THE CONCEPT

“Our plan was that we were going to make Jefferson human, that this film was going to get past the icon and bring the man alive.” — Camilla Rockwell
 


Charles Willson Peale, Thomas Jefferson
Independence National Historic Park

  Ken Burns
Well, you want to make sure that your concept leaves room for the truth. Too often documentaries are expositions of already arrived ends. And we would prefer our films to be discoveries in and of themselves.

  Camilla Rockwell
Well, you have an idea of how you're going to approach it and what you imagine you're going to be able to do. And our plan was that we were going to make Jefferson human, that this film was going to get past the icon and bring the man alive. And we expressed that with great confidence in the beginning, and then discovered how difficult that was going to be.

  Geoffrey Ward
We talked a lot about the complexities of him and his sort of opaque surface which makes him a very challenging and interesting person to write about. Camilla Rockwell, who was the coproducer on the show, did an enormous amount of research, gathering quotes about Jefferson and by Jefferson, and arranging them so that I could you know pick and choose as I went along. It's a collaborative process, really, from the first.