Clearing The Decks

From time to time, I meet with my partner, Larry, and we toss documentary ideas at each other. Larry sits, taking notes furiously, and I wander around with a cup of coffee. "How about," I'll say, "a series on cities —how we lived yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and how the environment has changed, and what the changes do to the quality of our lives? Or we could do the divided cities—Beirut and Berlin, Jerusalem and Belfast. Or we could look at abandoned cities like Angkor Wat or Fattipur Sikhri. Then there are the rebuilt cities such as Tokyo or Coventry. And we could use material from the film Metropolis as a motif. Well, what do you think?"

Then it's Larry's turn: "I'd like to do Union Jack Over Eden, about the British writers and actors in Hollywood in the 1930s. There were hundreds of them, from Cary Grant to Boris Karloff. They even had a cricket team with David Niven and Erroll Flynn. And here's another idea: We take famous generals to the scenes of their battles and relive their experiences with them."

Of course, these are not just ideas of the moment. Our general reading and observation of politics and current events establishes a whole body of potential material in our minds. This material matures over time, so we bring to our programming sessions a series of ideas that have been developing and that we now want to try out on each other. Some of the ideas are old, some new. Often the old ideas suddenly became feasible because an external event makes them newsworthy. Thus, the Gujarat earthquake disaster rekindled my interest in cities, and the Rwandan atrocities re-awoke my interest in the subject of genocide.

Film Making

Film Making

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