Friday, May 22, 2009

Patron Saint of Forensic Science

I wrote the following about Frances Glessner Lee - aka Fanny - the creator of the dollhouse scenes of death. Without her, we wouldn't have a story to tell, a film to make. On this Memorial weekend, I am honoring Fanny - a woman who didn't want anyone to die in vain.

Nothing and everything in Lee’s background prepared her for the role of a crime-fighting granny. Born in 1878, a wealthy Chicago heiress; her parents believed that education was wasted on women, so Lee never received the formal education she craved. For most of her life she was paralyzed in the role of wife, mother, and socialite. Lee’s passions were elsewhere: in academia, science, law and medicine. In other words, a man’s world.

In the 1930s, a family friend made Lee aware of the countless murders that went undetected and unsolved because evidence was either mishandled, misinterpreted or ignored. It was as if the dead were talking to Lee, urging her to speak for them. Lee took an active interest as a pioneer in the new emerging arena, “Legal Medicine”, which would later be re-named, “Forensics.”

Lee developed a vision for training every detective to take both scientific and medical evidence into account while solving crimes. To do so, she co-opted a feminine past time – creating miniatures – into a crime-fighting tool for (male) detectives to challenge their abilities to interpret evidence. Ironically, her creation of dollhouses is exactly what catapulted her into a revered role in the masculine realm.

Lee’s legacy lives on through the Nutshells and the Harvard Associates in Police Science (HAPS), an ongoing detective training seminar she developed in the 1940s. Almost 70 years later, Lee’s dollhouses are still relevant training tools because all the latest technological advances in forensics do not change the fact that crime scenes can be misread, and then someone will literally get away with murder.

(We just finished editing the Fanny section of our film! Yay! Happy Memorial Weekend!)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Euan Kerr Movie Natters and the new title

Euan Kerr of MPR's Movie Natters helped us realize that a better title for our film existed wthin our original title. Check out his very cool blog. We really like the comments too!

Things are going well on the edit. We fit in a few hours of editing this morning. We're working on Frances Glessner Lee story. She's such mystery...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Production Still from Of Dolls and Murder

The details in the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death are so incredible that I am still fascinated with them - even after all these years of working on this film. This hammer (with blood) is from Parsonage - a dead girl was found in a vacant parsonage. Is this the murder weapon? Will the Medical Examiner's report say that the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head? It's interesting how much we can assume just by the existence of a bloody hammer. Will science save us from our own assumptions?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Youtube, John Waters and Facebook

We cut together a preview clip for Of Dolls and Murder with John Waters' achingly perfect narration. Check it out.

You can also find Of Dolls and Murder on facebook.
(is our new title growing on you yet?)

I hope your weekend is wonderful!