Proposition 8 Trial Reenactments

Although the Supreme Court put the kibosh on efforts to broadcast in a limited fashion the ongoing Proposition 8 trial in California, that has not stopped efforts to release video from the trial.

In an unprecedented move, two producers have been staging elaborate reenactments with real actors playing the judge, lawyers and witnesses, and posting it all on YouTube:

Frustrated by a Supreme Court decision barring broadcast of the trial, two Los Angeles film types are translating the courtroom testimony into elaborate YouTube re-enactments, complete with professional actors, realistic sets and a budget that might buy you lunch.

“We told the actors: ‘Don’t embellish this. These are real people. This is real testimony. We have to be true to that,’ ” said John Ainsworth, an actor who, along with a filmmaker, John Ireland, is producing the videos and an extensive media campaign of their own.

Once completed, 60 hours of video will reconstruct 12 days of testimony taken verbatim from court transcripts. Each day’s testimony will be uploaded in hourlong chapters to YouTube and, a Web site Mr. Ireland and Mr. Ainsworth created for the project. They said Tuesday that they hoped to have all the video online within two weeks.

Though many in the cast have real acting chops — one plays the president on the Fox show “24” and another, Tess Harper, was nominated for an Academy Award — all are volunteering their time. Shooting takes place in 16-hour stretches on weekends in a mock courtroom at the University of Southern California’s law school.

I played a few clips and found them grindingly realistic.

By that I mean, they are at times exceedingly boring, filled with asides, mistakes, halting speech, objections and admonishments from the judge on how to properly object, mundane matters like whether a document was already admitted or not, whether a video playback is working properly -- in other words all the stuff that actually occurs in a real trial.

Fascinating stuff.



  2. Not in a criminal trial, where lawyers know how to try a case.


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