Stories, Musings & The Vision Thing

Ken Burns on Story

Sarah Klein
Tom Mason

Okay, you’re a filmmaking team and you have this really cool idea. Do a passion project and make a video about a subject you really care about. Story-telling. It’s a lot harder than it looks – we’re talking non-fiction here – and something you and a lot of other creatives struggle with all the time.  So who do you know who’s a good storyteller? How about Ken Burns?  Okay, you do an interview and ask him to tell you all about it.  

So you get it done. Then back home and look at what you have. It’s 90 minutes of Ken Burns talking. Well, he may be a documentary superstar, but it’s not a film and it’s certainly not a story. So now what? Make it happen in post. And you do. Here’s the very effective result:


If the video doesn’t play, click here.  


The production is the work of cameraman/editor Tom Mason and producer Sarah Klein, aka Redglass Pictures. Their piece is graceful, spare and intimate. I like how the music draws you in and creates flow. And the pacing – the pauses help you connect with what’s being said and also build a quiet tension. The Tom and Sarah introduce a film projector metaphor to help bridge the ideas and treat the stills to give them more depth literally and figuratively.    

The length feels right – long enough to explore a few ideas, delve into the personal side, leave an impact and be done.  It helps you see the creative challenges we all face as we bring shape and meaning to our work. And a little insight into what motivates Ken Burns, too.

Atlantic Magazine has a short interview with the filmmakers here.  If you want to know more about them you can visit their website. If you do, check out their video “Miracle on 22nd Street.” And if you want to learn how this project came to be, there’s a podcast interview that’s very informative here.

Tom Mason described their creative process as “stumbling in the dark.”  Perhaps.  But as their work reveals, with enough care and time you’ll find a way to let your light shine.





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1 Comment

  1. Awesome film!

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