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Alumni Spotlight: Film Producer Teddy Kunhardt

April 28, 2017

"Becoming Warren Buffett" posterBusiness, art and documentary enthusiasts of the Skidmore College and Saratoga Springs community came together last Monday evening for the screening of Kunhardt Films and HBO’s Becoming Warren Buffett. The film, produced by Skidmore alumnus Teddy Kunhardt, puts an unconventional twist on your average success story. By taking a look into the personal life and humanity of one of the world’s richest men, Warren Buffett, the documentary exposes a side of celebrity life often unseen and unexpected by the general public.

Prior to the screening, several Skidmore faculty and Saratoga community members attended a dinner with Teddy Kundhardt. Among the attendees were Skidmore’s very own ian Berry and Deb Hall, Kunhardt’s professor during his undergraduate studies in art. Enjoying this reunion with a former student, Hall shared a book of Teddy’s college ceramic work, which encompassed elaborate and large-scale tea pots that he says still remain in his garden today.

After graduating from Skidmore, Kunhardt pursued a degree in the culinary arts and worked under a renowned chef. This experience taught him that cooking was more enjoyable as a passion than a career, so after a year Teddy knocked on his father's door at Kunhardt Films and said he was ready to join the family business. 

In addition to the film, one conversation topic included Kunhardt’s appreciation for two new programs, MDOCS and Skidmore’s Media and Film Studies Program. Media classes were limited during his time at Skidmore. Further discussion revolved around Kunhardt Films’ upcoming productions about Martin Luther King Jr. and Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post, two more famous individuals with unexplored pasts. After a warm introduction from MDOCS Director Jordana Dym, the evening was turned over to story and screen.

"Becoming Warren Buffett" screening
Audience members gathered in
The Tang for the screening

The screening of Becoming Warren Buffett brought a full house to the Tang Teaching Museum’s Somers Room this March 6. A sight worth seeing, some eager viewers pulled chairs and stools from other areas to fill up the back and aisles of the screening room. In its description of the film, HBO wrote “With unprecedented access to his day-to-day personal life, Becoming Warren Buffett tells the improbable story of how an ambitious, numbers-obsessed boy from Nebraska became one of the richest, most-respected men in the world." However, Buffett’s story from rags to riches takes a back seat in the film. Through interviews as well as archival and family footage, the dual impact of Buffett’s passion for investing and his eccentric personality on his loved ones prevails as the film’s true focus. The documentary film succeeds in its intent to evoke emotion and interest in the viewer, a goal later shared by Teddy Kunhardt in the post-screening Q&A session.

Teddy Kunhardt Q&A
Jordana Dym and Teddy Kunhardt
during the Q&A

After the viewing of Becoming Warren Buffett, Jordana Dym and audience members were invited to ask Producer Teddy Kunhardt questions. Several of the evening’s questions were in regards to Teddy’s career and interest in documentary or relating to the true nature and filming of Warren Buffett. In response, Kunhardt revealed his love for sharing personal narratives and truths via documentary and subject films in which filmmakers and viewers “get inside and live with someone.” He also disclosed that “what you see is what you get” with Warren Buffett, affirming the billionaire’s humble yet closed-off attitude and daily McDonalds breakfast expenses witnessed during unscripted filmmaking and 2–3 hour interviews with the 86-year-old. Although he would happily work on a feature film, Teddy Kunhardt’s work in Becoming Warren Buffett unearths the importance of documentary film as well as its implications on truth and our understanding of the world.

—Mary Brimmer ‘19