In 1978 I produced a half-hour movie entitled "Since '45," as my master's thesis at Boston University. I wanted to give a very personal view of what had transpired during the previous thirty years and frame it in an interesting way, with some magic and mystery to it.
The resulting film, "Since '45," presented a personal retrospective record of the years 1945 through 1979 of American cultural history and its relationship with modern media -- how it reports, portrays, impacts, and, in some cases, influences events. It was done in a dramatic format, with me serving as a mildly neurotic guide through various social eras contained in an unpredictable house of history.
The film went on to win the Student Academy Award for Best Documentary, was screened at FILMEX and the New York Film Festival. It was nationally televised on PBS (Jim Lehrer's "U.S. Chronicle" series), Showtime, and Discovery Channel. It continues to be shown worldwide.
Since the film was released, another thirty years have passed. Compared to the change in media and its impact on history between 1945 and 1979, the change between 1980 and 2012 has been exponential. Both history and the future, two areas "Since '45" covered, once again aren't what they used to be.
In the original "Since '45" the look and feel of recent American history, cultural mores, and media technology dictated both content and style as the show progressed. For instance, the film was in black and white until the timeline came to the mid 60s when the major networks went full color.
We'll shoot and incorporate digital technology for interviews, for more sophisticated transitions and beautiful time capsule collages.
Since '45X (Since '45 In The Extraordinary House of History) will be a teaching tool, like the original (which was screened in classrooms all over the world), for today's students of media, film, history, and technology. And, like the original film, our main personnel are students or graduates of the Bellevue College in Seattle, where I now teach.
Since '45x is the quintessential media analysis for the millennium. Taking off from where the short award winning documentary ended (in 1980) this documentary examines all aspects of media and its influence on society. Specifics include the entertainment industry and how the conversion from analog to digital has not only changed the distribution of media, but also the content itself and how it is monetized. How news media has shifted in hundreds of ways including delivering and receiving content from millions via pocket devices, and how news channels compete for viewers through more attractive packaging including anchors and louder and less objective programming.
Since '45x will delve into the shift in the definitions of 'fame/infamy' with the onslaught of Reality TV, how broader distribution mediums make it easier to become (in)famous [think Rebecca Black via YouTube], and the complete assimilation of society to the addiction that is social media [Facebook, Twitter] and Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games [World of Warcraft, SIMS].
Harder hitting topics will include how Americans lives are being invaded by targeted advertising, subliminal political influence, and whether society is indeed being 'dumbed down' by its own desire for less intelligent content [think Jackass, and Jackass 2, and Jackass 3D...] Even War has been influenced by media, including CNN broadcasting the beginning of Desert Storm as tanks rolled and missiles with forward facing cameras flew in through windows, how billions tuned in on September 11th to hear about a fire reported at the World Trade Center only to witness live as the second plane hit, and how the Egyptian revolution was coordinated via cellphones.
The analysis itself will be presented through the opinions of the experts in their fields including Producers, Directors, Actors & Actresses, Media Moguls, News Anchors, Digital Effects Artists, Media Programmers, Scientists, Inventors, Critics, Software Developers and many others. We are now in the production phase of the expanded version of Since 45x. Some of the following people were interviewed for the original production:
- RICHARD ROVERE, writer (The New Yorker), helped expose Senator Joseph McCarthy
- ROBERT KLEIN (comedian, actor)
- ISAAC ASIMOV (writer, scientist)
- ROBERT NORTHSHIELD (Producer of Huntley Brinkley News, and Sunday Morning on CBS)
- ART BUCHWALD (political columnist)
- JAMES KILPATRICK (conservative news commentator, 60 Minutes)
- CONGRESSMAN CHARLES RANGLE
- LINDA ELLERBEE (news commentator, first woman reporter to report from Congress)
- TOM O'HORGAN (Broadway Producer - Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar)
- HELEN THOMAS (journalist, White House Correspondent)
- GILDA RADNER (Actress, comedienne)
- TOM SKERRITT, Actor
- RONNY COX, Actor, Musician
- SAID FARAJ, Actor (The Green Zone)
- TOM FURNESS, Human Interface Technology Researcher, one of the creators of VR
- CURTIS WONG, Information Researcher, online documentary writer, Microsoft
- MORRIS RUSKIN, Film Producer, CEO, Shoreline Entertainment
- PHILIP HODGETTS, Media Technologist
- KEVIN BURNS, TV Producer, reality show The Girls Next Door
- ROBERT HARVEY, Executive VP, Panavision, Inc.
- SCOTT CONRAD, Academy Award-winning film editor
- ELIZA ROBERTS, Actress, Casting Director
- EVERETT BURRELL, Special Effects Supervisor (Pan's Labyrinth)
- OLESYA RULIN, Actress (High School Musical)
- ANDREW SUGARMAN, Film Producer (Conviction)
- NINA SADOWSKI, Producer (House of Sand and Fog)
- SERGIO ARAGONES, Comic Artist 1962 at MAD Magazine, and still there
- MIKE MIGNOLA comic writer and artist (Hellboy) and screenwriter)
- LUCAS GRABEEL, Actor (High School Musical, Milk)
- DAMON ELLIOTT, Musician, Composer, Music Producer (for Beyonce and JLo)
We are heading down to LA in late March to conduct some more interviews and then, hopefully, heading to New York City and Washington, D.C., for interviews with news people and politicians. Once the film is completed sometime next year, we will pursue film festivals, perhaps PBS, and distribution, particularly to schools and colleges.