Filmmaker Phil Koch’s salute to the American flag airs over PBS July 3, and on two local stations.
The American flag, that proud and enduring red, white and blue symbol of American heritage these past 232 years, will be on display just about everywhere this July 4th celebration week. That includes Ch. 11 and Ch. 20 July 3 when both stations air a PBS encore of filmmaker Phil Koch’s definitive documentary, “The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord and Conflict.” The one hour doc of untold stories of the flag’s history is based on a book by Howard Madaus and Whitney Smith, both respected flag historians.
They are interviewed in the doc along with the world’s leading experts on history flags, and culture experts that include filmmakers Norman Lear and Harold Ramis. Featured also are reenactments and flags from rare and never-before-seen collections. Surprisingly, there are few films that focus purely on the subject of this important American symbol. Some theatrical shorts were made about the flag during the early World War II years and a few vintage classroom films date back to the 1930s, so Koch’s “Flag” appears to be the first inclusive update in several decades. Inspiration for the doc came when Koch was approached by flag collectors, who possess a number of great historic flags, such as the flags associated with Lincoln and Custer, the limousine flags from Kennedy’s assassination and flags from Pearl Harbor and 9/11. “No museums wanted to show them,” said Koch, who decided that a documentary would be the best medium for flag exhibition and accompanying stories. He made a presentation to corporate sponsors to start a flag museum and was given the greenlight when he approached PBS about a documentary. Since its June, 2007 PBS premiere, “The Flag” has aired on 200 outlets.
By calling in favors and using people he usually works with, not traveling with his crew by hiring local crew in other cities, Koch was able to bring in the budget “well under $500,000.” Koch produced and director, producer was Sally Marschall; DPs were Marc Miller and Bob Long; Steve Lafayette recorded sound, Joel Denbow edited; Brian Reed of BAM Studios mixed; Steve Mullen provided the score; PAs were Peter Kosowsky, Katherine Koch, Koch’s 25 year-old company, Film Police, provides production management services, crews and equipment for TV shows and features, for networks and cable outlets, and major advertisers.