Thomas Rigler is a 2019 Emmy-winning director, executive producer, and nonfiction showrunner operating on the razor’s edge of art, social impact, and commerce. He creates award-winning documentary series and authentic stories for television and streaming platforms, often in collaboration with aspirational corporate brands. Thomas chases storylines and topics in pursuit of the creative process in film, theater, music, art, design, public health, and science, as well as the mysteries of the human experience inside our cities and protected landscapes.
Most recently he was tasked to re-invent the style and format of the PBS flagship program “Lost LA” for KCET, directing and executive producing all six episodes of season three. These efforts garnered 2019 Emmy Awards for the entire core team, including cinematographer, editor, and Thomas’ own Emmy win for directing and producing. Prior to that, the 16-part series “City Walk” that he created, directed, and executive produced for PBS explored urban design, planning, and public health across the country. The show, which featured appearances by Penn & Teller, Mayor Bloomberg, Luke Wilson, Stewart Copeland, and Reese Witherspoon, also received Emmy Award nominations for Thomas and his team.
Thomas’s long-running awareness campaigns and PSA’s include the seven-year “Every Body Walk!” campaign for Kaiser Permanente; “Step it Up!” for the Office of the US Surgeon General, featuring US Surgeon General Dr. Murthy and Alison Janney; and the award-winning Funny or Die PSA “The West Wing Reunion,” featuring Martin Sheen, Allison Janney, Josh Malina, and Dulé Hill, a viral video that crossed into the treasured Immortal category on the popular comedy platform.
Prior to enjoying the creative freedom of directing award-winning shows on PBS and its affiliates during the past decade, Thomas spent six formative years in-house at E! / Style Networks, where he directed and executive produced hundreds of hours of programming. Productions for 15 television networks and OTT platforms in the US, Europe, and Latin America followed, among them: KCET, LinkTV, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Funny or Die, NBC, CNET, Fine Living, Food Network, ZDF, Arte, 3Sat, and ORF.
In 2008, Thomas founded the “Content Summit”, a co-located event to the “Digital Hollywood” conference taking place bi-annually in Los Angeles and New York, and curated the summit during 8 years and 20 editions, booking hundreds of creative innovators from every branch of the entertainment industry to speak at panels and keynotes. Geared to inspire, the impressive list included top TV showrunners like Tim Kring and Dan Harmon, actors like Luke Wilson, Matthew Modine and Kevin Pollak, directors David Zucker and Bill Duke, as well as digital visionaries like Jimmy Wales.
During his tenure as host of “Hollywood Talks Shop,” a series of live talks with German expatriates at the Goethe Institute LA, Thomas presented career reviews and conversations with some of his favorite artists and filmmakers, such as Wim Wenders, Hans Zimmer, Udo Kier and Roland Emmerich.
Fortunate to have studied writing and directing at Austria’s prestigious National Film Academy, Thomas was twice selected for the AFI’s Digital Content Lab program and is a four-time recipient of the Whale Tail Grant from the State of California for extensive film work on coastal preservation. He served on the Board of the International Documentary Association as its Vice President and is a proud member of the TV Academy, the Producers Guild of America, and the WEBBYs, as well as the Austrian Directors Association.