Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Gettysburg as You Have Never Seen It

Filming The Gettysburg Story

The George Meade equestrian statue at night.
Over the course of the previous summer and fall, I had the pleasure of assisting documentarian Jake Boritt and his talented team of filmmakers produce The Gettysburg Story, an upcoming documentary being nationally syndicated by Maryland Public Television.  Having seen much of the footage already, I can say with certainty that the production values and cinematography will amaze you.  Implementing cutting edge technology to convey a generations-old saga, you will see the battlefield as you have never seen it before.  As I type, the film's crew is engaged in a fundraising campaign to put the finishing touches on the production so it can be broadcast in time for the 150th anniversary of the battle this summer.  As an added bonus, you too can play a role in making this happen.  Check out the details below to find out how.

Trailer and filmmaker introduction for The Gettysburg Story.  

Prepare to experience the Battle of Gettysburg as you have never seen or learned of it before.  Director Jake Boritt’s The Gettysburg Story will offer audiences a vivid and emotional journey into the past, presenting viewers battlefield perspectives yet to be explored on film.  The gripping documentary dramatically tells the history of the greatest battle fought on American soil by implementing stunning high definition aerial and time lapse cinematography. Take in breathtaking bird’s eye views of the hallowed ground and become enraptured with the intense human drama of the desperate struggle.  

Stephen Lang and Jake Boritt during filming on Little Round Top.
The film is narrated by acclaimed actor Stephen Lang, best known for his powerful roles in Avatar, Terra Nova, Tombstone, and General George Pickett in Gettysburg.  You too can play a role in bringing this film to fruition.  While principal filming and photography is complete, we need your help to add the finishing touches on this unique production.  In the ongoing weeks, we will be hosting an online Kickstarter campaign that allows you to invest contributions large or small.  You will not only be providing for a fresh and worthy project of historical importance, but great prizes will also be awarded throughout the campaign.

But first, let us tell you more of this exciting film.  In the opening scenes we view the fog-covered valleys and fields of Maryland and Pennsylvania, learning of Robert E. Lee’s desperate invasion plan to achieve Confederate independence.   Little does Lee know that the Union’s Army of the Potomac is hot in pursuit.  The destinies of both armies and a nation at war with itself will be determined in an unassuming crossroads town in southern Pennsylvania.  The formerly quiet community of Gettysburg will become the killing stage for over 160,000 men—each with their own visions and dreams for their respective causes.

Produced with cooperation from the 6,000 acre Gettysburg National Military Park, the battle’s immense story comes alive visually thanks to cutting edge technology such as remote-controlled skycams.  Dynamic and evocative aerial imagery of legendary places of the battlefield offer viewers scenery both encompassing and deeply personal.  Charge up Little Round Top with regiments of rugged Texans.  Find yourself immersed in the smoky confusion of the Wheatfield with Confederate Captain George Hillyer.  Mourn with the personal loss of Patrick Taylor of Minnesota.  Walk in the footsteps of the common infantryman while never being far removed from the larger strategic decisions of George Meade, James Longstreet, and Winfield Scott Hancock.

Me helping out with the dynamic time lapse cinematography along Hancock Avenue.
Even while the film concentrates on troop movements and the chaos of battle, our film strongly recognizes the fact that the conflict is also a story of common people, ideals, and monumental human struggle.  In the documentary, learn how a single bullet tragically cut short the life of twenty-year-old Jennie Wade, who was hoping to be married in the following months.  Hear the compelling saga of how part of Pickett’s Charge was repulsed on the humble farm of a free African American named Abraham Bryan.  Enter the horrific scenes of army field hospitals with Sallie Myers, who becomes an impromptu nurse despite her own aversion to the sight of blood.  The intention of our project is to convey a sense of emotion and relevance on a level that is rarely experienced on film.

Stephen Lang and creative cinematography together tell the story of free African American Abraham Bryan.

The climactic tribute in the documentary is Lincoln’s immortal and universal Gettysburg Address.  Realize the full scope of heroism and loss as our cameras dramatically sweep over the 3,500 graves the president dedicated with his everlasting oratory.  Gain a greater appreciation, in the words of Joshua Chamberlain, “where and by whom great things were suffered and done” for our benefit.  Stephen Lang’s lively narration keeps the pulse of the film beating with electrifying suspense and reverence.  Civil War era music interpreted with 21st century sensibility and technology offers a unique reexamination of the melodies that inspired the 1860s generation.

Meanwhile, motion graphic animations dynamically explain troop movements and military strategies employed in the three day clash. Guided by advisers such as bestselling scholar Gabor Boritt, the film is a testament to historical scholarship blended with artistic expression.  The history and the land speak as one in this unique visual and aural interpretation of The Gettysburg Story.

A wide variety of gifts and rewards are available to those interested in making contributions for the film’s final touches.  Gifts include the film soundtrack, DVDs, books, prints, private screenings, and even personal battlefield tours led by the Boritts.  Won’t you help us tell this all-important story?

Jared Frederick and Stephen Lang on the Boritt Farm in Gettysburg.

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