Friday, March 7, 2008

What's Next?

This is the question that I'm hearing now that Currier & Ives: Perspectives on America has debuted on WGBY. That's television for you! You work for months on something, it's over in a blur, and it can be a memory before the next morning. I'm ecstatic to report that this project is different. The series has "legs" - that is, it will have life long after the initial broadcast on February 25, 2008. First, it will be rebroadcast on WGBY several times. It is also intended to be a longtime community resource made available to schools, libraries, and museums. Finally, it is likely to be distributed nationally for broadcast on PBS stations across the country in the Fall/Winter of 2008! I am in that process now and it is top priority.

But let me back up for a moment and talk about the broadcast premiere. I watched the premiere on a large HD television with the videographer of the series, Mark Langevin, along with his fabulous wife, Chris Cronin. Mark has always gone above and beyond the call of duty for this project and he has become a friend as well as a great professional partner. It was both exciting and gratifying to see all 3 parts on the air rather than watching it piecemeal in an edit booth! Unfortunately, new technology is not without its glitches and on a high definition television, there was pixilation during some black and white photo images. We're working to eliminate the problem before the rebroadcasts. Most folks who watched it in standard definition tell me they did not notice the problem. The feedback on the series has been terrific. Viewers tell me they simply had no idea the name meant more than Christmas cards and calendars!

Let me take this time to acknowledge the great work of WGBY's Senior Editor, Ray Laferriere. Ray gave 110% to the series, really caring about content and the look. It can be challenging to work in one dark room with one person for close to 3 months on one topic. It can be even more challenging for one editor to work with hundreds of still images, as opposed to video. Without assistance, Mr. Laferriere created all of the time-consuming moves that made the Currier & Ives prints come to life. Throughout, he was a joy to work with and I think we became an even better team as time passed. Two weeks out of the dark editing cave, I find I miss it--and Ray!

I'll be back there briefly next month because the series will have to be substantially trimmed for its potential national broadcast. We'll also pull some short clips from all three episodes to add to the website. The website, attention-starved during the edit, is getting scrutinized and I'm making updates and revisions, as well as adding new features geared toward children and educators. It's, by the way. Check out the new animation of the prints on the home page!

We continue making presentations of the documentaries in the community. I spoke to audiences in Amherst and Easthampton this week and I really enjoyed the questions. It's interesting to talk about the shows after they've been viewed on WGBY, rather than talking about what's coming up. The questions seem to center more on the research and interviews I did leading up to the editing. Also, now folks often want to learn finer details of subjects just touched upon during the television programs.

So while it has been a wonderful project, the broadcast doesn't mean it's over, not by a long shot! Don't forget that this is an expansive educational partnership and the documentary is just its centerpiece. The partners (WGBY, Springfield Museums, The Republican's Newspaper in Education, the Community Colleges of GreaterSpringfield, and the Springfield Public Schools) have a Teacher Workshop coming up, a conference with local colleges, and Currier & Ives-themed contests for students at the Springfield Public Schools.

Oh, and cross your fingers for national distribution. After all, this is an American story and should be seen throughout the country! I'll keep you posted.