On Oct. 12, The Virginia Center for Civil War Studies (VCCWS) received a $350,000 grant from the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission to produce a one-of-a-kind three hour documentary on the Civil War.
Proposed by James Robertson, director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies and executive producer of the documentary, in a meeting of the commission, he submitted his proposal for this project. The commission agreed to provide the grant to support the production of the documentary.
"It's a good way for sesquicentennial commemoration," said Cheryl Jackson, Project Manager and Staff Coordinator. In this documentary the VCCWS will reinvent and improve upon past documentaries on the Civil War. It will be organized into nine different segments that will be twenty minutes each.
One section will be on the coming of the war, three on military affairs, one on African Americans and their role, one on prominent leaders, one on common soldiers, and one on the home front.
The final section will be on the legacy of the Civil War.
"This is different than we've ever done in the past," said Jim Hammerstrom, film director from Blue Ridge Public Broadcasting Station. "(It's) more comprehensive than we've done."
In order to keep up with current demands and evolving technology, the documentary will be filmed in high definition over the entirety of the Virginia commonwealth. It will also include aerial views provided by low flying helicopters. Different sections and events will be filmed in corresponding seasons in order to provide more accurate views of the past. "This is a first-class operation," Robertson said. Along with the different imagery provided by the film crew, "talking heads" will be utilized to provide historical accounts.
Historians will also be talking at the different sites around the commonwealth. Hundreds of maps, charts and moving diagrams will also be used to portray different aspects of the war. "Usually kids today respond better to visual stimulation," Hammerstrom said. "They absorb knowledge through visuals better." Upon completion of the documentary in 2009, it will be distributed free of charge to every public and private school, library and archive in the commonwealth. Hammerstrom felt it was important to provide this documentary to students to provide an in-depth look at the Civil War. "We hope to spark the interest of students and teachers and (we hope) students will benefit by having a greater appreciation of American history in general, especially the Civil War," Robertson said. Filming is set to begin in early 2008 and end in August of 2009. Costs for the documentary will be fully covered by the $350,000 grant provided to the VCCWS. It will be made in part to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.