From high school interviews with rock stars to Emmy-winning news content in virtual reality, Neil Mandt's career arc is a masterclass in the evolution of media.


Experience in news media and beyond

Discover the keys to success from a self-taught, award-winning journalist who has made an impact in the world of news and television reporting.

teaching you how to break into Media & Entertainment

Becoming a journalist

I have loved the news business since I was a kid. My father and I would read the newspaper and watch the evening news together. He would contextualize the stories for me, sharing the bigger picture behind them. When I was in junior high school and high school, I began working for the school paper, but I was hungry for more.

Rather than limit my stories to who won last night's varsity wrestling match or announce the participants in the bake sale, I decided to use the high school's TV production equipment and start my own public access show to interview rock stars who came through Detroit. From Lenny Kravitz to the B52s, I would call record companies and request a one-on-one sit-down interview with dozens of platinum-selling artists.

These formative years were instrumental in shaping my career in the news industry. They taught me the importance of curiosity, persistence, and versatility. Learning to tell stories from various angles, mastering different production roles, and navigating the challenges of securing high-profile interviews honed my skills and prepared me for the complexities of professional journalism. This diverse background not only made me a better storyteller but also instilled in me the confidence and adaptability necessary to thrive in a fast-paced and ever-evolving media landscape. 

I continued writing, producing, directing, editing, and hosting my local cable show VTV Special Report: Rock Interviews, through my junior year of college. After winning the National College Emmy for News and was offered an opportunity to become a professional reporter for the NBC affiliate in Detroit.

WDIV News Reporter

At the age of 20, I was hired to be the Entertainment Reporter for WDIV TV4 in Detroit. The station was the number 1 rated newscast in the 6th largest TV market in the country at the time. This was is a tale that is relevant to any young person interested in a professional career in any aspect of media. Youth is incredibly valuable, it's something that many programmers will always want to align with, access to what young people think is cool and interesting. As such, WDIV was willing to take a chance on me.

I had the necessary credibility with the College Emmy and more than 4 years of experience in producing dozens of episodes of my interview show. They wanted someone who was young, polished, and could deliver them unique access. My rolodex of decision-makers in the entertainment business at the age of 20 was deeper than anyone else in the newsroom.

ESPN Reporter

On-camera reporter for ESPN

In the professional news industry, there are three main types of employers: local, national, and online. Local newspapers, TV stations, and online platforms focus on the local communities. Creators looking to break into this business usually make their way from smaller markets with fewer people to larger ones.

While national organizations in the TV space are referred to as networks, for many, the ultimate goal is to ascend to a top 10 local market or achieve the highest success, get hired by one of the main national networks. I was able to transition directly from working as an Entertainment Reporter in local news to my next job, an on-camera Sports Reporter for ESPN at the age of 22.

ABC NEWS. O.J. Simpson Criminal Trial, Oklahoma City Bombing, Unabomber, CBS News

Covering the O.J. Simpson Trial

By the time I was 25, I had been reporting and producing news content for more than a decade; I was ready for something bigger. So, when ABC News called me in January of 2005 and asked me if I would accept a job as the Producer in Charge of the network's daily coverage of the O.J. Simpson Criminal Trial, I was ready for the challenge. The audience watching my stories was very large and took my responsibilities very seriously. However, I wasn't just in charge of the O.J. story; in April of 1995, I was sent to Oklahoma to manage the national coverage of the tragic Oklahoma City bombing event, and later the Unabomber's threats to blow up LAX.

NBC Sports, CBS Sports, ESPN and FOX Sports

I've produced a significant amount of news and documentary content for leading sports networks, winning an Emmy for NBC's 2000 Summer Olympics coverage. I also created and directed Sports Jobs with Junior Seau for Versus.

My work with ESPN, particularly on shows like Reel Classics Uncut, Jim Rome is Burning, and Beg, Borrow & Deal, has profoundly influenced my career, blending intense sports action with engaging storytelling. These projects, delving into the essence of sports culture, transformed mere statistics into compelling tales of resilience and determination.

FOX Sports and CBS Sports have also embraced my storytelling approach, acquiring series like Strangers in Danger and Superfan. The transition of Jim Rome’s show to CBS after a decade at ESPN underscores the enduring impact of content that connects deeply with viewers. My time with these networks has been immensely fulfilling, allowing me to contribute meaningfully to the evolution of sports broadcasting.

"Million Dollar Arm" Independent Documentary Turns into a Narrative Feature Film for Disney

Million Dollar Arm poster

In my opinion, there is nothing more difficult to sell than a movie to a major studio. Any major movie studio makes about 10 movies a year that are released in theaters, and of those, almost always they are made by established studio creators, with stars attached, and often are based on some existing intellectual property (like a remake). After reading a blog on the internet about two young men who had won a pitching contest in India and were at the time training at USC, my brother and I began documenting their process. I didn’t have a plan beyond shooting an independent documentary.

However, when they received contract offers from the Pittsburgh Pirates to play for their minor league, I knew I had captured a story that was worthy of becoming a studio movie. I cut together a short trailer of our footage and, without a script, just using the video, we sold the movie to Walt Disney Studios. The movie starred Jon Hamm, Alan Arkin, Lake Bell, Bill Paxton, and I was a producer on the picture.

Emmy Award-Winning News Content in Virtual Reality in Partnership with Facebook

CrimeDoor became my most ambitious news content effort when my wife and I developed the online platform in 2020. Our team curated hundreds of thousands of hours of True Crime news and information on a mobile app that also offered the user the ability to walk into recreations of famous crime scenes in 3D by using a smartphone camera. This revolutionary use of technology in the news space won many awards and pushed the CrimeDoor app to the number four position of all news app downloads in the iOS app store.

CrimeDoor wasn’t limited to online and 3D content. In 2022, we began production on a daily TV series. CrimeDoor TV is currently distributed on streamers that include Tubi, Vizio & Roku. The CrimeDoor online platform now operates entirely using AI tools.

By 2016, I had been working for two years as a producer of virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence content. I produced hard news and sports news 3D experiences in partnership with companies like Facebook, NFL & FOX, yielding two Emmys for news & technology. I also was the first to produce the Super Bowl in virtual reality, which resulted in winning a Clio Award.

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Producing The Last Movie Star for A24

Recent work

Digital Rights Management

Tech platform providing risk analytic solutions and licensing opportunities to property owners from location-based digital media companies.

Since the pandemic, I Produced The Golden Globe Awards, won numerous awards in AR content creation and raised millions of dollars from private investors to fund my AI company

Golden Globe Awards 

Creative direction and management of all aspects of the 2022 broadcast of this global awards show.


The world’s most comprehensive app of True Crime content.

Facing challenges in your storytelling journey? Together, we'll build your skills from the ground up, using my expertise to guide you towards crafting narratives that captivate and resonate.

Neil Mandt