The Filmmaker as Collaborator: A Conversation with Ken Burns and Friends

Monday, August 20, 2018

Location Amphitheater

$40 • General Admission
Gate pass valid from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
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Ken Burnsdocumentary filmmaker
Dayton Duncan, documentary filmmaker, author
Geoffrey C. Ward, author, scriptwriter

We launch our week on storytelling, influence and civil discourse with a panel conversation convened by Emmy Award-winning and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Ken Burns. Collaborating to produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made, the panelists will explore the art of storytelling through documentary film as well as the process of film production — lessons learned, boundaries crossed and aspirations for the future.

Longtime collaborators confirmed for this program include Geoffrey C. Ward and Dayton Duncan.

Ken Burnsdocumentary filmmaker

For almost 40 years Ken Burns has produced and directed some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made, creating an impressive collection about the people and events that molded our history. His films have garnered him 15 Emmy Awards and two Oscar nominations, and in September 2008, at the News & Documentary Emmy Awards, Burns was honored by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

His many films include “The Civil War,” “Baseball,” “Jazz,” “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” “The Central Park Five,” “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History,” and, most recently, “The Vietnam War,” a 10-part, 17-and-a-quarter-hour documentary series directed by Burns and Lynn Novick, and written by Geoffrey C. Ward. “The Vietnam War” aired on PBS in September 2017.

Future projects include films on the history of country music and Ernest Hemingway.

Dayton Duncan, documentary filmmaker, author

Dayton Duncan is an award-winning writer and documentary filmmaker and author of 12 books, including several companion books to films he wrote and produced with Ken Burns.

Duncan has served as the co-writer and consulting producer for “The West,” writer and producer of “Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery,” co-writer and producer for “Mark Twain,” and writer and producer of “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” for which he won two Emmy Awards. Duncan’s most recent film with Burns is “The Dust Bowl”; his script won a Spur Award and was nominated for an Emmy. Duncan has served as a consultant or consultant producer on all of Burns’ other documentaries, beginning with “The Civil War.” He is now at work with Burns as writer and producer of a major series on the history of country music, tentatively scheduled for release in 2019.

In politics, Duncan served as chief of staff to New Hampshire Gov. Hugh Gallen; deputy national press secretary for Walter Mondale’s presidential campaign in 1984; and national press secretary for Michael Dukakis’ 1988 presidential campaign. He has served as chair of the American Heritage Rivers Advisory Committee on the board of the National Park Foundation.

Geoffrey C. Ward, author, scriptwriter

Geoffrey C. Ward has collaborated with Ken Burns since 1984, and has been the sole or principal scriptwriter for 17 films, including “The Civil War,” “Baseball,” “Not For Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton And Susan B. Anthony,” “Jazz,” “Mark Twain,” “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History” and “The Vietnam War.” Ward also wrote or co-wrote companion volumes for eight of these series, and the author of six other award-winning books, including A First-Class Temperament: The Emergence of Franklin Roosevelt, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Prior to his work in documentary films, Ward was senior picture editor at Encyclopedia Britannica, founding editor of Audience magazine and managing editor and editor of American Heritage. For 14 years he wrote a monthly column for American Heritage called “The Life and Times.” 

Ward was the principal or sole writer of a number of programs in PBS’ American Experience series. He has won two Writers’ Guild Awards, seven Christopher Awards, and seven Emmy Awards, as well as the Writers Guild’s Ian McClellan Hunter Award for Career Achievement in Writing. He is currently at work on a series on Ernest Hemingway with Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.