Thomas Rigler is a two-time Emmy-winning director and showrunner producing non-fiction and branded content on the razor’s edge of art, social impact and commerce.
Currently under contract for upcoming projects with ITV Studios, Spiegel TV and ARTE, Thomas previously served as the showrunner and director on California Coast, the 2021 Emmy- winning environmental and social justice series he created for PBS; the 2019 Emmy-winning PBS series Lost LA; and the 2015 Emmy-nominated PBS series City Walk, which he also created.
In his formative years Thomas spent 6 exciting years in-house at E! and Style Networks, a division of Comcast NBC Universal, starting out as writer-producer for several of the broadcast franchises, eventually overseeing his own production and development unit as Executive Producer at the beginning of the online and streaming era. Successful international platform launches for Comcast in the UK, Europe and Australia followed.
After some very productive years as a digital consultant for startups and corporate clients, Thomas launched his own outfit with Rigler Creative Handcrafted Digital, with a focus on broadcast series development and production for PBS, often in close collaboration with corporate brands and government agencies, among them: Kaiser Permanente Health Plan, the Office of the US Surgeon General, the CDC, and the State of California.
With production offices in Los Angeles and Vienna, Austria, Thomas chases storylines and topics in pursuit of the mysteries of the human experience inside our cities and protected landscapes, as well as the magic of the creative process in film, theater, music, art, design, public health and science.
He produced and directed close to 100 shows and programs for such broadcasters as PBS, E!, Style, Food Network, Fine Living, CNET, NBC, Arte, ZDF, and 3Sat, as well as streamers Amazon Prime and Hulu. As an executive he oversaw production teams generating around one thousand programs across various platforms.
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.
Having grown up in the scenic Alps and spending most of his childhood playing outdoors, Thomas initially attended Vienna's University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences for his undergraduate education in order to pursue a career in landscape architecture and environmental studies. While he stayed close to the themes and topics of these early years, the damage was done when a class project called for a short documentary film. Within months he found himself attending the writing and directing program at Austria's National film school and never looked back.
Thomas is a member of the Producers Guild of America; the Television Academy, the Academy’s Directors Peer Group; the board of directors of the Austrian Directors Association; a past board member / VP of the International Documentary Association and a two-time prototype participant with the American Film Institute’s Digital Content Lab.