Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Major Progress for Carl Sandburg film

Some exciting events over the past few months have moved us much closer to being able to completing and broadcasting the Sandburg film. Back in June, I met with the creator and executive producer, Susan Lacy of WNET and the American Masters program initiating on-going communication that will hopefully lead to The Day Carl Sandburg Died airing on American Masters.

In September, I spent some quality time with John Carl Steichen, Sandburg's grandson, reviewing the families private collection of home movies and other archival material. John was kind with his time, running the projector as we explored film of Sandburg from the 1920's to the 1960's. The films include moments only seen by family members from the 1920's and remarkably humorous and insightful material that we have not seen before from other television shows and interviews from the 1950's.

Just last week we were notified that we will receive a much needed grant from the Nebraska Humanities Council. This makes the Humanities Councils of North Carolina, Illinois and Nebraska all contributors to our film. A recent presentation before the Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara prompted some local press, see the article at this link.

Next year is the bicentennial celebration of Abraham Lincoln's birth and the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission is coordinating and supporting a very exciting year of events, some of which have already begun. They are currently reviewing material about our film to (hopefully) certify it as an officially supported project of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. Sandburg's work on Lincoln was arguably his most influential, leading millions of Americans to a better understanding of Lincoln and the Civil War. A recent event was held in Washington DC presenting poetry by and about Lincoln, including Sandburg's "Cool Tombs".

We continue to edit, research material and re-draft the script while we negotiate additional funding and partnerships to finish the film asap. Hopefully in 2009.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Editing begins on Sandburg film

The material is now quite overwhelming. Interviews with Helga Sandburg, Pete Seeger, Studs Terkel, Norman Corwin, Yevgeny Yevtushenko and almost a dozen other historians, scholars and poets and who have published extensively. They all have a unique view of Sandburg and an understanding of the 20th century far better than most folks. And still left to be interviewed is Sandburg's most thorough and modern biographer, Penelope Niven. Ms. Niven's interview has been intentionally delayed until this stage in the production so that her knowledge can be best applied to the film that has been germinating for the past five years.

As I read the transcripts and prepare to begin editing the film the task is daunting, but exciting. The story lines and anecdotes are numerous and illuminating, but they must be wrangled into a thread that sustains the viewer and delivers an engaging experience. If I were a quilter (I've known a few in my days) I suppose it would be like having a pattern but walking into the best fabric shop you can imagine and trying to pick out the patterns, colors and textures from a vast selection. This is where the film begins to take shape. This is where the hard decisions get made, and this is where the excitement really begins. Wish me luck, decisiveness and patience.