Produced By February | March 2021

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Executive Producer and Director Keith McQuirter started making documentaries to explore his curiosity about the world. He formed New York-based Decoder Media in 2008. McQuirter’s latest documentary, By Whatever Means Necessary: The Times of Godfather of Harlem, was inspired by his parents’ music: rhythm and blues, soul and Motown from the 1960s. The music docuseries was released on EPIX in November. “These were Black artists who spoke their power through the music my parents listened to,” he reflects. The series

reveals the drama and truths of Harlem’s music scene during the conflicted 1960s and connects that history to our present moment. “It’s a privilege to tell stories about that. Very humbling and sacred at the same time.” One celebrity he especially enjoyed interviewing was the legendary Herbie Hancock. The series was filmed in seven months during COVID, which McQuirter notes made it very difficult to film candid, real-life interviews and situations. He uses crews of 40 to 55 people. Ninety percent of staff worked remotely from places like New York, Michigan and California. “Working remotely requires a person to pull their weight even more than working in an office,” he says. “Worker responsibility during COVID must increase.”

While one of McQuirter’s projects has been released, another was paused due to COVID. A criminal justice documentary in co-production with ITVS was going to be filmed in Wisconsin. But McQuirter still plans to expand since demand is surging for new content. He will hire field producers, researchers (events and legal cases) and archival producers (finding old videos and news reports) for projects in development. An employer needs to know which workers do well with others around and which people prefer to work alone. “I try to empower people to work at their best,” he notes. “Vaccines are giving us some hope, and I believe COVID will lift,” McQuirter predicts. “That will let us make projects we want to make.”

Keith McQuirter, founder of Decoder Media, on the set of By Whatever Means Necessary: The Times of Godfather of Harlem in West Hollywood