Wattstax Director Mel Stuart
Mel Stuart was born in New York, and aspired to a career in music. However, after graduating from New York University he decided to pursue a career as a filmmaker. In 1960, David Wolper asked him to join a newly formed production company. For the following 17 years, Stuart served as a key executive with the Wolper Organization. During that time he produced and directed dozens of documentaries - - among them The Making of the President, Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Four Days in November and Wattstax.
He also directed various features including Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and If Its Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium.
In 1977 the Wolper organization was acquired by Warner Brothers. Since that time, Stuart has been an independent producer and director. Among his productions have been documentaries such as Man Ray: Prophet of the Avant-Garde and Billy Wilder - The Human Comedy for PBS, AFIs 100 Years-100 Movies, Inside the KGB and the reality series, Ripleys Believe It or Not. He also worked in long-form television, producing or directing various television dramas such as Bill, The Triangle Factory Fire and Ruby and Oswald.
Stuart served as President of the International Documentary Association for two years and has been the recipient of many Emmy Awards, a Peabody award and an Oscar Nomination for his work.
In November 2002, Stuart published Pure Imagination: The Making of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, a compendium of facts, photos and film stills. (St. Martin's Press; ISBN: 0312287771)
He is currently producing a one-hour television special, Still Perfect- 20 Memorable Photographs and a series on living American poets.
Among the many acknowledgments of his work have been four Emmies, a Peabody Award, and an Oscar Nomination. For two years he served as President of the International Documentary Association. He has been a guest lecturer on the subject of film and video production at various universities.