|Birth of Texas Series|
|Houston Arts and Media|
|Briefly describe your project/program:|
|The Birth of Texas Documentary Series is an eight-part series of feature length documentaries that chronicle the journey from Mexican Texas, along the road to Revolution, through the days of the Republic and on to statehood. The videos not only explore the complete stories of the famous military actions at the Alamo, Goliad and San Jacinto including recent breakthroughs in scholarship and archaeology, but also the roles played by Tejanos, American settlers, filibusterers, enslaved African-Americans, European immigrants and foreign governments in shaping the story of our state. Documentaries in the Birth of Texas Series will revolve around San Felipe de Austin, the Ports and Towns of Mexican Texas, Washington-on-the-Brazos, Goliad, the Alamo, San Jacinto, Houston and Austin. Each will follow the same pattern of telling not only the stories of what happened there, but exploring the broader themes that existed in Texas of the early nineteenth century and grounding them in solid and recognizable historical context.
Another important aspect of each video is that they are grounded in place. We shoot stand ups with the on camera host at the actual locations where these important events took place, showing what is there today and boosting history tourism. It puts a real factor of tangibility into these wonderful stories of Texas history.
Part Seven, dealing with Houston's time as capital of the Republic, has been completed and was the platinum winner in documentary at the 2011 WorldFest. It is already running on the HISD Channel and has been used in classrooms.
|What community needs/issues did your project or program address?|
|For all of the hundreds of things that have been written and produced about the Texas Revolutionary period, surprisingly little ties it together with the context that came both before and after. What we are trying to do is create a comprehensive video source that tells the story of the transformation of Texas from Mexican state to United States and includes all of the diverse cultural elements that brought such richness to the story and to modern Texas. The structure of each film is such that it may easily be watched as a full length documentary or viewed by segment for a classroom setting.|
|Who were all the partners involved? How did they contribute to the project's success?|
|Houston Arts and Media is the sole producer of the series, but we are partnering with close to fifty of the top academics in the field of Texas history. McMurry University professor, Dr. Stephen Hardin, is the on camera host of the series, and we include interviews with passionate hsitorians talking about their fields of expertise. On the distribution end, we look to partner with television outlets around the state, as well as school districts across Texas. We already have a relationship with the HISD Channel in Houston that reaches over a million homes.|
|How did you fund this project? Please list the types of funds involved and how you were successful in securing them (grants, donations, city/county funds, etc.).|
|This is a large project, and funding has been a continuing challenge. We have been forced to look at doing one film at a time and going back to fundraise all over again. This has hurt our project efficiency a bit, but we are determined to get this done. The project has gathered letters of support from many influential people and entities in hopes of furthering our fundraising.|
|What challenges did you encounter? How did you overcome them?|
|Dealing with an area before photography presents an enormous challenge in the area of finding the hundreds of images needed for each title. We make use of documents, maps, drawings and re-enactor footage (without sound) to provide image coverage. It is a very time consuming process, but it also helps establish relationships with many wonderful libraries and archives around the state.|
|What is the future of this project? If applicable, what are the next steps?|
|HAM is determined to finish this important series of documentaries as soon as possible and make them available to as many Texans, both students and adults, as we can. The next step is to try to secure funding to complete the remaining videos. Part Seven is done and has already garnered major awards and acclaim, and Part One is well on its way to completion and release. We just need the backing to finish the others.|
|Based on your experience with this project, what tips or pieces of advice can you share with the preservation community?|
|After many years working in all aspects of media, the staff at HAM are real ambassadors of the idea that hiring professionals, especially those who have worked extensively in the history field, is well worth the money. The difference in quality will be evident in the final production. All aspects of video are important: quality of equipment, quality of software, solid expertise in using that equipment and software, good lighting, good sound, knowing how to use music, clearing rights to photo images, making sure credits are given where due and thinking about things like shelf life and video continuity. These are all things that need to be done right, and the product that you end with will be something that can promote your history message for many years.|
|Statewide Plan Connection|
|Goal 5: Learn and Experience History through Place|
|Statewide Plan Connection (cont.)|
|Goal 5: Learn and Experience History through Place|