Johnny Symons, Producer
Johnny Symons is a documentary film- and videomaker based in Berkeley, California. His ITVS-funded film Daddy & Papa (2002), an exploration of the personal, cultural, and political impact of gay men raising kids, premiered at Sundance, won more than 15 major festival awards, aired nationally on Independent Lens, and received a national Emmy nomination for Best Documentary. Beyond Conception (2006), his feature documentary about the relationship between a lesbian surrogate and a gay male couple as they conceive and bear a child, premiered at the Florida Film Festival and aired on Discovery Health Channel. Symons is the co-producer of the Academy Award-nominated Long Night’s Journey Into Day (2000), a feature documentary about South Africa’s search for truth and reconciliation, and winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival.
Symons has been creating films about gay culture since 1991, including Beauty Before Age (1997), an exploration of the fear of growing older in the gay male community, which received an NEMN Gold Apple and an IDA nomination; Shaving the Castro (1995), a portrait of a 70-year-old Castro Street barber shop that aired nationally on public television; and Out in Africa (1994), an exploration of black African gay life, which was named Best Documentary at the Turin Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. Symons’s other credits include It’s STILL Elementary (2008), Lost Boys of Sudan (2003, PBS), Bubbeh Lee and Me (1996, HBO), and The Celluloid Closet (1995, HBO). He has freelanced as a segment producer for the PBS gay and lesbian cultural affairs show, In the Life, since 1998.
Symons graduated with honors from Brown University and has a master’s degree in documentary production from Stanford University. He currently teaches documentary film at both Stanford and the Art Institute of California-San Francisco. He is the father of two sons, Zachary and Kenyon.