Q & A with John Grant
John Grant, WNED’s Chief Program Officer, is also the Producer/Director/Writer of THE MARINES. His other PBS production credits with WNED or Driftwood Productions, Inc., his own company, include: NIAGARA FALLS, WINDOW TO THE SEA, the popular series LEGENDARY LIGHTHOUSES, GREAT LODGES OF THE NATIONAL PARKS and WEST POINT. Mr. Grant took a few minutes from his busy schedule preparing the revitalization of READING RAINBOW (with new partner Educate, Inc.) to discuss THE MARINES.
On the Horizon: Where did the idea come from to do a program about Marines training and history for PBS?
The idea originated as part of the ongoing project development activities at WNED. We are always researching and developing ideas for national PBS documentary production. In this case, the idea for such a program coincided with the interest of a funding source in Buffalo, so the Alfiero Family Foundation provided the initial production funding. Then PBS liked the idea for such a program and provided the remaining funding.
OTH: How did you manage to get such unprecedented access?
The Marine Corps is very open to the public and press about its activities. They seem to have a belief that the more people know about what they do, the more support they will get from the public. We also received great support from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation in opening doors for us to various activities and locations.
OTH: Did you learn anything you didn’t know before? What was your most interesting discovery?
The most rewarding aspect of the production was the opportunity to meet so many wonderful Marines. One journalist we interviewed told me, “I don’t ever have a bad day when I’m around the Marines.” I would agree with that. They are refreshingly candid and very open about their patriotism and their dedication to the Corps and to each other.
OTH: What kind of reactions have you had to the program?
The program really looks at the ethos of the Marines. What it takes to be a Marine and, more importantly, what it means to be a Marine. I think those insights, as told by current and former Marines as well as by authors and journalists, are what impact people who see the program. The history and training are interesting, but getting a glimpse of the foundation of the Marines “Warrior Ethos” is the most interesting to people.
OTH: Were there any stories that didn’t make the final version of the documentary?
Even in ninety minutes there is no way to tell the entire story of the Marine Corps. We weren’t able to tell many important aspects. Things like the history of Marine Corps aviation, the role of the Marine Corps Reserves, the history and traditions of the Marine Corps Band. It is a big story.