Since 1942, it has been the prize for the best of the best journalism in the public service. The duPont Columbia silver baton has been passed from the hands of Murrow, Cronkite, Koppel —now to Kartemquin Films.

“Hard Earned,” a six-part documentary program, produced by Kartemquin for Al Jazeera America, brings viewers inside the homes and heartaches of five American families struggling to live at or near minimum wage. Kartemquin partnered with Chicago creative studio Mode Project to enhance the story with innovative design and animation that simplified complicated concepts.

Mode worked closely with the filmmakers, distilling data into clean and effective support for the story line. The result is inspired explanatory design at its best.

“This project required a design team who could create like artists and understand like journalists.” says Kartemquin Series Producer, Maggie Bowman. Mode worked like an extension of our production team.”

“Understanding a project’s communications goal is always paramount to our way of working. It was an honor to collaborate with Kartemquin on this meaningful series, and to help visually represent the critical topic of income inequality. We congratulate Kartemquin, not just on this important award, but on its continuing mission of deepening understanding of social issues.” said Mode Project’s Colin Carter.

If Kartemquin Films is the best in documentary filmmaking today, Mode Project is an example of the brightest in visual content, design and filmic storytelling. Mode has proven its extraordinary breadth—from commercial work for fortune 500 brands to iconic visual identity creations for clients such as the 2008 and 2012 Obama presidential campaigns.

The duPont Columbia awards honor stories told in a changing media landscape. There were 14 winners presented this year on January 19th. This is Al Jazeera America’s first duPont Columbia award.

“Hard Earned” Animated Graphics System Credits

Mode Project
Tracy Heropkie: Executive Producer
Brooks Ruyle: Creative Director
Lindsay Daniels: Creative Director / Concepting
Stefan Draht: Associate Creative Director / Designer - Animator
Brett Schnacky: Art Director / Designer - Animator
Editor: Mike Greiner

"Hard Earned" Series Credits

Series Producer: Maggie Bowman
Series Editors / Co-Directors: Liz Kaar, David E. Simpson
Jose & Elizabeth Story Director: Katy Chevigny
DJ & Takita Story Director: Maria Finitzo
Emilia Story Director: Ruth Leitman
Percy & Beverly Story Director: Brad Lichtenstein
Hilton & Diana Story Director: Joanna Rudnick
Executive Producers: Steve James, Justine Nagan, Gordon Quinn
Co-Producers: Mary Morrissette, Elizabeth Stanton
Associate Editor / Post Production Supervisor: Hillary Bachelder
Original Music: Norman Arnold
Opening Song: Aloe Blacc
Narrator: Elizabeth Laidlaw
Production Company: Kartemquin Films 

About Mode Project
Mode Project is a creative studio working in the realm of design, animation and live action storytelling. We create meaningful content for agencies and brands. Our specialty is problem solving and gaining a deep understanding of our clients' communications goals.