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Ken Burns
Ken Burns

Ken Burns, the director and co-producer of "Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery," has been making award-winning documentary films for more than 25 years. In addition to the landmark PBS series "The Civil War," "Baseball," "The West," and "Jazz," Burns' other films include the Academy Award-nominated "Brooklyn Bridge" and "The Statue of Liberty," "The Shakers," "Huey Long," "Thomas Hart Benton," "The Congress," "Empire of the Air," "Thomas Jefferson," and, most recently, "Horatio's Drive."

If you'd like to learn a bit more about Ken, watch the following exclusive video interview.

(Note: If you have problems playing the media files, you may need to download the most current version of the Real Player here.)

Ken's Answers to Your Questions

Thanks to your participation, our forum with Ken turned out to be a rousing success. We received more than 1,000 e-mail questions, and chose seven questions for Ken to answer. The seven questions were selected because they were asked most frequently and were among more thought-provoking.

And now, Ken Burns.

1. What attracted you to make a documentary of the Lewis and Clark expedition? What draws you to a topic on which you decide to make a documentary? -- Dennis R. Powell, Los Alamos, NM

Listen to the Real Audio "More often than not the topic chooses me. That is to say that I see myself as an emotional archaeologist, looking into, not so much the dry dates and events of the past, but the emotional glue that makes those dry facts stick to us..."

2. How do you go about researching your subject matter and then turn it into manageable units of information? -- Barbara Holmes, Concord, MA

Listen to the Real Audio "Our research never stops. A lot of people say that you must have dozens and dozens of researchers. In fact, we have none..."

3. I love history. What was your favorite subject in school? I'm 15. I like the way you do your films. -- Paul Patterson, Kingswood, TX

Listen to the Real Audio "I love history too, but it was really, I was a really late bloomer and I remember doing well in American history and remember enjoying it..."

4. I was impressed that Lewis and Clark formed their party from rugged, plain folk. Watching your documentary, I almost felt that if I had been a contemporary of the two explorers, I might have been able to go along. Was it your intention to have the audience connect this way with the members of the Lewis and Clark expedition? -- Alex Calabrese, Buena, NJ

Listen to the Real Audio "Absolutely. I think that if you took a survey of everyone who hadn't seen the film or read Steven Ambrose's excellent book, [they would] their image of Lewis and Clark would be two explorers, their dog, and later on an Indian woman guiding them..."

5. I have enjoyed reading abut the journey of the Corps of Discovery, but it was very nice to see the actual landscapes. How difficult was it yo find scenary that was representative of each part of the voyage? -- Chuck DeLaTorre, Ann Arbor, MI

Listen to the Real Audio "This was a great challenge to us. Unlike our other films, when we had an ample amount of archival material..."

6. Last night I watched the first two hours of your Lewis and Clark film. It was terrific. I was disappointed, however, with one aspect. As in your films "The Civil War" and "Jefferson," I was struck by how few women you choose to film and interview as experts. As there is no shortage of women historians, why have you chosen to limit your panel of historical experts to mostly men? -- Mark Easter, Ft. Collins, CO

Listen to the Real Audio "It's just not the case. We quite often film dozens more interviews than we use and use the people who are most effective to tell our story..."

7. What was the best thing that happened to you during the filming of Lewis and Clark?
-- Andree Andersberg, Helena, MT

Listen to the Real Audio "The great gift of the Lewis and Clark production for me was the chance to get out and see my country in a fresh light..."

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