Ken Burns on Why His Formula for a Great Story Is 1+1=3

By: Kasia Cieplak-Mayr Von Baldegg

From The Civil War to Jazz, Ken Burns’s sweeping documentary series have brought American history to life for millions of viewers. His signature style is so well known that Apple’s iMovie has a function — a slow zoom on a still image — called “the Ken Burns effect.” For a documentary filmmaker, it’s hard to imagine a more intimidating project than making a documentary film about Ken Burns. When Sarah Klein and Tom Mason set out explore the mysterious nature of story, however, they decided to do just that. In their beautiful short documentary, Ken Burns: On Story, premiering here today, the filmmaker shares insights into the craft of storytelling and reveals his highly personal quest to “wake the dead.” Klein and Mason talk about the genesis of the project in an interview below.