Fine Cut

Q&A: 'Cyberbullied' Director Doug Cembellin


"Cyberbullied" is a documentary directed by Doug Cembellin. The film will air as part of the 2014 edition of "Fine Cut," KCET's 17th annual festival of student films.

Here, we speak with Doug about the dire consequences of cyberbullying.

Doug Cembellin's Bio:

Doug Cembellin

Doug Cembellin is originally from Pleasanton, Calif. -- 45 minutes east of San Francisco. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in acting and directing, an MFA in cinema production, and has performed, directed, and produced throughout the Bay Area, across the United States, and in Europe. He began teaching special education in 1997.

From 2000-2003, he worked as a junior high drama teacher and taught English in China. He has worked as a counselor at a group home for troubled youths and as a site coordinator for a series of after-school programs in Los Angeles. In 2008 he traveled to Europe, Africa, and South and Central America in an effort to gain a more global perspective.

His great loves are his family, sports, the outdoors, and the arts. As a filmmaker, he hopes to bring joy and laughter to audiences as well as create work that informs and inspires.

Q&A with Doug Cembellin:

Describe how the idea for this film originated.

I own a company called uCamps ( We organize visual and performing arts sleep-away camps for students between the ages of 7 and 18. During the year we stay connected and we support our campers through social media. One day in 2010 our newsfeed exploded out of nowhere with campers posting "RIP," "Why did you have to die," "We'll miss you." It turns out that an 8th grader at a local middle school, attended by many of our campers, had committed suicide after being seriously harassed over the internet for being gay.

My heart sank upon learning this news. The truth is, when I was in high school, my little brother was teased mercilessly in middle school for being gay. Lucky for my brother, his time in middle school pre-dated the internet and he never suffered after school hours. The idea that a new form of bullying, from which a victim could not escape, made me sick to my stomach. That's when I felt like I had found the subject I wanted to pursue as a graduate school documentary filmmaker.


How/When did you decide you wanted to be a filmmaker?

When I was in the 6th grade, way back in 1985, I saw "The Goonies" on the big screen. It was one of the first times I was allowed to hang out with friends without adult supervision. My mom dropped me off at the theater and picked me up. I remember having a tub of popcorn and a coke and the experience of watching "The Goonies" completely changed my life. I wanted to adventure and explore and either be in or make films. My 30-year fascination with "The Goonies," in combination with my love for the arts and outdoors, led me to start uCamps, which led me to discovering cyberbullying.

What influences have inspired your work?

My own life experiences and the relationships I have with friends and family has most inspired my work. Traveling to Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America has helped shape my global consciousness and helped me appreciate what I have.


Name you top three favorite films.

For nostalgic reasons, I love "The Goonies." My favorite documentary is either "Spellbound" or the entire ESPN "30 for 30" series. My favorite narrative films are "Shawshank Redemption," "Good Will Hunting," and "The Empire Strikes Back," but I could spend all day racking my brain for my top 10 films. That list changes depending on my mood.

What is next for you?

In the fall, uCamps is launching a series of weekend outdoor retreats for middle and high schoolers called "Creating Campus Culture." We have booked four weekends in the months of September and October, serving seven schools and 400+ students. Over the weekend we will celebrate diversity, build leadership, and emphasize collaboration, respect, and acceptance, while at the same time teaching environmental, social, and cyber-consciousness. I just finished editing on a show for AMC called "Game of Arms" (Undertow Films). We're wrapping on a new website for uCamps and I'm editing a music video for a friend.


How can we follow you?

Personal social networking:

Film social networking:

Click here to watch the film.