The phrase “Where history comes to life!” has been used to describe everything from museums to battlefield re-enactments, from stage shows to the big screen, and almost everything historical in-between. Now, this oft-used phrase will introduce a highly anticipated documentary film series, focused on the Roots of Knowledge project. In our last issue of Utah Valley Health & Wellness, we shared an article introducing this wonderful art project, which, through a stained-glass art wall display, will tell the history of the world through the advancements of man’s learning and knowledge. As we stated in that article, the stained-glass art wall will be unveiled on the campus of Utah Valley University in November of 2016. In addition to the physical display at UVU, a full eight-hour documentary series will be produced with the goal of bringing to life the stories and events depicted throughout the art-glass wall.
Making this historical piece of art come to life is the job of Utah-based filmmaker Lee Groberg and his team at Groberg Films. Groberg’s experience with historical documentaries is extensive, as he has produced and directed several historical based films, dating back to as early as 1992. When I asked Lee about his approach to taking thousands of years of history, as depicted in the art-glass wall display, and squeezing it into a four-part documentary series, each part being two hours in length, he concluded that this project will be one of his greatest professional challenges. Then again, he admits to having said that same thing before each of his previous historical films.
While discussing the filmmaker’s approach, Lee went on to say that, “We simply turn the clock back by a few thousand years; then, with research, we tackle the topic so that [the film] is believable. These sorts of projects are exciting to consider because of the challenges—with historians, art direction, props, wardrobe and talent—it is factual movie making at its best.”
Filming of the Roots of Knowledge documentary will take place in various countries around the world, forcing the film crew to “continent hop” in order to deliver a product that is an accurate depiction of those events captured in the art wall display. Lee likened the challenge of the Roots of Knowledge documentary to an earlier film he produced and directed called Fires of Faith. The storyline in this film spanned from the 4th century, beginning in Israel, to the 17th century in England. “We filmed in eight different countries, and I think we captured the essence of the story by attempting to be site-specific in our locations and by selecting filming locations that really can’t be duplicated on set,” Groberg said. This next project will be very similar in approach, taking care to include every detail and delivering a product that is historically accurate and visually stunning.
The documentary film is expected to be fully completed in 3-5 years. When finished, the film will allow viewers to understand, in stunning detail, many of the significant, as well as some of the obscure, moments in history. The entire Roots of Knowledge team all agree that capturing the essence of man’s historical contributions in this documentary will help produce a greater appreciation and understanding for modern mankind.
The Roots of Knowledge team plan to work with PBS for distribution of the documentary here in the United States, as well as other broadcasting groups throughout the world. Ross Wolfley, from Roots Media, indicated that potential broadcast viewership could reach over 100 million people, based on the average weekly viewership ratings for PBS, as well as statistics from other international broadcasting groups. In addition to the final cut of the film, Groberg and his team plan to make more than 100 hours of footage available for an interactive smart-phone app that can be used by visitors to the Roots of Knowledge art-glass wall display on the campus of UVU. This will truly create a unique learning opportunity.
Groberg admitted that, although documentary filmmaking is not easy (especially when your work spans several continents and covers several centuries) he happily accepts the challenge, due in large part by the vision that so many on the Roots of Knowledge team have captured. He then stated, “The first time I saw the pencil sketches of the first ten panels of the Roots of Knowledge art-glass wall at Holdman Studios in Lehi, I was struck by the fact that I was in the presence of visionary artists and that the images portrayed represented almost a sacred depiction of God’s hand in history.”
Clint is the owner and Executive Editor of Utah Valley Health & Wellness Magazine. Clint has over 15 years of sales and marketing experience and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management as well as a Juris Doctor degree from South Texas College of Law. Clint resides in Cedar Hills with his wife and two children.