In Episode 058 of the Pathway to Promise Podcast Dr. Brad Miller has a fascinating conversation with documentary filmmaker Ted Green of TedGreenfilms.com.
Ted Green is an award-winning filmmaker whose has created films which share stories of the triumph of the human spirit profiling people like Championship basketball coach John Wooden, Military Veterans and Eva Kor who survived terrible medical experiments as a twin by Dr Josef Mengele at the Auschwitz Concentration camp. It was Ted’s latest film about Eva which was the primary topic of this interview.
Ted tells Brad about what he looks for in a great story to tell on film. This includes the tension in the life of the subject which includes overcoming adversity experiencing a beautiful story arch with speaks to the hears of people. He goes on to share how important it is that the subject leaves an indelible impression on the people they influence in their life. Such was certainly the case in the story of Eva Kor the focus of Teds film “Eva:”
Eva Kor and her twin sister were separated from her mother at age 10 at the Auschwitz death camp and subject to unthinkable medical experiments by the “Angel of Death” Dr. Josef Mengele. Of 3000 twins experimented on Eva and her sister were among only 300 to survive the war.
Ted Green tells Eva’s story of survival of the death camp and then her incredible courage and perseverance to tell the story of the Josef Mengele twins and simultaneously led a worldwide manhunt for the doctor who authored such pain and death.
The most memorable part of the conversation about Eva was her decision to forgive Dr. Josef Mengele and the Nazi’s in 1995 which led to backlash and persecution in the aftermath of her decision to forgive.
it was the choice to finish with forgiveness which led to a life transformation for Eva which she shares with Ted Green in the film and which she teaches now to a generation of school children through an educational program based on the movie.
This is truly a story of life transformation through telling the story of forgiveness through Ted Greens film and in this fascination conversation he has with Dr. Brad Miller on this Episode 058 of the Pathway to Promise Podcast.
The mission of the Pathway to Promise Podcast is to help people overcome adversity and discover their promised life of peace, prosperity, and purpose.
Dr. Brad Miller
Brad Miller 1:17
My privilege today to have with us Ted green of Ted green films, who is a filmmaker of some really, really awesome films that have showed the human spirit in some really neat ways, shows how people have overcome great adversity will go, in one particular case about a woman who was in a Nazi concentration camp, and we'll talk about her in just a minute. But, Ted, welcome to the pathway to promise.
Ted Green 1:42
Thanks, Brad. I really appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Brad Miller 1:45
Awesome. Well, you're a great storyteller, and I enjoy your work. But you started off your storytelling in the newspaper business and somehow navigated to film but tell us a little bit about your story about how you got to where you're at today.
Ted Green 1:57
Sure. And actually, I'll start by saying that I still can consider myself a journalist, rather than a filmmaker, I'm just operating in a different medium now. But after college, and then I went to grad school in Chicago for journalism. And then I, I was going to be nothing but a sports writer, nothing else. That's all I was going to be. And then I was sitting at home for maybe six months, striking out and every job opportunity and one popped up in a tiny little town in Florida, where I was going to be a news copy editor. And I was going to have no part of that. But my parents said, you're out the door, you're taking it and I said, Okay, I packed up my, my three fish into the U haul. And then I ultimately did end up on the sports side of things. And I was an editor and sports departments in various capacities for just about 20 years, mostly with the Miami Herald for five years after the Cincinnati Enquirer for three years. And then in 2001, shortly after my wife and I had our twins, were working the Miami Herald at the time. She got a job offer here in Indianapolis. And we're both kinds of Midwesterners. And we, you know, we love South Florida, but we didn't think that was maybe the best place to raise our kids and in our opinion, and so
Brad Miller 3:20
your kids were about how old at this time,
Ted Green 3:21
like they were three months old. We got the offer. And so why should say she got an offer, I didn't get an offer. So and what that all amounted to is we moved to Indianapolis, where we'd never been before she started at the Indianapolis Star. And I ended up being a stay at home dad for three years, which time I wrote a novel, it's sitting in my underwear drawer ever since. So it's not published, no not published, I decided that I wanted to be William Faulkner. And I decided I need a little more work. I'll jump ahead here. But so then I did. Ultimately, after the kids were old enough to go to preschool, I looked for a job and I got one at the star. So I started the star in 2004. And about 2009, I sort of moved over a little bit to the digital side of things. It was kind of a new at that time, at least in newspapers. And something happened. And that was that john wooden celebrated his 99th birthday, of course, john wooden, Indiana, legends national legend.
And I thought you know,
Brad Miller 4:30
and he was still living at the time. He was
Ted Green 4:33
still living. And I just thought, you know, I like to sort of plan ahead, and I believe in time pegs. And I thought,
you know we should, we should
plan for something truly special, if he, you know, makes it to 100. or, for that matter if the unfortunate case that he didn't. And I thought well, what can we do? And I went through my old bag of tricks and didn't find it was an old bag of tricks. And I thought, Well, how about like a five-minute video? How hard could it be? You know, I find a few old photos and string together some model and music and some bad narration and said there will be Piece of cake. Right? Well, I got so into what I wanted to focus on because everything's been written about him about his time at UCLA. But as I researched it a little bit, there wasn't that much on his years in Indiana, and he spent many, many years in Indiana is where he grew up. And he first started coaching, teaching and versus where he sort of developed his values that made him famous. And so I thought, wow, this is this is what I will focus on. And I started talking to people. And they started talking to me and opening up stories. And I was just kind of amazed by this about all that I was learning. And I was also amazed because I'd never done. You know, I was an editor, not a reporter. So I had done some interviews, I had a ton. I've never done it before on with video, where you can see the emotions and you know, almost like the look in the eyes is almost as important as what's coming out of their mouths. And I just also a long way of saying that. And you'll explain this itself, that the original five minute project, Boston ended up a 30 minute project. And the newspaper folks were like, What are you? What have you been doing on our time? Yeah, you know, it's something he did back then certainly. And still even now you don't see newspapers doing sort of 30 minute mini documentaries? Well, so I was sort of a pariah there for a bit. And then somebody suggested, well, why are you walking up the street to W FYI, that public station here in Indianapolis? I'd never been here. It was a complete cold call. I did send it in advance to the director of programming, Clayton Taylor, who says become a dear friend and and so he invited me in to talk about it. And he just said he kind of had a twinkle in his eyes. And you know, I think I know somebody who, who might get a kick out of this one should come with me. Walk me down on the hall. didn't know where I was going next. And no, I mean, CEO and President Lloyd Wright's office on his desk is a picture of himself. Arm in arm with john wooden.
Brad Miller 7:13
So you hit the right people at the right time
Ted Green 7:15
there indefinitely, baby. Yeah. Anyway, so what that resulted in was a 30 minute video that was and we sold a sponsorship that also now is very popular at the paper. But a 30 minute video is called a documentary on john wooden and I look back now and I almost cringe a little bit at the technical quality of it. Why was able to pretty it up quite a bit. But still, there's only so much they could redo that I had already done sure. But nonetheless, that it spread, it got picked up by American Public Television, which is sort of the overall umbrella body over PBS member stations. And it played in you know, I think it was 180 markets around the country. And it wasn't because of anything great I had done it was because of the topic. Certainly one of the first rules of I've learned as being a filmmakers, pick a good topic, take you a long way. But I sort of caught the bug with that with this great new way of storytelling and I've got to watch people react to it and get emotional and and so I just wouldn't story it's just not a basketball so I didn't do a basketball Brian really I wanted to this is credible. Guys incredible. above all a teacher he would say more than a bad Yes,
Brad Miller 8:30
that was his day, wasn't it?
Ted Green 8:32
He was a teacher and he got those values from his parents. And they're they're still there, buried down there outside Martinsville. And I just, there's something hit me there's a beauty to this that I had not experienced in all my time reporting on sports. Anyways, shortly after that, working alongside my great colleague, Don Mitchell, the librarian at the star, she she wanted to do a piece on military veterans. And we thought well, alright, we are we're one for one. Let's try something else. Okay. And then we did a piece on military veterans called Who's your veterans, colon faces of war. And that we released that, again, timing on Veterans Day. Okay. And it was it was also popular is more local, because it was all Indiana so nationally, but at that point, the strength of those two you know, journalism was in the news still is newspapers at a tough time. Right. Now, as it turns out, my wife is now the sports editor at the star. Okay, somewhat ironically. But we sort of had a talk and we thought, you know, if ever I'm going to embark on something else, this might be the time. And so then I left the paper. And ever since then, why has been a wonderful partner of mine, David, let me hang my shingle here. And since then, I've done five more documentaries. And you know, the most recent one, the one you referred to earlier on Holocaust survivor, Eva,
Brad Miller 9:58
Eva core, but it may his story will get a little more details on that. But I'm interested you have described yourself as a storyteller, both in the sports world and on print medium. But how the fascination came to you be doing documentaries and seeing people observed and the topics there? What do you look for? Ted, in a great story? What are the elements of a great story that you want to tell on film?
Ted Green 10:23
You know, I think he probably no different than most storytellers in this way, you you the tension, the need overcoming adversity, he needed a beautiful story arc you need that can't be perfect. It can't be Hollywood. But it needs to speak to people. I can't say that I started out saying this is what I'm going to do. But it has morphed into that. And I gave a speech the other day and for the Daughters of the American Revolution. Their statewide conference, noted that what I tried to do now, story is showing the triumph of the human spirit. That is something that I that is that is what I focus on. And I look back and even some of the early ones, I would say, show that even if it wasn't necessarily my intention, and some of these have been rooted in sports. For instance, I did a couple I did one on Roger Brown, the very first Indiana Pacer Well, I am a storyteller. I'm also a story learner, what fascinated me there I was in a little project about the very beginnings of the Pacers. And I looked up in the was over at the arena and I looked up and I looked at the retired jerseys. And I would have been sworn that just because of all my background sports that I would know at least know who they were basically every retired jersey in all of the four major sports. And yet here I'm in Indiana, I didn't even don't even know who this guy Roger Brown is.
Brad Miller 11:52
You know, it seemed to be a very localized thing, really, but he was a tremendous impact. Oh, locally
Ted Green 11:57
experiment, but you know that the thing would be reason he wasn't bigger. I mean, people like Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and others told me that he would have gone down as one of the greatest players ever. But he was caught up as a teenager, a very poor teenager in Brooklyn, in a gambling scandal that he actually had no part of, and that was more or less proven later. But because of that, and because of the NBA nine or 10 years earlier, had gone through a horrible gambling scandal. You were going overboard the other way he was banned by the league and kicked out of college, he lost his best years. And then he only got back into the game really because the Indiana Pacers have this new American Basketball Association. They heard about him and the advice of Oscar Robertson. You know, who grew up here in Indianapolis anyway, so he, you know, here Here he also he's lost a lot of his best years but here he is with the Pacers. He comes back he leaves into three championships he actually becomes a City County Councilman for a bit you know, there is a lot to that story so so much more than sports and and also that and that resonated around the country. And that was picked up humbled to say that was picked up by ESPN classic for three years. Awesome. So that was human spirit. Do one on slick Leonard, after that Roger Browns coach grew up in a very difficult situation in Terre Haute, you know, with a relationship with his dad, that was not great. And you know, he is now become sort of a father figure for the whole state. I would say
Brad Miller 13:30
yeah, absolutely Beloved, beloved guy.
Ted Green 13:32
And then I'm sorry to keep listening these But
Brad Miller 13:35
well, with the best of what I'm after, or what I'm after here, Ted is you've talked about some fascinating figures. Yeah, whether all our listeners know it or not. They all have fascinating figures in their life or people they're aware of, and your that who have overcome some major adversity at trafficking, human spirit, as, as you say, but what do you look for in these in these stories? What are some sparks you look for in these various stories that you want to you want to tell about the individuals now we're about or the circumstances
Ted Green 14:02
and I can sort of determine, at least in my model, I determine a story early on, if it sounds looks good on paper, yeah, this has a lot to it. And then I interview people even just off the record, just sit down with them. And I can see in their hearing what they say and see in their eyes the effect that that person weathers Eva core, Roger brown or somebody involved with, you know, segregated Crispus Attucks high school, or john wooden, and you see, the tracks that they left the the influence that they've had over people, then you can start to say, wow, this is more than I bargained for. This is really something. Eva core.
Brad Miller 14:41
Yeah, because she's the most fascinating figure. She's a tremendous, fascinating figure. And if you just unpack her story a little bit for our audience, and then we'll get into that,
Ted Green 14:49
okay. Well, you know, her Her story is she was a Mengele twin at Auschwitz. That is she was one of the twins who are experimented on by notorious not Dr. Josef Mengele, as he was trying to create the perfect race. He was trying to create perfect race. And so what that amounted to was when she and her family, they were the only Jews and one very small town of Romania, they were carted off to Auschwitz, dumped off on the selection platform with so many others. And in right there in the space of a few, like 30 seconds, she was separated, she and her twin sister were separated from the rest of the family who they never would see again. And you know, and definitely, they definitely died in the camp. And then so then little 10 year old Eva and her twin, for the next nine months were, were experimented on. They ended up surviving liberation, there were 3000 Twins that were experimented on total and about 200 survived. But since then, it's been the surviving the surviving, as it gets put, sometimes she has lived a very, very, very difficult life, she ended up moving by sort of weird happenstance to Terre Haute, Indiana in 1960. And, and went through a lot. I'll get to more on that, but what she's become famous for. And this she did on the 50th anniversary of liberation, in 1995, she announced to travel back to Auschwitz to announce that she had forgiven the Nazis. And that made her a very, very controversial figure at the time, especially in the Jewish community, especially especially in this survivor, the Holocaust, sure community and she became really a pariah, in some ways, among her own people. And yet, now here she is, whatever it is almost 25 years later. And she is now a global ambassador, for forgiveness, for healing, for teaching she stands is, in my opinion, that the greatest example that I've ever encountered, the power of a single person has through through love, and will and determination to change the world.
Brad Miller 17:08
Yeah, the transformation is just amazing. Cuz she chose, in her own way, even as a 10 year old, and even as a 50 year old, 5050 year old, late 50s, Lady later on, to take some bold action and do whatever it took to survive, and to make an impact based on her. Her will and her her impetus that she had to make changes in herself and others. And I think it's a little bit more about that about what are some bold actions that she took? Or maybe you took, or maybe some of your other characters in your films have taken? What are some, you know, bold actions that they took to kind of break a pattern in order to effect change?
Ted Green 17:48
Well, you look at what Eva did. And it's almost hard to imagine, this is a woman live very modestly in Taro. And yet she she, I could say effectively, but I wouldn't even say that she did. She managed to introduce the Mengele twins, which was here to for a hidden chapter of the Holocaust. She essentially introduced them to the world. And at the same time, she initiated what became at the time...