Arts & Entertainment
Lesson time 09:30 min
Using pages from The Vietnam War and The Roosevelts, Ken walks you through the process of tracking a VO session and directing talent.
On the afternoon of May 21st, a local photographer named Frances Craver noticed a dust cloud appearing over the Doric Theatre in downtown Elkhart, Kansas. [SHUTTER CLICK] He grabbed his camera and chronicled the storm's descent, which caused the high school to cancel commencement ceremonies planned for that evening. [SHUTTER CLICK] - The narrator is one of the most important forces in the film, and, you hope, one of the most invisible. That person has to be really good, and so confident that they've earned your trust early on. And so they're just guiding you through. They're the ones that allow you to put on your blinders. And they're going to make sure that you don't trip and fall. And that's what happens. And I've worked with some great, great narrators. But I think the best has been Peter Coyote. I've never met a person who can come to words cold and create separation between every single word, which means that the word-- and therefore its meaning-- is isolated, and to do so in just a handful of takes. For the most part, you can hand Peter a block of narration, as we call it. It could be one line. It could be several paragraphs. It could be a page and a half. And he'll read it. And more often than not-- with the exception of the intro-- we're taking take one or take two or take three. And more often than not, we're dividing it up. I'm taking "we hold these truths to be self evident" from take one, "that all men are created equal" from take seven, "that they are endowed by their creator" from take 10, "with certain unalienable rights" from back to take one, "that are life, liberty." And I've divided each one of those words-- four, five, and six, or four, 11, and 13-- "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." I mean, that's the kind of stuff we want to get. It's got to be perfect. It has to be perfect. They have to inhabit the words. And they also have to say it in a way in which they find the right voice, so they're not advertising it. It is not-- as John Chancellor first started to read in "Baseball"-- in 1909, a man named Charles Hercules Ebbets began secretly buying up adjacent parcels of land in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. He goes-- in 1909, a man named Charles Hercules Ebbets began secretly buying up adjacent parcels of land in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. Then you have a story. Then you lean in. And he understood it. He said to me, when I had broken the back of the broadcasters habits, he said, oh, you want me to be God's stenographer, which is the best thing I can say, besides inhabiting the words. JOHN CHANCELLOR: In 1909, a man named Charles Hercules Ebbets began secretly buying up adjacent parcels of land in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, including the site of a garbage dump called Pigtown, because of the pigs that once ate their fill there and the stench that still filled the air. [MUSIC PLAYING] - One of the things I did from the very beginning is I tempered the ...
Since its 2017 debut, Ken Burns’s The Vietnam War has enthralled over 39 million viewers by painting an intimate and revealing portrait of history. In this online film class, learn how Ken captivates audiences with his ability to distill vast research and complex truths into compelling narratives. From first treatment to final edit, Ken teaches his documentary filmmaking techniques that “wake the dead” to bring their stories to life.
I have learned that there is much to do before beginning my first documentary film.
An amazing guide for people that like me, are trying to organize the ideas that permit us to made real our film, has given me a lot of ideas to make my documentary film the right way.
Ken Bruns personality inspires me depply. I love his mindset to use storytelling to show relevant issues, invite into a conversation and building real connection. I got a good understanding of his workflow and can take parts to apply them in my work.
Always admired Ken's work and now have a stronger desire to pursue my own filmmaking dreams. Thank you so much Ken AND the Masterclass community!!!