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In The Can

trip to the border at Campo, California - 75This is a quick update to note that we have wrapped post-production on Episode One. We're pleased with the results and are now entering the hardest phase of the project, getting it out to the world, securing funds for continuing, and promotion. We'll have news as it develops about these efforts. Thanks everyone who has been involved and interested.

Getting the Look Right; Getting Truth Right

For the last couple of months work has been proceeding on color-correction and color-grading.
Color Grading Truth On The Line
Using Apple's Color software, the correction is straightforward, simply fixing the minor discrepencies in light and exposure that the different shots occasionally have. Then there's color grading, which is actually creating a "Look" for some of the scenes. In TOTL there are really 3 looks: the news show, behind the scenes at the studio, and scenes in the "outer world". Grading the scenes is a matter of sorting the scenes into these categories and coming up for an interesting, distinct look in terms of color and contrast and brightness.

I've also just recently read "Everything Is Illuminated", the first novel by young literary wunderkind Jonathan Safran Foer. It's a heart-wrenching story of a jewish village in Ukraine utterly destroyed by the Nazis, and a young man 50 years later trying to find traces of his relatives there.

The thing that makes it relevant to TOTL is that the story is in the form of alternating sections, some written by Jonathan, and some written by the Ukrainian translator who he hires to help him find the village. The translator, Alex, writes his sections of the book and letters to Jonathan in which he discusses what he thinks of Jonathan's chapters and the corrections and changes Jonathan asks him to make to his chapters. In one passage he questions some of the poetic license they are taking with reality:

We are being very nomadic with the truth, yes? The both of us? Do you think that this is acceptable when we are writing about things that occurred? If your answer is no, then why do you write about Trachimbrod and your grandfather in the manner that you do, and why do you command me to be untruthful? If your answer is yes, then this creates another question, which is if we are to be such nomads with the truth, why do we not make the story more premium than life? It seems to me that we are making the story even inferior. We often make ourselves appear as though we are foolish people, and we make our voyage, which was an ennobled voyage, appear very normal and second rate. We could give your grandfather two arms, and could make him high-fidelity. We could give Brod what she deserves in the stead of what she gets... it could be perfect and beautiful, and funny, and usefully sad, as you say... I do not think that there are any limits to how excellent we could make life seem.

I find this fascinating, especially given that the novel is based on Foer's actual trip to Ukraine, but only very very loosely based - he explains in an interview how unremarkable and unsuccessful the real trip was, and the nonfiction book he attempted to write about the experience just was not working.

I did not intend to write Everything Is Illuminated. I intended to chronicle, in strictly nonfictional terms, a trip that I made to Ukraine as a 22-year-old. Armed with a photograph of the woman who, I was told, had saved my grandfather from the Nazis, I embarked on a journey to Trachimbrod, the shtetl of my family's origins. The comedy of errors lasted five days. I found nothing but nothing, and in that nothing - a landscape of completely realized absence - nothing was to be found.... It took me a week to finish the first sentence. In the remaining month, I wrote 280 pages. What made beginning so difficult, and the remainder so seemingly automatic, was imagination - the initial problem, and ultimate liberation, of imagining. My mind wanted to wander, to invent, to use what I had seen as a canvas, rather than the paints. But, I wondered, is the Holocaust exactly that which cannot be imagined? What are one's responsibilities to "the truth" of a story, and what is "the truth"? Can historical accuracy be replaced with imaginative accuracy? The eye with the mind's eye?

He opted for this more experimental, more... extrapolated form, in order to get at what Werner Herzog calls the Ecstatic Truth. But even so, he did not go past a certain point. He didn't make everything perfect.

The novel's two voices - one "realistic," the other "folkloric" - and their movement toward each other, has to do with this problem of imagination. The Holocaust presents a real moral quandary for the artist. Is one allowed to be funny? Is one allowed to attempt verisimilitude? To forgo it? What are the moral implications of quaintness? Of wit? Of sentimentality? What, if anything, is untouchable?

With the two very different voices, I attempted to show the rift that I experienced when trying to imagine the book. (It is the most explicit of many rifts in the book.) And with their development toward each other, I attempted to heal the rift, or wound.

So Close! Kinda! No Really! Kinda.

It's been awhile since we've posted news of the process of making Truth On The Line. This post is about where the TOTL project is at but also the meta issue of how communication is done between creators and "fans" of work like this.

We like to promote and support other great creative projects. Kickstarter is a great way to do this and we've thrown down a little green toward a small number of worthy efforts - not a lot of money, just enough to say "hey, I care, you're cool, send me a t-shirt". We've been following with great attention the progress of one microbudget film that we helped fund, and were struck by a recent update from the filmmakers:

It is taking longer than we had originally planned, but that's because we are working very hard to make this the best film possible, and that takes a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot of commitment. It has slowed down the process, but we feell (sic) like we are producing a much better movie as we take our time with production. But we are close!

What struck us about this? Well, the cynical, old, tired part of us was struck by the sheer innocence and freshness and, frankly, lack of originality of this rather, frankly, cliched justification for production delays. Doesn't everybody know, already, that making "the best film possible" involves "a lot of effort" and "commitment"?

A less jaded part of us, though, respects this honest, though probably incomplete, attempt to keep everyone posted and placated. ...Read more>>>

Truth On The Line teaser clip

Truth On The Line Teaser

This is a brief look at some moments from Truth On The Line's pilot episode, which is in post-production and planned for completion this summer. more information at

Note that in this teaser there are some post-production rough spots, especially the audio and color correction. Thanks for your patience and imagination in filling in the blanks!

Post-Production Proceeding

This is an exciting time in the creation of the Truth On the Line pilot episode.
Truth On The Line framegrab boards #2

We have a first assembly rough cut and the story is finally all there together. But of course there is still lots of work at the edit suite left to do. Alternate takes and shots must be assessed, sound must be cleaned, music selected, graphics needs to be generated and placed, and color correction will be necessary.

From the beginning of post, 5 large "frame grab boards" have hung on the wall of the edit room. These boards are a practice inspired by famed editor Walter Murch. Each camera set up in the show is represented by one or more printed still photos, arranged roughly in shot order. As we work, the boards on the wall provide a quick and easy visual representation of the project and what material is available to us.

This week has been a busy time of meetings with department heads and trusted advisors. Decisions and discussions that will determine the shape and future of the show are underway.

As we go forward from here, we'll also ramp up our efforts to get the word out about this project and start talking with interested allies. Expect to see more and more activity on this website as the final cut approaches! To be sure you stay up to date, be sure to get on the mailing list (on the front page of the web site) or join the facebook group if you're reading this there. ...Read more>>>

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