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Many of you were kind enough to stop by the last diary with tips and encouragement. Many thanks.

Now I had accumulated over 900 still photos of the 1913 Gettysburg Reunion of Civil War veterans, collected some rare film clips from the event (really!) and learned a ton of stuff I never knew about it (54,000 vets ended up coming, from 47 of the 48 states (New Mexico if you need to know), and for instance, there were 200 reporters that kept the Western Union telegraph office open 24/7. The Times of London and The Evening Telegraph both got trans-Atlantic cables twice a day from their reporters. This was a BIG deal.)

And you  make this into a documentary HOW?

Well......first you need a script. (WineRev digs through hat closet to put on visor marked "screenwriter." Sets up battered Underwood typewriter, waits for nightfall. Then turns on one half-shell desk lamp to drive back the surrounding gloom of a third story apartment. Half empty bottle of cheap scotch next to a fingerprint-smeared glass. Sets up ashtray with several crushed butts. Uses crazy glue to stick half burned cigarette to corner of mouth and begins typing with two fingers.......)

.......after a good bit reading I discover that writing a script for a documentary is different than writing a script for most other kinds of film. You write a sort of shooting script that includes on location shots (Gettysburg hills; Mayan temples with a carving of Steve Jobs entering a UFO; the bow of the Titanic 4 miles underwater with a Celine Dion CD lashed to the bowsprit), all the stills and clips you want to use in an order that makes rough sense (Washington BEFORE Lincoln; FIRST the clip of the back yard and door to the English manor house THEN the kitchen where the ghost makes rosewater cakes), interviews with various experts (the ghost of Bruce Catton; Erik van Danniken; the Icelandic vulcanologist) , and various lines for the narrator.

Then you go out and shoot all the interviews and on-site bits, come back to a studio and paste it all together and revise all the earlier script into a Revised Standard Version Script 2.0.

Now what?

Well, over the course of a few weeks I had lunch with three different film-maker type people here in the Twin Cities. After sifting through everything they had 2 recommendations:
1) Find two veterans (ideally one from each side) who attended the 1913 Reunion who were affected by it. From diaries, letters etc if someone was angry or suspicious beforehand and was far more reconciled and at peace afterward. Would give the whole project an individual angle to balance off the grand sweep of the rest.
2) You need a budget.
     "Fine. How much, and for what?"
"PRE-production: Exec. Producer, Director, Writer/Researcher, Production Consultant, Rewrite, Interview Transcription.....about $40,000."
     "What? Producer/ Director?"
"Well that's you?'
     "You mean I'd get paid to produce my own film?"
"Work it right and yeah. Of course."
     "OK. I can handle that. What else?"
"Production: Interviews, B-Roll (little bits to fill in), travel to sites, and some animation.... about $17,000."
     "OK, makes sense. And if there was PRE-production, is there....?"
"Yep. POST-production. Editing from rough to direct to finish. Manipulating and merging all the photos and film. Voice-over narration. Music......Around $18,000"
     "Anything else?"
"Well Rights and Clearances. A lot of the photos will be 100 years old or more so they are in the public domain, so there's no problem using those. But you need to have written permission or releases to use every image, clip and musical bit you drop in. A lot you'll get for just asking, others will want a credit ("The producer wishes to thank the following individuals and organizations for their help in the production of this film: The Historical Society of ___. Mr. & Mrs. Frank Burns of Fort Wayne, IN. etc."). And then some will want some money. Maybe a little. Maybe a lot. You pay the little (like $10, plus a credit). If they want a lot, use a cheaper picture, or, if you have to have a certain one, suck it up and pay for it. All told, to be on the safe side better figure about $20,000."
     "So all told, about $100,000 in round numbers?"
"That's about the size of it."


So OK, now I know. Not outrageous, but not exactly a weekend hobby either. So where to get the money?

Next diary to the mysteries and glories of Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.

But meanwhile I have posted a few veterans' photos on my Facebook page here.

And if you want to read more about  the event and/or what I've written about it you can go here to the tab "Encampment."

Thanks for reading along. Keeping you  posted.


(PS. Word is the actor Richard Dreyfuss (American Graffitti, Jaws, Goodbye Girl, Mr. Holland's Opus) has not only created an organization (The Dreyfuss Initiative) to promote civics and the Constitution in American life, but that he is a Civil War re-enactor. Anyone on these boards know of a way to maybe contact him to see if he might be willing to help fund this documentary? With Kossacks, you never know, so I'm asking.)

Originally posted to WineRev on Mon Apr 09, 2012 at 05:29 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Cool project! Best wishes with it - (7+ / 0-)

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Mon Apr 09, 2012 at 06:35:29 PM PDT

  •  What about Bob? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KenBee, jacey

    Am I right, or am I right? - The Singing Detective

    by Clem Yeobright on Mon Apr 09, 2012 at 07:19:59 PM PDT

  •  Well Rev, I hope you believe in (3+ / 0-)

    the resurrection of the dead.  If you are going to find a veteran from each side who attended an event in 1913, you are going to need that miracle.

    I've been around a few docs being made and your numbers are about right—$2000 a minute.  So you are fine there.  What you seem to be missing is the "why."  Why do you want to make this?  Is there something new here that hasn't been covered?  (Gettysburg HAS been covered pretty extensively, after all.) Who wants to see another doc on the Civil War? (For example, all my ancestors came to USA after 1880 so we had no dog in this fight.  IF you believe we did have a dog in that fight, how are you going to convince us that is true before your movie opens?) How are you going to market your doc—or are you going to just post it to YouTube and hope for the best?  Etc.

    I remember you once wrote a book about the election of Al Franken.  Did that book make you any money or do have most of those books sitting in your garage?  Now you are a clever writer but did you ask the question, "Who besides Al Franken's mother wanted to read a book about that recount?"

    Lots of docs being made these days.  The overwhelming majority won't make anyone a dime.  Unless you can find a benefactor who is willing to lose all his money on this project, you might want to think long and hard about how much effort you want to put into it.

    •  Yours (3+ / 0-)

      is just the kind of feedback I hope for on these boards. Many thanks.

      As to your "why?" A few points pop into mind, although whether they are compelling enough is another matter.

      1) This 1913 gathering, while easily the biggest US event of the year, has been completely forgotten. I know hardcore CW fanatics, re-enactors and professors of American history who are amazed to hear the Reunion actually happened.
      So for the sake of remembering, of telling the story, of filling in part of our portrait, this story needs to be told.

      2) Yes, the CW and Gettysburg have been extensively covered, exhaustively written about and filmed. (Indeed in 1913 several sources I have encountered report 97 CW-related films were made that year alone!)
      Yet I will confidently wager virtually all of those efforts focus on the War itself, not the aftermath, which would make this effort unusual if not unique.

      3) This documentary would be a direct challenge to what I call America's "Bad Bargain" about the Civil War. The Bargain is in three parts:
            A) We can talk/study/debate/argue about the War itself, from Ft. Sumter 4/12/61 to Appomattox 4/9/65 unceasingly. Tactics, strategies, technologies, personalities, personalities of generals and admirals, sex lives of Confederate cabinet members, medicine, shoe manufacturing techniques, right down to the last paper cartridge fired by the last soldier at Ft. Riley, KS.
      All of this has been done ad nauseum and continues to be.
           B) We may NOT talk about the causes of the War if it involves mentioning slavery.
           States' rights, tariffs, social constructions, plantation economies, industrialization, settlement of the West, impact of the Mexican War on Senatorial representation.....all of this and more are fair game AS LONG AS you mention slavery (if you must) only in passing. (So stay away from Dred Scott and John Brown, would you please? They are in SUCH bad taste.) The main reason is that this would mean coming to grips with racism, mostly Southern, but enough Northern that everyone is uneasy/guilty/embarrassed, so lets talk about Union Navy battle tactics on the Tennessee River, shall we?
           C) We may NOT talk about the outcomes of the War (ie ANYTHING after April 9, 1865, when...ahem...."General Lee, faced by overwhelming numbers and materiel, decided to withdraw from the contest over states' rights.")
      The only comment allowed is to say, "Reconstruction was bad."
      Passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments? Bad, and unmentionable.
      The Anti-Klan hearings of 1869-70 and the passage of the Anti-Klan acts of 1871 that led to its demise for nearly 50 years? Bad and unmentionable.
      The Ulysses Grant administration? According to Southern historians that wrote at length and dominated American post-Civil War faculties in history for 80 years: the worst administration ever! (What do you expect from a man who beat Robert E. Lee anyway?)
      Ensuring black voting by Army troops when necessary? Bad and unmentionable.
      Negroes getting 40 acres and a mule to establish themselves economically? Bad and unmentionable.
      US vs. Cruickshank (1875) that allowed murder of blacks by whites to be tried by all-white juries if the crime was charged at all? Bad and unmentionable.
      Disenfranchisement of black voting beginning in 1877 with the end of Reconstruction and the "Redeemed" state governments of the South? Bad and unmentionable.

      Except for the Grant Administration, all this and more is rarely in the history books to this day.
      Also rarely there: what happened to the men who went home in 1865. Did they disappear? Work the farm? Mind the store? Settle the West?

      And what did THEY think of the War, their comrades and especially, their old enemies? By 1913, they had decided their old foes were men, fellow veterans, fellow citizens of the same nation. They did not hate them anymore and were at peace with them. Their children and grandchildren wanted to go on arguing and hating and suppressing blacks and keeping "the Lost Cause" alive (and they succeeded, down to our day, tragically), but it is worth noting that the men who had had the greatest personal stake in keeping the War alive were publicly willing to make peace in 1913.

      That's the WHY of the this documentary.

      Thank you so much for the comment and forcing this one out of me.


      "God has given wine to gladden the hearts of people." Psalm 104:15

      by WineRev on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 05:11:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  OK (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        If you are going to talk about the CW and its aftermath, are you going to mention all the corruption—like the bunch surrounding Grant?  Are you going to mention how every progressive movement of the 19th century got crushed by the bloody shirt argument?  Are you going to cover the "crime of 1873"?

        I happen to believe the best outcome would have been to just let the south go.  I grow exceedingly tired of the slimeball politicians we have to deal with from the south.  And that most emphatically includes Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton—not just Gnoot and Haley Barbour.

        I mean, just look at the progressive legislation that got passed once the southerners were out of the government—Morrill Act, Homestead Act, etc.  And that was just 1862.

        If I were to do a historical doc, I would cover the worst president of them all—Wilson.  From the disastrous bill to form the Federal Reserve to his treacherous entry into World War I (which no less a scholar than Bertrand Russell called the greatest historical mistake ever), Wilson is the man whose decisions still make the lives of Americans miserable to this day.

        And yes, Wilson was a southerner.

        •  Oh and BTW (0+ / 0-)

          obviously I'm NOT looking for a veteran who attended in 1913 (the last of them all died in 1956, covered by Life magazine). What I'm after are diaries, letters, memoirs or articles that have Cpl. So & So of Magnolia, MS saying (in, say, 1911) "Them durn Yankees ain't worth a rush and they should all hang." Then he goes to the 1913 Gettysburg Reunion, and his daughter is quoted in his obituary as saying, "He always thought most kindly of the Yankees the last few years of his life.".....something like that, and the equivalent from a Northern source.

          And while there is an IMMENSE amount to cover in the Reconstruction period all the way up (down) to WWI (including Wilson's virulent racism to keep his Virginia relatives happy and content), no, my documentary is centered on this one, shaded event that meant peace between the sections and COULD have meant a great deal more. It was a missed chance for America.


          PS. While the corruption of the Grant administration was significant (exceeded by Harding, Nixon, Reagan (if you count Iran-Contra and esp. the Keating S&L scandal that destroyed an entire industry) and George W. in particular) I would note to you that historians have shaken off the anti-Grant vitriol that held sway for so long. (Much of that was rooted in the overwhelming literary output of Southern writers, beginning with Pollard in 1866, that despised Grant as the architect of Lee's defeat.)
               Grant's administration enabled the 14th and 15th Amendments, was willing to use the Army (and military courts) to break the Klan to protect free blacks. (All anathema to Southern writers of course, but solid achievements nonetheless). He also established the first national park in the world (Yellowstone, 1872), dismissed Sheridan as commander of the Army when Phil got off the line about "the only good Indian is a dead Indian", thought Custer was an ass who was unsurprisingly killed at Little Bighorn.
                 I have been pleased to see over the last 30 years that on the list of presidents (from best to worst; various schools and organizations put one out every few years, having polled the academic community) Grant has marched from near the bottom (hanging out with guys like Harding, Buchanan, George W., and William Henry Harrison) to somewhere about 22nd to 25th, middle of the pack or close to it. He was always underestimated in the military (ask John Pemberton) and has now risen to average. Not bad for a 140 year march.

          "God has given wine to gladden the hearts of people." Psalm 104:15

          by WineRev on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 06:17:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  If your project is to rehab Grant's rep (0+ / 0-)

            You have a BIG task ahead of you.  When I think of what the Republican Party was in Ripon Wisconsin when it was founded and what it was after Grant got done with it, I shudder at the contrast.  But then, I write about economic development and Grant was a MAJOR crook when it came to selling out the nation to the robber barons.

            As for Wilson, in my humble opinion, his racism was the best part about that freaking disaster.  It was ALL downhill from there.  So no, I don't agree with the establishment scholars who have been rehabbing that boy's rep for the last 20 years or so.  Just remember, the last bunch of serious Wilsonites were the neocons stampeding the USA into an invasion of Iraq so their intellectual status is suspect.

            But hey, this is your project.  If you have a donor—spend his money and make SURE you get paid.  I like your stuff and want you to succeed.  But I also wonder how you choose your projects.  I actually drove over to your wine store with the mission of trying to talk you out of your Franken book.  You weren't in so I decided that it wasn't my business.  I hope I was wrong and you made a tidy profit from your work.  But somehow, I don't think that is what happened.

            •  Actually, no (0+ / 0-)

              the rehabilitation of the Grant administration is NOT what I am about. And note I refer to Grant's reputation rising to middle of the pack, NOT Wilson's (a man I distinctly do NOT like the more I learn of him.)

              How do I choose my projects? Well the Franken recount chose ME. I just wanted to put up some local color until the thing ended at the end of November (! HAH!!!). Little did I know.....

              This Gettysburg documentary? Well, its an outgrowth of the research I did for my novel. I wanted to get as close to historical as I could for my historical-fiction, and I ended up an accidental expert on the Reunion.



              "God has given wine to gladden the hearts of people." Psalm 104:15

              by WineRev on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 07:05:30 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

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