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Archive for Behind The Scenes

The Making of an AMERICAN EXPERIENCE Film


Just as the weather starts heating up, many offices start slowing down, but not here at AMERICAN EXPERIENCE! With five hours of new programming, including our epic two-part documentary on JFK premiering in the fall, our staff has been hard at work. In June alone we have already had five screenings for various films in different levels of production. While this has become old hat to everyone here on staff, we realize that our viewers may not always be aware of the process our films go through before they air.


Staff Favorite Films


This Fall, American Experience will celebrate its 25th anniversary. That's 25 years of documentaries broadcast on PBS -- 287 films, 399 hours of programming, and 428 nights of television. Everyone has a favorite, including all of us on staff at American Experience, and we want to share that with you. As part of our 25th anniversary celebration, we are going to publish a Staff Favorite Film blog post every month, starting today.


Abolitionist Map of America Project


In August, after moving to Boston, Massachusetts from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I started working for American Experience on the Abolitionist Map of America project -- an interactive map also featured on the brand new American Experience: Mapping History iPhone app. I grew up in Monticello, Mississippi, and I have always been fascinated by the history of the Civil Rights Movement -- how the efforts of a few individuals who recognized that it was time for change and progress led to one of the most significant social advancements in the history of this country. And I was thrilled to be working on this project, bringing awareness of the often forgotten heroes from the first Civil Rights movement in American history -- the abolitionist movement.


The Characters in The Abolitionists


When we first began the task of tackling the history of abolitionism four years ago, we were faced with a daunting task: the movement spanned decades, the leaders were numerous, the history complicated and the scholarly literature voluminous. And yet there was no book that told the overarching story of the abolitionists, and no guide for capturing the courage and struggles of these remarkable civil rights heroes. We decided that the way to grab the attention of a broad television audience was to focus on a handful of key characters -- that is, to create a character-driven mini-series set against the backdrop of a tumultuous time in American history.


Michael Dobbs on the Cuban Missile Crisis


Author and Journalist Michael Dobbs spoke with American Experience about the Cuban missile crisis, which began 50 years ago today, for our upcoming biography of JFK. Read his quotes about what President Kennedy knew and didn't know as the crisis unfolded.


Top 10 Pages on americanexperience.org in 2011


2011 was a great year for the AMERICAN EXPERIENCE website. Our huge stand-alone website for Freedom Riders featured the only comprehensive online list of all 400+ of the original 1961 Freedom Riders, along with a stellar 10-day live blogging experiment in May during which we posted 132 videos and 173 essays from the 2011 Student Freedom Ride. We created a really cool interactive that details the Panama Canal, posted some of America's first imaginative depictions of dinosaurs, and published several comprehensive timelines including Deadliest Workplace Accidents, U.S. Foreign Aid, and Milestones in the American Gay Rights Movement. But enough about what I liked! Let's get to the content that our users flocked to the most.

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