T. J. Martin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
TJ Martin
Born Thomas McKay Martin Jr.
Residence Los Angeles, California
Alma mater Western Washington University
Occupation Film Director, Television Director, Film Editor, Commercial Director

T. J. Martin (born Thomas McKay Martin Jr., September 7, 1979) is an American filmmaker. His film, Undefeated (2011), for which he was co-director, co-editor, and co-cinematographer, won the 2012 Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. Martin is, notably, the first film director of African-American descent to win an Oscar for a feature-length film.[1]

Early life[edit]

Martin was born on September 7, 1979 in Seattle Washington to Tommy Martin and Tina Bell, guitarist and singer, respectively, of the late punk/early grunge Seattle band Bam Bam.

Martin graduated from Roosevelt High School and went on to attend Fairhaven College at Western Washington University, where he studied American Cultural Studies, graduating in 2005. While there Martin co-directed his first film, the feature documentary A Day in the Hype of America (2002), concerning the hysteria around the Y2K problem, which won Best Documentary at the 2002 Rhode Island International Film Festival.[2]


Feature films[edit]

In 2007 in Los Angeles, Martin met future directing partner Daniel Lindsay, when they collaborated on the feature documentary Last Cup: Road to the World Series of Beer Pong, directed by Lindsay and edited by Martin. The film was distributed by Morgan Spurlock's company Warrior Poets.

As co-directors, Martin and Lindsay next made the feature documentary Undefeated, which chronicles the football team of Manassas High School in Memphis, Tennessee. The film focuses on the lives of several of the players and their coach, Bill Courtney, over the course of a single season.

Undefeated premiered at the 2011 SXSW Film Festival and was purchased by The Weinstein Company for North American distribution just hours after the first screening.[3] Released to near universal acclaim, the film went on to win the Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary in 2012. The film holds a 96% rating on the review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.[4]

In November, 2012 Martin was listed on Ebony Magazine’s Power 100 list.[5] That same year he received the award for “Outstanding Achievement in Directing” from the Seattle International Film Festival.[6]

On April 28, 2015, Martin gave a talk at TEDx on Orcas Island, Washington, titled “Reimagining America’s Culture Narrative”, in which he discussed race and diversity in the film and television industry and the media more broadly.[7]


2015 saw the television premiere of the feature documentary I Am Dying, co-directed by Martin and produced by Joaquin Phoenix, Casey Affleck and Mary Lisio of Scott Free for National Geographic.[8][9] The film chronicles Renee and Rita Heidtman as Renee loses her life to terminal breast cancer while her sister Rita cares for her.

Martin is currently co-directing the upcoming National Geographic Channel feature documentary LA 92, which will tell the story of the 1992 Los Angeles civil unrest that broke out following the acquittal of four Los Angeles Police Officers charged with the use of excessive force against Rodney King. LA 92 will showcase unseen news archives and personal footage to immerse viewers in the immediacy of the events as they unfolded.[10]

Other work[edit]

Working officially as the directing duo Martin + Lindsay, Martin and Lindsay have continued their work across various platforms including short films, television, and commercial work. Their short film My Favorite Picture of You (2014) screened at numerous film festivals, was featured on The Atlantic and Vice, chosen as a Vimeo Staff Pick, and nominated for a Webby Award.[11][12][13][14] Martin and Lindsay have co-directed a number of television commercials for Gatorade, Facebook, Toyota, Prudential Financial, Hallmark Cards, the United Negro College Fund, and Honey Maid. The “This Is Wholesome” campaign, directed for Honey Maid, garnered both controversy and praise for its portrayal of parents and their children that include a single father, an interracial couple, and a gay couple.[15][16]


Year Work Award Result
2002 A Day in the Hype of America Rhode Island International Film Festival - Best Documentary Won
2011 Undefeated[17][18][19] SXSW Film Festival - Audience Award Nominated
2011 Southeastern Film Critics Association - Wyatt Award 2nd Place
2011 Houston Film Critics Society Awards - Best Documentary Feature Won
2011 Philadelphia Film Festival - Audience Award Won
2011 Indie Memphis Film Festival - Audience Award Won
2011 Chicago International Film Festival - Audience Choice Award, Best Documentary Feature Won
2011 DOC NYC - Special Jury Award Won
2012 Broadcast Film Critics Association Award - Best Documentary Feature Nominated
2012 Black Reel Awards - Best Documentary Nominated
2012 Academy Awards - Best Documentary, Feature Won
2013 Christopher Awards - Feature Films Won


  1. ^ Berry, S. Torriano; Berry, Venise T. (2015). Historical Dictionary of African American Cinema. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. p. xxix. ISBN 978-1-4422-4701-7. 
  2. ^ "Rhode Island International Film Festival Awards for 2002". Retrieved 28 January 2017. 
  3. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike (March 14, 2011). "SXSW: Gridiron Documentary 'Undefeated' Scores Big Weinstein Company Deal". Retrieved January 28, 2017. 
  4. ^ "Rotten Tomatoes Undefeated (2012)". Retrieved January 28, 2017. 
  5. ^ "EBONY Reveals 2012 Power 100!". Retrieved January 28, 2017. 
  6. ^ "SIFF Facebook Page". Retrieved January 28, 2017. 
  7. ^ "TJ Martin". Retrieved January 28, 2017. 
  8. ^ "I Am Dying". Retrieved January 28, 2017. 
  9. ^ Heidtman, Rita. "Why My Sister Allowed Her Death to Be Filmed for TV". Retrieved January 28, 2017. 
  10. ^ Gerard, Jeremy (March 15, 2016). "Ron Howard’s Mars, Alex Gibney’s Water Quest & Puppies Highlight National Geographic Networks’ Push To Premium – Upfronts". Retrieved January 28, 2017. 
  11. ^ "My Favorite Picture of You". Retrieved January 28, 2017. 
  12. ^ "My Favorite Picture of You". Retrieved January 28, 2017. 
  13. ^ "A Film Explores Memory, Love and Identity at the End of Life". January 22, 2014. Retrieved January 28, 2017. 
  14. ^ Bowers, Jeffrey (December 16, 2014). "The Best Online Short Films of 2014". Retrieved January 28, 2017. 
  15. ^ "Nabisco’s Gay-Inclusive Honey Maid/Teddy Grahams Commercial Slammed By One Million Moms". March 20, 2014. Retrieved January 28, 2017. 
  16. ^ Solomon, Andrew (April 5, 2014). "HONEY MAID AND THE BUSINESS OF LOVE". Retrieved January 28, 2017. 
  17. ^ "Undefeated Awards". Retrieved January 28, 2017. 
  18. ^ "And the winner is...". November 9, 2011. Retrieved January 28, 2017. 
  19. ^ "AWARD WINNERS ANNOUNCED FOR THE 2011 INDIE MEMPHIS FILM FESTIVAL". November 6, 2011. Retrieved January 28, 2017. 

External links[edit]