America Energy Forum 2017, held recently in Washington DC at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Hosted by the Canada Institute and the Mexico Institute, the event included such luminaries as Daniel Yergin, author of “The Prize” and “The Quest”; Ira Ehrenpreis of the Board of Directors of Tesla; Cesar Emiliano Hernandez Ochoa, Deputy Secretary for Electricity, Mexican Ministry of Energy; Jim Ellis, President and CEO of Alberta Energy Regulator; and many other senior energy executives.
Carl also organized “A Conversation with Mary Beard” which was staged at the Embassy of Italy in Washington DC in the Winter of 2018. Mary Beard is the best-selling author of “SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome” and “Women & Power: A Manifesto.” This event was organized to benefit the outreach efforts of the American University of Rome.
He produced and directed The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father, CIA Spymaster William Colby, his feature-length documentary film on the life of William Colby, former CIA Director and Carl’s father. It tells the story of a ‘CIA family’ and the evolution of the CIA from OSS in WWII to today. The film received excellent reviews in The New York Times, including a “Critics Pick”; The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The Atlantic Monthly and many other news publications. It opened in the Fall of 2011 at the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas in New York and played in more than 60 cities across the U.S. for more than eight months. The film aired on the Documentary Channel and is available for streaming on Google Play, Amazon Prime and for DVD and Blu-Ray sales from Barnes & Noble and from the film’s distributor First Run Features in New York.
Carl wrote, produced and directed The Tip of the Spear: From Virginia Hall to Gina Haspel, a film tribute to current CIA Director Gina Haspel and the women of OSS. This film features exclusive interviews with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former high-ranking CIA Officers Jack Devine, John Bennett, Greg Vogle and Jose Rodriguez. This film was commissioned by The OSS Society and is available for streaming on its website.
Carl wrote, produced and directed “Overlord: OSS and the Battle for France” a short film for The OSS Society on the Jedburghs and other irregular allied forces who fought with the French Resistance before and after D-Day to liberate France in World War II.
Carl also wrote, produced and directed “Call Sign Chaos: Gen. Jim Mattis and the U.S. Marine Corps,” a short film tribute for The OSS Society to Gen. Mattis, with appearances by Gen. David Petraeus, USA (Ret.), Gen. Joseph Dunford, USMC, 19th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Dr. Michael Vickers, former Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence.
Carl Colby Films