'This Week' Web Extra: Ken Burns

The documentary filmmaker on his latest PBS project and advice for filmmakers.
3:00 | 11/17/13

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Transcript for 'This Week' Web Extra: Ken Burns
Hello I'm Martha Raddatz ABC news chief global affairs correspondent and I am joined today by documentary filmmaker Ken Burns. Welcome to you thanks for joining us and because we believe all politics is social -- -- -- -- we're going to ask Ken some of the questions that you submitted on FaceBook and Twitter. But before we get to those questions can tell us a little about your new film project being -- -- that will air on PBS in the spring and why you are encouraging. Americans to record themselves reciting -- getting. -- -- November 19 -- a 150 anniversary. Lincoln's delivery of the most celebrated perhaps greatest speech in all of American history the Gettysburg address four months after the greatest battle. Ever tent they take place on American soil I have been spending the last -- making a film about a tiny school in rural Vermont that is a boarding school. A place of last resort for our little boys who have been bullied and marginalized because -- their learning differences there. EDD -- dyslexic there -- this graph you know all this alphabet soup of problems with each year there challenged. To memorize and then publicly recite which is a terror for them. And the Gettysburg address and they do it they overcome things and a school use is that Gettysburg address this kind of unifying thing has for the last eleven years and a goal remember Lincoln says it's a new birth of freedom. And when you see it played out 150 years later in the lives of these kids who really just transcend the limitations. Their differences. And really engage in something as I was editing -- and so moved he said. We need to challenge everyone and I was able to get a lot of -- including all the living presidents to sort of read it and you -- is not and -- -- website -- -- address dot org. And Americans are contributing to -- a whole stadium. -- recited it together schools and Alabama and you talk 09 year old people -- had it on their hard drive for a long time are doing it. And the idea that we can do something in -- we like to sing in church we love to sing take me out to the ball game at at a ballpark. We like to do things in unison and yet we look at our political landscape and it's so fractured -- so divided and intrinsically notify from the far right to the fact there's too much cooler this is not enough when I'm on about that and I think that what the Gettysburg address -- -- Reminds us that histories of table around which we can still -- civil conversation and unfortunately 83% of college graduates today. Can't tell you this speech in which someone said government of the people by the people for the people that means we have a lot of work to do to remind us why we -- -- here. Otherwise we won't be able to solve the problems up -- and that's a wonderful -- It can now -- go to be. Questions from our viewers which I like very much -- To create a document know it's funny then that that could cancers they choose me I could spend a thousand years. And not run out of topics in American history I'm a little bit. Probe parochial and provincial and that it's all the stuff I do -- in American history. But has to be good story I'm not trying to ram an idea down people's do you feel that you ever make a documentary film on a more recent subject matter what do we get our country music will the last film that we -- -- country music goes back a century you know they're less than we did was call the Central Park five at a meeting with my daughter and my son of -- both longtime collaborators and it was about the five black and Hispanic boys falsely accused and imprisoned. And finally after they've gotten out of prison exonerated and still in -- kind of legal limbo as they wait for -- very long. Trial our civil suit work its way through the courts. That's a very contemporary story that touches on issues of race that's part of the American narrative back to Thomas Jefferson. So films on the government shut not not yet willing we'll get we'll get to that but we like to have twenty year 25 years. In a -- to -- to triangular effect that was a great question from Kyle -- now we have one from rob -- do you feel we are. Historically. Illiterate nation if so what are the consequences and possible remedy. We are young country and we are essentially historically illiterate and the only way you get better and go forward. -- to know where you've been it's absolutely critical OK and now we go to the lightning round. Favorite -- I like the seven samurai -- -- -- -- -- sort of Japanese western and from 1950s and I've never seen a better film. If you could interview one person in history who would -- be Abraham Lincoln I knew you were gonna say that ticket -- -- New -- One piece of advice for young filmmakers -- -- I think and others. If you -- -- be a doctor a lawyer and Indian chief you know I know what the courses but if you wanna be a documentary filmmaker particularly you have to know who -- -- that is to say actually at some point -- say you know what I don't have something to say submission yourself. That you need to have a -- -- have something to say not just editorially be need to know that you want to say something. And more important need to have perseverance because nothing's going to be handed to you think you so much for joining us can we really appreciate it and -- everyone who submitted their questions. Be sure to follow this week on Twitter at this week AT CE. And like us on FaceBook at FaceBook dot com slash.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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