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Scottsboro: An American Tragedy

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Behind the Scenes: Question 1

Tom Hurwitz
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Visually, when you approach a historical documentary as opposed to a feature film, are there differences in your approach or do you treat it much the same?

For features and for documentaries, the challenge is the same, I think, and it's that you have to tell a story with pictures. And that means that you use the elements of the picture, the lighting, the composition, the angle of the camera, to further the point in the story.

In shooting Scottsboro, the challenge was to take a subject that had already happened and in fact, was so daunting because there was such a minimum of recorded material about the case and do it in a way that people would want to watch and where the history could be made to live. I think evoking is one word that could describe what the challenge was.

[Producers] Danny [Anker] and Barak [Goodman], both were very clear that they wanted very strong images to evoke the time, evoke the feeling. I wasn't the only cameraman on the film. Buddy Squires was the other one and he did some beautiful work with a train which kind of - was the kind of central motif - visual motif that the film hung on.

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