Projects

BLACKOUT

DIRECTED BY: Callie T. Wiser, TELESCRIPT BY: Sharon Grimberg, STORY BY: David Murdock, PRODUCED BY: David Murdock and Callie T. Wiser / AMERICAN EXPERIENCE / JULY 2015

Told through the memories of ordinary New Yorkers who lived through the events, Blackout explores what happened when the lights went out on July 13, 1977. Following years of decline, the once-booming city was on the verge of bankruptcy; unemployment rates and crime rates were high; police and firefighters had been laid off; municipal services, including sanitation and after-school programs, had been cut; and a serial killer named Son of Sam was still on the loose. With the city plunged into darkness, the divide between the haves and the have-nots became ever more apparent as mayhem broke out. By the time the lights came back on more than 24 hours later, more than 1,600 businesses had been looted, over 3,700 people had been arrested, and firefighters had battled more than 1,000 fires.

KLANSVILLE, U.S.A.

PRODUCER, DIRECTOR: Callie T. Wiser, TELESCRIPT BY: David Espar and Callie T. Wiser / AMERICAN EXPERIENCE / JANUARY 2015

In the 1960s, as the civil rights movement grew across America, the long-dormant Ku Klux Klan gained momentum as well, having reemerged after the 1954 Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education decision. That the Klan would rise once again wasn’t surprising, but where the reincarnation took place was. North Carolina, long considered the most progressive southern state, saw a boom in Klan membership under the leadership of Bob Jones, the most successful Grand Dragon in the country. Tapping into the fears and resentments of low-income whites who believed that a changing America would leave them behind, Jones took his message across the state. In just three years, he grew the North Carolina Klan from a handful of friends to some 10,000 members–more than the Klans of all other southern states combined. In the process, Jones helped give the Tarheel State a new nickname: “Klansville, U.S.A.”

The Amish: Shunned

WRITER, PRODUCER, DIRECTOR: Callie T. Wiser / AMERICAN EXPERIENCE / FEBRUARY 2014

The Amish, which aired in February 2012, told the story of what it means to be a part of the insular, centuries-old Amish community.  The Amish: Shunned shifts focus to tell the story of what it means to leave that community.   Revealing the pain of those who leave and the suffering of those left behind, The Amish: Shunned is the story of people confronted with difficult choices. Whether out in the world for weeks or decades, the former Amish people featured in the film struggle to create a new sense of community. Interwoven with their stories are the voices of staunchly loyal Amish men and women who explain the importance of obedience, the strong ties and traditions that bind them together, and the heartbreak they feel when a loved one falls away. Through its sympathetic portrayal of both sides, the film explores what is gained and what is lost when community and tradition are exchanged for individuality and freedom.

The Amish

DIRECTOR: David Belton PRODUCER: Callie T. Wiser / AMERICAN EXPERIENCE / FEBRUARY 2012 (Sarah Colt Productions)

The Amish, a two-hour special for AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, explores the insular religious community, whose intense faith and adherence to four hundred year-old traditions have by turns captivated and baffled Americans for more than a century. The film examines the beliefs, lifestyle and history of the Amish, as well as their complex relationship to mainstream American culture. Beautifully and lyrically photographed, The Amish is part history, part observational documentary that takes viewers into the world of the Amish.

God in America, Program 1: A New Adam & A New Eden

DIRECTOR: David Belton CO-PRODUCER: Cathleen O’Connell, Callie T. Wiser / FRONTLINE & AMERICAN EXPERIENCE / OCTOBER 2010 (WGBH)

God in America explores the tumultuous 400-year relationship between religion and public life in America. The six-hour series tells the story of how religious dissidents helped shape the American concept of religious liberty; how religious freedom fueled the rise of evangelical America; how social reform—from abolition to civil rights—galvanized men and women to put their faith into political action; and how religious faith influenced conflicts from the American Revolution to the Cold War.

Combining documentary narrative, historical analysis and dramatization, the series brings to life the conflicts, the dilemmas and the critical decisions made by the men and women who battled to establish America’s unique relationship between religion and politics.

George H.W. Bush

PRODUCER: Austin Hoyt, Callie T. Wiser / AMERICAN EXPERIENCE / FEBRUARY 2012 (Austin Hoyt Productions)

When George. H.W. Bush left the Oval Office in 1992, rejected after one tumultuous presidential term, his 30-year career in public service came to an abrupt and unexpected end. Despite soaring approval ratings following military victory in the Persian Gulf, his years as president after the war were marked by almost unrelieved decline. A sluggish economy and an earlier decision to raise taxes, despite an explicit campaign oath, led to his defeat. By the end of his term many observers dismissed him as an artifact of an irrelevant Cold War past.

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE presents the first in-depth assessment of the 41st president of the United States, drawing upon new scholarship and unparalleled access to figures in Bush’s private and public life. George H.W. Bush, from Emmy Award-winning producer Austin Hoyt (Reagan, Eisenhower, Victory in the Pacific), reveals Bush as a pivotal player during a critical moment in American and world history and in a powerful political dynasty. Bush’s personal letters, and interviews with his closest advisors and prominent critics inform the film, which features interviews with First Lady Barbara Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Mikhail Gorbachev, and more.

Storm Over Everest

DIRECTOR: David Breashears CO-PRODUCER: Callie T. Wiser / FRONTLINE / MAY 2008 (Arcturus Motion Pictures)

In May 1996, a fast-moving killer storm trapped three climbing teams high on the slopes of Mount Everest. The exhausted climbers were soon lost in a fierce blizzard and far from the safety of High Camp at 26,000 feet. Renowned climber/filmmaker David Breashears, who aided the rescue efforts back then, returns to Everest to tell the fuller story of what really happened on that legendary climb.