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Documentary Film
George Washington Taggart
The Salt Lake City Years


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Notes by the filmmaker, Steve Berlin.

Q. 1. What are the flags on the DVD cover- or for that matter, in the banner at the top of this page?

Q. 2. Why isn't there a navigation menu on the DVD?

Q. 3. How long did it take to make the film?

Q. 4. Why call it a film if it is a video?

Q. 5. How many separate elements make up the film?

Q. 6. Did you have to pay anyone to appear or pay to film or photograph anywhere or to use the music or video?

Q. 7. How much of what you recorded or shot wound up "on the cutting room floor.?"

Q. 8. Is there a blooper reel?

Q. 9. Are there mistakes in the film?

Q. 10. How did you choose the voice talent?

Q. 11. How much did it cost to make this film?

Q. 12. How is the story line organized?

Q. 13. Is the film perfect?

Q. 14. Who took the home video?

Q. 15. How many DVDs were ordered?

A. 1. The Taggarts are Scotch-Irish. GWT mentions this himself. The flags are the St. Andrews Cross, flag of Scotland; The Irish tri-color (the green is for native Irelanders, orange is for the Dutch William of Orange connection and white panel for peace between them) and an 1818 American flag.

A. 2. Because they are confusing and to keep it simple for everyone. KUED does it that way. You put in the DVD and it starts and runs. The only downside is you can't navigate to different scenes - but you can't have everything.

A. 3. The film was conceived in February 2004 and the 1 hr 46 min shipping version completed in December. A 52 min version was shown at the Salt Lake City reunion in August. Production, shooting and recording voiceover sound, lasted from May until the very last voiceover, Tim Taggart doing his grandfather Frederick, was recorded in December. Hundreds of hours went into it.

A. 4. "Film" sounds better and is actually the accepted generic term for such a moving picture production today. The source materials were movie film, digital sound, analog video, digital video and still photographs.

A. 5. About 700 separate stills, film clips, voiceovers and music tracks are in the production.

A. 6. No, the level of cooperation and people's enthusiasm to help us with the film was continually amazing. We were permitted to take a crew into Old Deseret Village free of charge, and use music from commercial CDs and video from commercial DVDs without charge, for example. No one ever said no and no one ever kept us out, even of the Farmington mill which is now a private home.

A. 7. Once in a while we would get what we were looking for in one take but usually it took many more, sometimes as many as 10. A jet would fly over, a tongue would get tied and we would do a repeat. In the sound recording when someone made a mistake we had them stop for a moment and then begin just on the sentence where they had erred and we removed the error digitally in post-production at edit time.

A. 8. No, but there could be. Maybe when I get time... ;-)

A. 9. Probably, but I don't know of any yet besides a couple of minor typos in the rolling credits. See if you can find them, it's hard. When significant errors are found we'll start an errata page here on the Web site so you can correct any misimpressions or misinformation. Check back.

10. Whenever someone would be speaking for a Taggart we tried to find a direct descendent when we could. Otherwise, we used a descendent of the proper wife. When it wasn't a Taggart we used people with good voices who were simply willing to get into the mood and movie. I'm really pleased with the talent and determination to sound right that everyone showed.

11. There were expenses but I don't know and it doesn't matter.

12. The story is of the Taggart Family's years in Great Salt Lake City but in order to place them in context you have to know why they came. That meant telling the story of their roots, conversion and move to Nauvoo, at least briefly. The big events at Nauvoo for the Saints and the Taggarts, who lost four family members there, had to be told. When the Saints had to flee and George, in the advance parties answered the call to the Mormon Battalion that dramatic story had to be told. His dangerous return to Fanny and Eliza had to be told. If that whole saga hadn't turned out the way it did most of us Taggarts wouldn't be here. Then the years in Salt Lake were interesting both for George's activities and the amazing swirl of events the whole family was caught up in. Finally, they move to Richville.

I think linearly and simply told the story chronologically, producing a kind of mini-biography but one which emphasized the Salt Lake years over all.

13. No. There is much excellence but I know where all the imperfections are and if you care to you can see and hear most of them for yourself. However, a great deal of effort went into to using as high production values as possible in order to do as much justice to a wonderful subject so meaningful to us as we were capable of. For models, obviously, I used the work of great documentary storytellers such as Ric and Ken Burns, Ken Verdoia and Lee Groberg. and watched a great deal of it all over again to see how they work. I'll never attain their prodigious skills but just bravely aspiring to helps the work.

If you pay attention to the story you might not pick up on any imperfections at all. Even I hardly fret about them now.

14. I shot the home video at the James Taggart house in Sharon, New Hampshire in the early 90's and the Blaine Taggart family shot the video at the Nauvoo cemetery.

15. I hoped there would be 20 or 30 copies ordered. When the Mormon Battalion organization people contacted us after the reunion about a mailing to the Taggart Family Organization we agreed and asked that we include a flyer about the DVD. As of this writing, 14 Dec 2004, there have been an astonishing 225 orders from family members with more undoubtedly to come. That is very gratifying.

The Church archives has asked for a copy and many of the participants and those who gave of their own work or venues will receive copies as well.


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Last updated: 07 Jul 2008