Addison O'Dea (/oʊˈdeɪ/, oh-DAY) is a filmmaker and explorer specializing in anthropology and the human condition, with a focus around culture within conflict and war.
His work is largely within the documentary genre and has been broadcast by publishers such as Discovery, Inc., National Geographic, Seeker, YouTube, and OZY. To date, Addison has been to all seven continents with work in states such as Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Bolivia, East Timor, Benin, South Africa, Myanmar, Oman, Western Sahara, Vietnam, Togo, Brazil, and Mexico.
Early life and education
Addison was born on June 15th, 1979 in New York Hospital to his parents Patrick O'Dea (1938 - 2007) and Sara (née Greenway) O'Dea. Raised as the eldest of three brothers in New York City, the family traveled internationally extensively for both personal and professional reasons. O'Dea initially attended the Buckley School, followed by Indian Mountain School and international baccalaureate for high-school at the Dwight School in Manhattan. He holds a BSc. from New York University.
His work includes writing, directing, and producing film and television about subjects such as the origin of voodoo through West African Vodun in Togo and Benin; exploring ancient Quranic libraries in the Sahara; the principals of afterlife in Vietnamese Buddhism; and the relationship between cloistered cults, like Santa Muerte, and organized religion.
His current projects include producing Eugene Jarecki's new scripted feature "Tuareg Project" (working title). It is an action film about a member of the Tuareg people native to the Sahara. He is also the writer and producer of a new documentary series called Beat Nation, currently in development with Ginedo Films, also produced by Nabil Elderkin and Mattia Bogianchino.
His largest project to date is writing and directing the thirty six episode series Discovery TRVLR for Discovery, Inc. and Google. Filmed on all seven continents, the series centers around a “Guru, Renegade, Entertainer or Explorer” in each environment as they pull the curtain back on varying rituals, unique traditions and life-threatening quests that encompass their culture.” At that time, Discovery TRVLR was Discovery's largest virtual reality project to date.
The series was designed by O'Dea to go to as remote locations as possible and focus on the universality of the people who live there. Rather than sending a message of 'we are all the same' or forcing Western ideals on the characters, the idea is to create an elegant juxtaposition at a hyperlocal level. “Defying convention” in Communist Vietnam is significantly different when contrasted alongside the same idea in Catholic Mexico.
From an interview with Addison in Filmmaker about the show:
“A core tenet of TRVLR is access, getting into closed communities that are otherwise not open to visitors. Given how popular the travel genre is, you have to work harder as a producer and director to seek out these communities and earn their trust. That meant we were shooting in locations that required negotiations for safe passage through gangland and armed security.”