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Category: Health & Documentary
Project: The Obsidian Trail
Client: California Dept of Transportation, Far Western Archeology, KVIE Sacramento

After thirty years of developing an expansion of highway 395 in the Eastern Sierra Nevada, it was decided that a film documenting the archeological research funded during the project would serve best as an outreach tool to the public.

Far Western Anthropological Research Group (www.farwestern.com), teamed up with Cinnabar video to develop "The Obsidian Trail", a program that would eventually be seen on 40 PBS stations as well as museum showrooms, classrooms and on-line sites.

The half hour documentary had to satisfy the differing needs of several unique entities.  First and foremost this was to be the presentation of new scientific research in the field of archeology, specifically the data collected and evolving theories discovered by Far Western as it uncovered the mysteries of the past 10,000 years in this very remote spectacular part of California, the Owens Valley.

The film would also have to tell the story of the Paiute natives who call this land their home and who's own history may be at odds with that proposed by archeologists of the region. There is also Caltrans, the great California transportation agency who's work funded all archeological research in the area and had distinct needs regarding the final message of the program.

Our job at Cinnabar video was to find the story that could draw an audience in, take the dry research and breath life into it, and intertwine the beliefs of the Paiute, satisfy the needs of the state agency and turn it all into a program that a major PBS station would embrace and help present to the nation.

"Unlike the miners of the California gold rush who sought gold for the easy riches it would bring them, the native cultures of the region sought a different rock, precious to them for their very survival. Obsidian.  Black Glass."
"The Obsidian Trail"


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