Recent TV trends suggest there are three key ingredients that will ensure broadcaster buy-in on a project: conflict (in front of the camera that is, not behind it), getting ‘real’ people to dress and behave like it’s another era, and focus on a seminal period in history.
The War That Made America, a mammoth US$10.8 million undertaking, is further proof the equation works. Spearheaded by Pittsburgh-based public broadcaster WQED Multimedia and French and Indian Wars 250, a public/private partnership, the four-hour series examines the French-Indian Wars (1754-1760). A sprawling conflict fought throughout northeastern North America, the war determined whether France or England won the right to exploit the continent’s natural bounty.
The doc, produced by Arlington, U.S.-based Spypond Productions and Boston’s Loeterman Productions, will center on events in the Ohio River Valley. It was there that European territorial ambitions – and those of a handful of First Nations tribes – converged to spark the conflict.
The production, shot in HD, will include extensive portrayals of everyday life in the wilds of the New World, including the construction of forts and trading posts, and the weapons and tactics employed by the combatants.
Planned ancillaries include a companion book, a web site, and comprehensive educational and outreach initiatives.
Funders include the Richard King Mellon Foundation, the Heinz Endowments and the Grable Foundation. The War is scheduled to be broadcast on PBS nation-wide late 2005. WQED is handling international distribution. MS