Where Words Prevail

About the documentary:

She's been called "Theater's Horse Whisperer."

Featuring interviews with Helen Hunt, Emily Watson, Michael Attenborough, Neil Kinnock and many others, "Where Words Prevail" explores the widely acclaimed work of Cicely Berry. As Voice Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Cicely Berry's influence reaches far beyond traditional training. Berry strives to help not only well-known actors and directors, but also those living on the margins of society, find their authentic voice. From rehearsals at the RSC in Stratford-on-Avon, to workshops and master classes in Seoul, Moscow and the slums of Rio de Janeiro, Berry's work produces a new understanding of the power of voice, language and communication. WHERE WORDS PREVAIL follows her work from rehearsals in Stratford-on-Avon to workshops in Seoul, New York, Moscow and the slums of Rio de Janeiro, where youngsters read Shakespeare and come to understand the relevance of the work to their own lives.

“If we do not/cannot express our inner selves, how do we know what we think or what we feel? How can we have any philosophy or viewpoint? For it is in the expressing of our thoughts and intuitions that we can recognize them and deal with them – and take action. But if we cannot express these ideas and thoughts, the result can only be silent anger.”

Cicely Berry

The task:

Winter 2005/6 – Early response to the film's distributor, American Public Television, indicated potential broadcast interest for "Where Words Prevail" would be roughly 29% of the country. Kristin was brought on board to premiere the one-hour documentary on PBS stations nationally.

The campaign:

Kristin launched the broadcast campaign by introducing the documentary in a national e-blast to PBS stations that was written in the form of 32 lines of mock Shakespearean verse. Twenty play references were deftly tucked into the appeal (see below) and PBS programmers were invited to correctly identify the modified Shakespearean quotes in order to win an autographed copy of Cis Berry's book. Not only were a number of winning entries received within twenty-four hours, several programmers responded with prose of their own, all of which helped to make the film and the broadcast relations efforts uniquely lively and memorable.

Programmers were additionally courted on an individual basis with well-researched information about potential local broadcast sponsors – a topic of no small interest to them – including Los Angeles' "Shakespeare by the Sea," the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, Georgia Shakespeare, the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, the Tony Award-winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival, among many others.

In addition to strategizing the documentary's national public television broadcast premiere, Kristin conceived of, and with the help of the filmmakers and WNET staff, arranged for a VIP, invitation only, premiere screening of "Where Words Prevail" at the newly opened Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City. Cicely Berry flew in from England to help premiere the film, which was attended by well over 100 of WNET's top tier donors resulting in a successful evening for the film, the filmmakers and WNET, New York's primary PBS station. "Where Words Prevail" premiered on television as part of WNET's 'Celebration of the Arts' month.

The results:

"Where Words Prevail" premiered in markets covering at least 83% of the country making the documentary available to nearly ninety-two million households. The documentary had more than 50 broadcasts in the #1 New York City market alone; more than 450 broadcasts in the top thirty markets; and over 630 broadcasts in the top fifty markets. By the end of Kristin's contract, "Where Words Prevail" had 2098 broadcasts across 140 markets in 42 states and the District of Columbia. WWP aired in 9 of the top 10 markets; 41 of the top 50 markets; and 80% of the top 100.

The reactions:

"I think those of us striving to make a difference, connect somewhere, somehow on the same spiritual frequency. You are really amazing...."

Steve Budlong, filmmaker

"Your hard work for several years, and your relationships have helped us beyond expectation. (The) event was tremendous."

Salvatore Rasa, filmmaker

"Kristin, (this is) the most original program pitch I’ve ever seen! And either it took lots and lots of time to create or you’re extraordinarily talented, should quite your day job, and start writing!"

Bob Olive
Director, Georgia Public Television Broadcast Services

"Kristin, thank you again for pulling together the marvelous event with Cicely Berry... the film (and Cicely) is fascinating – and the event was lovely."

Alison Fox
Director of Development, Thirteen/WNET in New York

The press reviews:

"A brilliantly constructed documentary about Cicely Berry, a visionary, a complete original in her field, whose highly practical teachings if properly applies would transform human expression & self-esteem."

Michael Attenborough
Principal Associate Director, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1990-2002

The clients:

Steven C Budlong, Co-Producer/Director

A graduate of Denison University with a double major in Cinema and Soviet Studies, Steve Budlong formed a commercial production company in the mid-west in the late 1970s where he worked as an independent producer, director, writer, cinematographer. His love for documentaries prompted a move to New York City during the 1980s where he became the Director of Media Services for Citigroup. In addition to his corporate responsibilities Budlong continued to act as Executive Producer and Director on a number of film projects, including a documentary on Lillian Gish, hosted by Tony Randall (1987) and a film on Maestro Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and their 1998 Asia Tour. Budlong's “See You in Hell, Blind Boy,” a 1999 music documentary exploring the history of the country blues throughout the Mississippi Delta, came about through a collaboration with George Pratt, the artist and writer of the book by the same name. Several years ago Budlong again teamed with George Pratt to begin work on “Artists at the Front”, a look at the forgotten work of a handful of famous illustrators who were conscripted by the AEF to document the American efforts in WWI.

Salvatore Rasa, Co-Producer/Director

Sal Rasa has taught on the university level and holds a BA in philosophy and a Master of Fine Arts in Directing. Rasa's first professional engagement was at age sixteen playing the role of Harry A Kagan in the Warner Brothers film "Up The Down Staircase." Fascinated with the collaborative process of film and theatre, he went on to work and study with Michael Kirby, author of the book and inventor of the word “Happenings”. Sal then became assistant production stage manager of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) working on more than three thousand performances ranging from local community theaters to global entities like the Berliner Ensemble, The Abbey Theatre of Ireland and The Royal Shakespeare Company. During that time, Sal spent a summer as a directing observer to The Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford England. Following BAM, he was assistant director and production stage manager of the original production of "The Gospel At Colonus" with Morgan Freeman, an Emmy nominee for best public television special of the year.

Altogether, Salvatore Rasa has been active in communication and learning efforts within business, arts and education for over thirty years. He is currently involved in a global project, "Generating Community Driven Solutions," to create greater understanding of the realities and values of the diverse 21st century workplace.

WGBH, Boston

The presenting PBS station

the Broadcast Campaign's Appeal to PBS Programmers:

Friends, programmers, countrymen...
Lend me your eyes,
For what a piece of work is this!

This is such stuff
As dreams are made on.
All the world's a stage and
This play's the thing!

Perchance you are pondering, programmer fair,
Yet another special –
To air, or not to air?

Oft expectation fails,
But be not pain'd
For the quality of this production is not strain'd.

Let every eye negotiate for itself
Which evening to place it upon,
Remembering only –
Nothing can come of nothing.

So be not afraid of greatness –
Get thee to a screening room
Look both with the eyes and with the mind.

And should we be but asked,
Our fair advice is to schedule this film –
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow...

Oh happy airdate!

Now go we in content
But when shall we meet again?
Perchance the APT Fall Marketplace
Where I will buy with you, sell with you, talk with you...

'Til then, good night, good night!
Parting is such sweet sorrow...

The website: