Rick Rowley started his career making short documentaries at the age of 19, while also co-founding Big Noise Films. These early efforts included "Zapatista" (1999), "This Is What Democracy Looks Like," and "The Fourth World War" (2003). However, when the U.S. launched strikes on Iraq in 2003, Rowley made the abrupt and dangerous decision to cover the war firsthand as a cameraman. While exposed to the everyday atrocities of the war, Rowley began filming news reports for CNN, BBC, and PBS, among various other prestigious outlets. His short films during this period focused on war and its effects on soldiers and their families, such as "Deserter" (2007), which told the story of an American soldier and his young wife as they attempted to cross the Canadian border for immediate asylum. Committed to telling powerful stories through the medium of film, by 2013 Rowley had teamed up with the investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill as he uncovered covert military operations being used by the United States government in its ongoing War on Terror campaign. The result of their efforts was "Dirty Wars" (2013), which went on to earn Rowley and Scahill Oscar nominations for Best Documentary at the 2014 Academy Awards.