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.
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"
"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.)