Ask the Filmmakers – Round 5

We asked you on Facebook to send us any questions you had for the filmmakers of THE CONSPIRATOR. Here are some more of the answers! Keep asking questions, as we’ll be answering more in the coming weeks.


Linda Juhasz and others asked…
Do you feel you did enough research into all the characters involved, to give a good portrayal of the events that transpired in April 1865?

The characters and events featured in the film were exhaustively researched by our entire team. Screenwriter James Solomon and historical researcher Melissa Jacobson pored over hundreds of books, courtroom transcripts, and other primary documents to ensure that the film was as accurate as possible. Jacobson even created a historical “bible” that was distributed to the entire team during pre-production.

In addition, our consulting historians provided pages of notes that were integrated into the script and were on hand for any questions that may have arisen during the shoot. The American Film Company is committed to producing historically-accurate films and we intend to commit this level of research for all of our films.

Gregg Watkins Jr. asked…
What was the hardest thing to film throughout the movie?

While you can’t tell from the finished product, the kidnapping flashback scene was one of the most difficult days of shooting in Savannah. We trudged our cast and crew out to the forest in the pouring rain and were instantly covered in mud. One of our “stakebed” trucks got stuck in knee-deep mud for several hours. Add to that some very jittery horses and actors not used to riding and it made for an awfully long day.

Not all moviemaking is glamorous, trust us!

John Wilkes Booth, John Surratt, and other conspirators in the woods outside Washington

The Filmmakers

About The Filmmakers

Founded on the belief that real life is often more compelling than fiction, The American Film Company produces feature films about incredible, true stories from America's past. Central to the company's filmmaking will be prominent historians, assuring that each production remains true to the history from which it is drawn.
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11 Responses to Ask the Filmmakers – Round 5

  1. Trina Bennett (Surratt on birth certificate) says:

    Who can I get a hold of about this film? I’m related to Mary Surratt.

    Thank you,
    Trina Bennett (Surratt)

  2. Laurie Verge says:

    You can contact me. I am director of the Surratt House Museum in Clinton, Maryland. My e-mail is laurie.verge@pgparks.com. We have fairly good genealogical records on the Surratts in general.

    I suspect that you are related through a branch of her husband’s family that left Maryland in the mid-1700s and moved to North Carolina and then westward. Mary Surratt had two sons who be the ones to carry on the family name. However, her oldest son Isaac never married nor fathered children. John, Jr., who created her problems, married the second cousin of Francis Scott Key and fathered ten children, seven of which lived to adulthood. There is a possibility that you are descended through his line.

    Check out http://www.surratt.org

  3. Ann says:

    The Conspirator was never shown in our area. Was the distribution of this film limited? I would still like to see the film. Will it be released on video soon?

  4. Laurie Verge says:

    I understand that the DVD and BluRay editions will be released on August 16.

  5. Larry Buss says:

    An interesting side note. At the end of the film there is a reference to the supreme court over-ruling Lincoln’s suspension of habeous corpus during the war. Did you know that the justice who wrote the majority opinion was David Davis? He was Lincoln’s campaign manager and good friend. He was also executor of Lincoln’s estate. I manage the C.H. Moore Homestead Museum. Mr. Moore was a friend and associate of Davis and Lincoln.

  6. Nelda Curtiss says:

    Did you watch the 1955 movie The Tall Target at all before making the movie or during the filming or after the filming?

  7. Dave Ritter says:

    Just saw the movie last night on DVD. I thought it was very good. The framing of the movie seemed to borrow heavily from “Breaker Morant.” Even had similar scenes with similar dialogue. My question is was this on purpose? Breaker Morant is one of my favorite movies.

  8. Sabrina Brown says:

    I watched the movie twice and loved it but I cannot figure out what the secretary of state was doing with that contraption on his head when he was stabbed. What was that and what was its purpose please?

    • Hendra says:

      Secretary of State Seward had rnceetly been in a carriage accident and had broken his collarbone. The contraption that you saw was a splint of sorts to immobilize his neck and shoulders. It likely saved his life because, when his revolver failed, would-be assassin Powell drew his knife and went after the jugular vein. This contraption stopped a lethal blow.

  9. Laurie Verge says:

    Secretary of State Seward had recently been in a carriage accident and had broken his collarbone. The contraption that you saw was a splint of sorts to immobilize his neck and shoulders. It likely saved his life because, when his revolver failed, would-be assassin Powell drew his knife and went after the jugular vein. This contraption stopped a lethal blow.

  10. Glen Strock says:

    Another interesting historical point of interest is that Gen. Hartranft, Military Gov. of the District and overseer of the Penitentiary where Mary Surratt was confined had received a first hand confession from Lewis T. Powell (alias Payne) who observed, “In the presence of Almighty God I swear Mrs. Surratt is innocent of the crime charged against her.”

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