Paladin Production Odds & Ends
Robert's Rule of Order
Remember: right to left and left to right. This was the mantra for three years of shooting, and it often drove the cameramen crazy. Through the course of both movies, the French always move left to right onscreen when they are the aggressors. The British (including GW) always move right to left as they quest for the Forks of the Ohio. There's a method to this madness: many in the audience find the action of battles and troop movements confusing. The armies look alike; they both wear funny uniforms and tricorne hats. Continuity in the onscreen movements of the empires helps bring order to the situation, and allows the casual observer to make subconscious sense of who is doing what to whom. Likewise, the French Indians move left to right as they attack, and the English Indians move right to left. Keep this in mind as you watch the movies. There are only two exceptions to this rule: in one shot GW's redcoats sneak up on Jumonville left to right (it was a cool shot, and we didn't want to mess with it); and the Battle of Lake George features British firing left to right, and French firing right to left (we figured since it was a different theater of operations, it didn't matter). When the British are retreating (and they retreated a lot in the French & Indian War), they are always doing it left to right because they're no longer moving toward the Forks of the Ohio (which is always to the left of frame); they're moving away from it.
Notes on Producing When the Forest Ran Red
Our vision all along included historians filmed in exterior locations that reflected the wilderness faced by all participants in the "clash of empires." This wasn't so easily accomplished, however, and our experience shows why so few interviews seen in TV documentaries are shot outside. Airplanes are often flying overhead in this day and age, and this "busts" many takes. Passing cars, trucks, and motorcycles--and the sounds of nearby people talking or playing--also devil the sound man. Shooting historians out of doors proved to be one of our major production challenges. That said ...
We did not film Fred Anderson in Pennsylvania where the action he describes took place ... we shot him in the forest above Boulder, Colorado in the Rocky Mountains in July, 2000 for When the Forest Ran Red, and in August 2001 for George Washington's First War. This second interview took place during an intense forest fire season, with a scout plane circling overhead every so often, looking for fires.
Dr. Anderson is a graduate of Harvard University.
We did not film R. David Edmunds in Pennsylvania either...we shot him on the campus of the University of Texas at Dallas for When the Forest Ran Red in October, 2000 in the only green exterior backdrop of a noisy concrete jungle.
Dr. Edmunds is part Cherokee Indian.
Another "talking head" interview posed problems: shooting Andrew E. Masich, President and CEO of the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania and visionary of the Senator John Heinz Regional History Center in Pittsburgh. We shot Andy in late December 2000 with snow on the ground and the temperature far below freezing. In the film, he stands in front of a log cabin with sun dappling through trees. What you don't see is that we shot this interview indoors at the History Center, where a cabin had been recreated on the second floor. Crew dragged in a 15-foot potted tree and aimed a light through it at the wall of the cabin. Voila! Exteriors in December.
Scenics of the Braddock Road and the mountains crossed by Braddock's army were shot on film in 2000 and 2001 using an Arriflex SR3 camera. Several scenes were shot in Ohiopyle State Park, others deep in the mountains on remaining road traces, and still others along paved portions of the Braddock Road between the site of Dunbar's Camp and the small town of Dunbar PA (the site of Gist's Plantation).
The National Park Service graciously provided access to Fort Necessity, Braddock's Grave, and the Jumonville Glen for our productions.
The Monongahela River as seen in When the Forest Ran Red was filmed on a beautiful August day in 2000 near sunset just outside of, appropriately enough, the city of Monongahela PA. Civilization (houses) were carefully blocked out, and what you don't see is a motorboat that would roar into and out of view, trailing a water skier behind it, as we tried to shoot. The site is approximately 20 miles by river south of the site of Braddock's Defeat, but uncannily resembles the twin-peaked hills at the battlefield.
A trace of the battlefield of Braddock's Defeat remains in the borough of North Braddock , PA. We shot there (the scene is accompanied by the narrator's line, …”It is the perfect place for an ambush…”). More footage shot at the site of the battle can be seen in Bonus Features found on the Special Edition When the Forest Ran Red DVD.
The gleaming statue of young George Washington featured in When the Forest Ran Red is located on the battlefield in downtown Braddock PA, very near the spot where Washington and Braddock spent most of the battle, and where Braddock was wounded. The statue was erected in 1930 for the 175th battle anniversary with pennies gathered in a campaign by the town's school children. The day we shot the statue, in June 2001, an elderly gentleman approached us, watched the shooting for a while, and then mentioned with a prideful smile that he had been one of those ambitious school children in 1930.
Gen. Braddock's sash and pistol were shot at the Senator John Heinz Regional History Center in November 2000. The sash, used by Washington and others to bear Braddock from the battlefield, is owned by the Mt. Vernon Ladies Association and usually on display at Mt. Vernon. Braddock's bloodstains had soaked into the cloth, and they are clearly visible when viewing the sash; the stains were filmed in closeup for When the Forest Ran Red. Gen. Braddock's pistol, which Washington carried along with the sash throughout the Revolution, was on loan from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. This beautifully preserved weapon bears a metal plate with the ornamental engraving EB above the handle. Rich Schutte rack-focused to the engraving in a closeup seen in When the Forest Ran Red. Thank goodness we were shooting film that day; video would not have done justice to these incredible artifacts.
No official oil portrait of General Edward Braddock is known to exist.
Battle scenes appearing in both films were shot over a three-year period at Jumonville (near Uniontown) PA, Cook's Forest PA, Cross Creek County Park PA, Fort Meigs in northwestern OH, the Daniel Boone Homestead east of Harrisburg PA, and a private site in central Ohio.
Cross Creek Park, Washington County, PA. October 18, 2003. The trenches of Fort Necessity were created in a hilltop meadow on a When the Forest Ran Red Special Edition shoot. Lt.-Col. George Washington (Bryan Cunning, right) surveys the action as his Virginians and Carolinians defend the fort from attacking French forces. It was a beautiful day for production, and we had the smoke machines going, and stunt men flying, to create realistic action.
Ft. Meigs, Ohio. August 2003. Grenadiers from the 1st Regt of Foot, from the Detroit area and also Canada, lend their expertise to a recreation of the opening moments of Braddock's Defeat. We shot on the hottest day of the year, but captured Grenadier action and also open-field battles including lighthorse (cavalry). These scenes provided an epic feel to the Special Edition When the Forest Ran Red DVD. We very much appreciate the outstanding cooperation of the staff at Ft. Meigs, a superb Ohio state facility near Toledo.
Notes on Producing George Washington's First War
Paul Kopperman and Stephen Brumwell were shot in November 2002 near the site of Dunbar 's Camp. Filming was to take place outdoors as per all previous appearances by historians, but the first snow flurries of the season and bitter winds (more bad news for sound) drove the crew inside to a rustic (and hastily assembled) set. The footage shot that day was incorporated into both George Washington's First War the the Special Edition When the Forest Ran Red.
John Mohawk and Yvonne Dion-Buffalo, both professors at the State University of New York (SUNY), were shot at the SUNY Buffalo campus in late October 2002. The SUNY/Buffalo interviews posed a great challenge for Director of Photography Rich Schutte. With the wind howling off Lake Erie and the temperature too cold for normal conversation, we simply couldn't shoot. Finally we found a location behind a building that blocked the wind, and were able to complete exterior interviews shooting toward a small and picturesque on-campus lake, using a diffused background that minimized 21st century intrusions.
Dr. Mohawk is a Seneca Indian. Dr. Dion-Buffalo is a Cree Indian.
October 27, 2002, Buffalo, NY. Rich Schutte records Dr. Yvonne Dion-Buffalo as director Robert Matzen conducts the interview. What you see onscreen behind the historian is a beautiful lakefront vista. What you don't see is the large building protecting all involved from powerful autumn winds and frosty temperatures.
Historian Bruce Egli was shot at three important historic locations. In When the Forest Ran Red, we shot him in the Jumonville Glen and at the site of Dunbar's Camp. In George Washington's First War, we shot him at Point State Park in Pittsburgh Pa at the site of Fort Duquesne. It was the only time in either film that a historian appeared on camera in a thoroughly modern setting. But we felt we had to use the natural energy still felt at what was once the most important and sought-after spot in North America--there really wasn't another choice.
We also shot historian Edmond N. Gaudelli the same day, on the same site. He spoke of the battle of Grant's Defeat on the very ground where part of the encounter took place--a gallant but costly assault on Fort Duquesne by British Highland troops in September 1758.
October 26, 2002. Central Ohio. Rich Schutte trains his camera on a Native reenactor during forest battle maneuvers. Much of the footage shot this day will be used in George Washington's First War, with a few other scenes making it into the Special Edition When the Forest Ran Red DVD.
A night scene of a shimmering full moon with clouds skimming by--in the section of George Washington's First War dealing with Mary Jemison--was not shot in Pennsylvania or Virginia, but rather on Hatteras Island, North Carolina, where little man-made light interferes with nocturnal production.
Bryan C. Cunning first appeared as Washington in George Washington's First War; since that time he has posed for three
Eastern Frontier paintings (by John Buxton, Andrew Knez Jr., and Ray Forquer) and a statue that will sit on Mt. Washington. He then appeared in When the Forest Ran Red Special Edition. That footage was shot at Cross Creek Park in Washington County PA in October 2003. Plans are in the works for Bryan to reprise his role in a major upcoming Paladin production.
Reenactor Bryan C. Cunning portrays George Washington in When the Forest Ran Red and George Washington's First War. Learn more about this star in the making.