Pittsfield native Caitrin Rogers captures Oscar as producer of top documentary


PITTSFIELD -- One of the more iconic moments in Sunday night's Academy Awards ceremony occurred when singer Darlene Love celebrated the Oscar won by a film in which she appeared.

Love belted out a portion of "I Sing Because I'm Happy," by the Georgia Mass Choir, as the film's producer and director looked on, smiling.

That producer might be familiar to a few area residents. She is Caitrin Rogers, 31, who was born and raised in Pittsfield.

Rogers, along with director Morgan Neville, Love and Janet Freisen, the wife of the film's late co-producer, Gil Freisen, were all on-stage to collect the Oscar honoring "20 Feet From Stardom" as the best documentary.

The movie follows Love and fellow singers Lisa Fischer, Merry Clayton, Jo Lawry and many others through their careers as backup singers to some of the great names in popular music-- including the Rolling Stones, Talking Heads and Bruce Springsteen.

The movie had already won an award for Best Documentary at the 19th annual Critics Choice Awards.

The film was released last year to nearly universal accolades. The review website "Rotten Tomatoes" gave the movie a 99 percent approval rating. Critics say it may help jump-start the careers of some of the singers.

In an interview following her win, Rogers agreed.

"It's brought them a little closer to the spotlight," she told the Associated Press.

The production had a budget of $1 million and has been a big box office success, making $5.4 million to date.

Rogers, who has spent the last decade in Hollywood, is the daughter of Suzanne Nichols and John Rogers. Judy Rogers, of Pittsfield, is her stepmother.

She graduated in 2000 from Northfield Mount Herman where she was a high honors student and the winner of the Leif Brandenberg Memorial Student Leader Award.

A childhood friend, former Pittsfield resident Amanda Rae Busch, recalled "making mischief" with Rogers in the Elm Street neighborhood of Pittsfield. All Rogers' friends were rooting for her on Sunday, said Busch, now living in Colorado.

"She looked stunning," said Busch.

Rogers began her film career as an editor a few years after graduation, moving to Los Angeles and working for a variety of companies, including MTV, VH1, BET and Disney.

In 2005, she began working with award-winning editor Paul Crowder on "Once in a Lifetime," which Crowder directed and Rogers edited.

In 2009, Rogers and Crowder teamed up again to direct and edit "Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who." The film was nominated for a Grammy that same year.

In 2007, Rogers also began working for Passion Pictures as a producer on the documentary "The Tillman Story," which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival

In 2011, she moved on to work with Greg Barker on productions for PBS Frontline and HBO.

"Twenty Feet from Stardom" had it's local premiere on May 30, 2013, at the Mahaiwe Theater as the Opening Night film at the 8th annual Berkshire International Film Festival. Rogers was unable to attend, but Love appeared, and presented a brief concert following the movie.

A few months later, in December, having been invited back to the Mahaiwe Theater, Love confessed that she thought "20 Feet" might win an academy award.

"Wouldn't that be amazing?" she had asked the crowd.

To reach Derek Gentile:
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On Twitter: @DerekGentile


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