Mary Olive Smith
With a unique ability to capture the human spirit in her storytelling and to develop trust and empathy with her subjects, Mary Olive is an Emmy-award winning director, producer and cinematographer who has filmed in nearly 30 countries. She founded Flying Pup Productions (FPP) after 13 years producing prime-time programs at Engel Entertainment for major broadcasters such as Discovery and National Geographic. In Winter of 2019 she’s producing and shooting on a 2-hour special for the noted PBS science series, NOVA.
Mary Olive’s feature-length directorial debut, “A Walk to Beautiful,” won the 2008 Emmy for News and Documentary for broadcast nationwide on NOVA (PBS) and the International Documentary Association’s Best Feature Doc Award. “AWTB” follows the journeys of women in Ethiopia with devastating child birth injuries call obstetric fistula. It was released theatrically in NYC, San Francisco and L.A. She was also the Field Producer and Cinematographer on “Child Brides” (Now on PBS)—winner of the Overseas Press Club Edward R. Murrow Award. Mary Olive was also a cinematographer for the television series “Global Health Frontiers,” which won first place in the 2017 National Headliner Awards for best journalism in the category of science/health reporting for television.
Recently Mary Olive was the supervising producer for the short documentaries that aired and streamed worldwide on “24 Hours of Reality,” produced by Shoulder Hill Events on behalf of The Climate Reality Project (founded by former Vice President Al Gore). This year her short piece from from "24-Hours" on a solar powered maternal health clinic in Nigeria aired as part of a National Geographic Wild special.
At Flying Pup Productions, she has executive produced and directed short docs for a variety of notable organizations including Fountain House, which supports people with major mental illness (NYC); gala videos for the Whitney Museum of Art, short docs on combatting neglected tropical diseases for GSK and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and highlight reels from The OpEd Project’s Public Voices Fellowship at elite universities across the country.
Mary Olive was the Director of Photographer and co-director on the feature-length documentary “Fixing the Future” with host David Brancaccio (2012), which had a cinematic release at 60 theaters nationwide and continues to work on her independent feature-length film, CHEER, about girls who are changing attitudes toward people with developmental disabilities.
Mary Olive earned a BA from Davidson College and a Masters from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. When she is not directing or shooting docs, she moonlights with the roots country/blues band Stillhouse Serenade (vocals and guitar). She and her husband Danny Weiss have a 10-year-old son named Grant who says he has the best life ever because he has a powered wheelchair and an elevator.