Masada: Zealots, Suicide and Modern Israel
Directed and wrote two pieces on how ancient history has political ramifications today.
Role: Wrote scripts, recruited and directed team
Developing the Idea
I met up with Yehuda Kurtzer, the president of a prominent Jewish think tank, and said, “I want to make two videos about the history of Jews in Israel during the diaspora.”
To misquote, he said, “I could help, but first, can I ask why?”
I explained my history series vision, and how this would serve as a through-line connecting twenty other videos together.
Again to deeply misquote: “Here’s the thing,” he said, “Saying that Jews have always been in Israel is deeply political. There have always been communities, but they’ve been fringe ones supported by others outside of Israel. Saying there was a continuous line is a narrative used by the right to justify that Jews deserve the land more than others.”
“Oh,” I said, deflated.
We had an hour set aside, and two minutes into the interview I had to scrape my entire video plan and start from scratch. With Yehuda as a guide, I did.
Writing the Scripts
I wrote these scripts based off of where the conversation went, and two subsequent fact checking meetings. When finished, Yehuda, to directly quote said:
Thanks Jeremy. This was one of the more fun projects I’ve been involved with in a long time.
The First Script
The main person on this was Darren Wall, the illustrator and animator. He was excited to do a big ambitious war-piece, and I was excited to work with him.
Finding the right narrator was a huge challenge. I wanted a female narrator, as I’d had too many men narrating recently. We actually recorded another voice actor first, and re-recorded her, and re-recorded again, before ultimately deciding, despite loving her dearly, she wasn’t holding the viewers interest on this topic.
Managing the Production
Incredibly late into the process, I had to hire a new VO artist, and I worked with her to rerecord both pieces. It was a last minute scramble, where I had to find a recording studio the day-of, two days before New Years, and we ended up in what I can only describe as the attic of someone’s Mom’s place. It was the only “recording studio” available.
Ultimately, the decision to seismically adjust the subject matter and completely redo the narration late in the production, saved these pieces. These were an uphill battle and I’m very proud of how they came out.
It felt great to release some of BimBam’s best work on its last week. In the race to the end, rather than a sense of slowing down, there was a feeling of how can we make something better than anything we’ve done before? This, along with the David series, meant that the company went out on top. It’ll be interesting to see what these videos’ impacts are as they collect views in the years ahead.