Photographer Charles Ommanney drove nearly 2000 miles along the US-Mexico border from Brownsville, TX to San Diego, CA where he photographed and filmed the border fence, and gathered testimony from US citizens along the border. The result is a unique perspective on the immigration debate through a conceptual exploration of the economic, political, environmental, and humanitarian costs of the construction of this fence. 

Runtime: 10:08


Photography: Charles Ommanney 
Video: Charles Ommanney
Editor and Producer: Andrew Hida
Graphics: Andrew Hida
Motion Graphic Map: Meagan Choi, Andrew Hida, Mina Liu
Executive Producers: Richard Wolffe and Amy Pereira



Client: MSNBC

Services Provided: Multimedia Production, Graphics

Publication Date: June 30, 2014


The photography department of MSNBC wanted to produce a 3-part series of short docs with the photography and video shot by photographer Charles Ommanney. The three videos needed to be produced in an intentionally cohesive visual style. However, each video also needed to stand alone in content and context since they would be published independently over three weeks.


The Fence is a branded 3-part MSNBC Original series that explores three important themes surrounding the debate over the US-Mexico border fence: The Human Toll, The Financial Cost, and The Environmental Impact. Each video tackles a complicated issue through a series of personal anecdotes that explore the complex relationship between the people and the land that they live on.

We decided on a conceptual approach to the editing and storytelling where voices do not necessarily represent nor coincide with the visuals. The result was a refreshing break from the traditional narrative structure and felt more experiential.

In order to create a consistent visual identity, each video is preceded by a driving 21-second bumper: a montage of voices and video from the project. To distinguish the chapters, following the bumper, the viewer was presented with a set of data and contextual information to position the particular video in the complex political, and historical landscape surrounding the US-Mexico border fence. 


2015. World Press Photo Multimedia Contest, 2nd Prize Long Feature