Who We Are

About Cathleen


Cathleen O’Connell is an independent documentary producer based in Boston. Her films shine a light on lesser known but important facets of American culture – stories found when you exit the interstate and pull onto the blue highways and back roads. Her broadcast credits include non-fiction programming for PBS, Animal Planet, The History Channel and Discovery Channel.

About Desert Penguins


We love deserts and we love penguins, hence Desert Penguin Pictures. (Although someone once said it sounded like a Zen kōan, and we like that as an origin story as well.) Team Desert Penguin is a pool of talented collaborators - a flock of rare birds, although we don't wear tuxedos all that often. (Above is a Scottish penguin at the Edinburgh Zoo. When travelling, Desert Penguins seek out their brothers and sisters around the world.)

Contact us


Whether it's broadcast, digital or print, we'd love to help you tell your story - from production, budgeting, writing to research and archival clearances.  Get in touch with us via the interwebs at this robot-thwarting address: cathleen at desertpenguinpictures dot com. 

What We've Done


The Perfect Crime (American Experience/ PBS)

The shocking story of Leopold and Loeb and the "Crime of the Century"



Ripley: Believe It Or Not (American Experience/PBS)

Biography of Robert "Believe It Or Not" Ripley



War of The Worlds (American Experience/ PBS)

Orson Welles' infamous 1938 radio broadcast



Sousa On The Rez

A documentary about contemporary and historical Native American marching bands. A co-production with Vision Maker Media and produced in association with the Center for Independent Documentary


Additional Credits/Projects


The Best Way Is By Hand

GlobeDocs, 2019

 IFFBoston, 2019

 Femme Film Fest Lowell, 2019

Waltham Film Factory Shorts Fest, 2018* (*Film Factory Pick Award)


Latino Americans (PBS) - Recreations Producer Hours 1 & 2

About Face (VA) - Production Coordinator

God In America (PBS) - Co-Producer Hour 1 & 2

We Shall Remain (PBS) - Co-producer Hour 1

Welcome To The Club: The Women of Rockabilly - Archival Researcher 

River of Song (PBS) - Coordinating Producer 

all sorts of stuff on the IMDB page


Time Capsule: Message In A Bottle

The past, present, and future of time capsules



Stay tuned - good stuff in development...