3RD INTERNATIONAL VIRTUAL CONFERENCE ON
CONTEMPORARY PROGRESSION IN FORENSIC SCIENCE
Remarks by Paul Dowling, Creator and Executive Producer of FORENSIC FILES
THE “SMART APPROACH” OF FORENSIC FILES
We decided to do that without sounding like a science show on television. The question was, how can we talk science in a simple way
without talking down to them.
I think that's what fascinates people about it. You can learn a little science. You can play along … it’s a murder mystery who done it? We didn't do famous cases for the most part, we did regular cases viewers wouldn’t know.
WHAT MAKES FORENSIC FILES DIFFERENT FROM OTHER TRUE CRIME SERIES
FORENSIC FILES had a lot of the production values of feature films. The music is always composed, like a movie, the show is done, and then sent out to a composer, it’s composed, approved and edited in.
IMPACT ON CRIMINAL TRIALS
The average juror today is very sophisticated. And I think FORENSIC FILES can take some credit for that. We've had trials here in the United States where the prosecutors and defense attorneys have asked the prospective jurors, "Have you seen FORENSIC FILES?" Sometimes the defense lawyers don't want to have viewers who watch FORENSIC FILES. Sometimes they do.
The show always took a point of view. The point of view was always the prosecutor. Why? Because there was a connection. It's one thing when a defense lawyer gets up and talks about his or her client…. that a bad guy came in and killed the family. Well, it’s fine to say that to the jury, but if you try to shoot that you begin to see immediately just how galactically stupid it was, and there was no chance of that happening. And we're trying to be fair about it and let the viewer make a decision. But at some point, that's difficult, if not impossible. There are times when we try to shoot the crime the way the prosecutor says,
and it doesn't work either..
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
Number one, the death penalty is bad. I used to think the death penalty was okay. But there are 300 and some people who were on death row here in the United States, ready to die and post-conviction DNA, DNA technology that was developed after they were convicted that exonerated them.
The second thing you learn people confess to crimes they don't commit. It happens all the time.
One of the reasons is they were so afraid that they were going to be convicted, they took a plea bargain. So, they pled guilty to a lesser crime,
in hopes of a better outcome.
(Astute viewers will know the first false confession case FORENSIC FILES covered was Season 9, Episode 211, FISHING FOR THE TRUTH)
I was doing a story in Norfolk, Virginia for a very famous case here in the United States. Four naval seamen confessed to the rape and murder of an 18-year-old girl in Norfolk, Virginia. While I'm doing the show, I get a phone call from a guy named Omar Ballard. And Omar Ballard said, “I hear you're doing a show about this case and you were looking for my cousin who was the victim’s friend.” I said, that’s right. He said, “I did that crime. I'm the killer. I'm in prison for life for another crime.”
I had conversation with the prosecutor. “Do you know this guy?” “Yeah, yeah.” “Did his semen match the crime?" “Yeah, yeah.” “Well you got to let the other guys out.” “No, no, no.” “Why?” “Well, not all of the four men in prison recanted”. I said “Okay, which one didn't recant” and he told me a guy named Joseph Dick. And so, I contacted Joe Dick. He recanted to me. Now that's saying something when somebody recants to a TV producer.
That's the power of television. Had we not done the case on television, the Virginia governor would not have seen it and would not have pardoned them. Those people still would be in prison. Those guys were in prison for 10 years, as it was. The day I met the guys who were in prison was at a pig roast in North Carolina was the most emotional day of my life and frankly, very, very rewarding.
There are some that really got to me. We did a case where the killer and his girlfriend went into a bar in Ocean City, Maryland and decided to play tricks on people. They invited another couple over to their condo, and would say, “Oh my goodness, my wife's purse is missing. Can you help us find the purse ?”
And the game they were playing is if they found the purse, they would let them live. If they didn't find the purse, they would kill them. We're discussing how to handle this horrible senseless crime in the recreation. How do we describe this to the viewer? No explanation. Both of them were crazy. If we wrote some of these stories like fiction, no one would believe them.
(Found in Season 13, episode 376: DIRTY LITTLE SECRET (sic))
My all-time favorite is an episode called BAD BLOOD. A young girl had a breakup with her boyfriend, went to a local hospital to see her best friend who was working there. Sees her own doctor working in the ER, he asks, “Do you want something to calm yourself down?” He gives her a shot, but when she wakes up, she finds that her panties are wet. She's smart enough to take the panties to a Planned Parenthood office and asked to have the panties tested. And in the panties, they found semen and so she goes to police.
They arrest the doctor for sexual assault and rape. They take blood from the doctor, but it doesn't match. The victim is convinced the doctor must have had the lab switch the samples, and demanded a second test, this time done by the police.
On video we have the nurse taking blood from the doctor’s arm, which was tested at the police lab, but that didn’t match either.
Why? Because the doctor made an incision up near his armpit, put a tube down his arm, had his patients’ blood in it. And so, every time the nurse was taking blood, sticking the needle in this plastic tube but not in his vein.
The victim broke into the doctor’s car, took a lip balm she found, and had it tested for DNA. It matched the semen in her panties.
ut the clincher of the story is that the doctor’s wife had a daughter by her first marriage. The daughter suddenly says, “Mom, I've never told you this. I've been embarrassed. I didn't think you'd believe me. He's been coming into my room every Sunday giving me a drug and raping me.” So, this victim not only proves this doctor was a rapist but saves the wife's daughter from abuse. We have stories like this all the time.
(Episode 89 from Season 6: BAD BLOOD)
We even did one where DNA from a squirrel solved a crime. We had to get the squirrel from an animal trainer who trained squirrels for commercials. We're shooting this on a golf course and I said, “Are you sure the squirrels are not going to run away?” “No, not going to run away”, was the trainer’s answer.
Well, with each take the squirrel is getting a little more active. And finally, the animal trainer said,” Stop…We got to take a break.” I said, “Yeah, this thing looks like it's going to run away. I walked to the trainer’s van ….and they were blowing marijuana smoke in the squirrel’s face.
It’s all about the ratings, of course…not just the program ratings, but the commercials. In fact, there are measurements to see how many people stay tuned for commercial breaks. A big drop is not good. FORENSIC FILES has a drop off rate of 8% of the viewers who left during the commercial breaks. And when I first heard that, I thought, that's a lot, you know, except when I found out that the average was 30%.
If you notice there is no tease at the end of each program block before the break…you know, “Coming up next, the butler did it. Stay tuned”. We took that out. And the second thing we took out is when we come back from the commercial, we don't recap. I hated that. You're punishing your best viewer; the best viewer has already seen the first block. We just come back and start again.
Because the shows that have recaps can often take a minute or two to recap what’s already been covered. But the reason that it’s bad is the viewer who goes to the bathroom or gets a drink knows they don't have to come right back. Well, we cut out the recap. So, the viewer will miss something if they don’t stay in their seat.
WORKING WITH SCIENCE AND LAW ENFORCEMENT
Everybody was great. We kept our word when the scientists gave us information off the record, we didn't burn them and use it…. same thing with the prosecutors and investigators; we developed a good reputation right away with them.
We use real investigators when you see police in the show, those are real police. We learned a lot from them. We even hire convicted felons to help us shoot recreations because we didn't know much about crime. And we would say to them, okay, what would a bad guy do here?
We did a couple of cybercrime cases. I hear about this stuff a lot, and it especially involves fraud. It's horrifying and it's disgusting. And people don't really know the extent of it. The problem is it's not visual. A couple of times we did it in FORENSIC FILES, it was intellectually interesting, but it wasn't visually interesting.
THE BOOM IN SCIENCE STUDIES
I think FORENSIC FILES has contributed largely to the new interest in science for young people. I think that's been very, very rewarding. I think science there for a while had been on that downturn. And I think now a lot of people want to go into science. I think they see a value to it, and importance to it.
FORENSIC FILES SMASHES RECORDS, RENEWED FOR 2 SEASONS
(Hertford, NC USA) Hot on the heels of a record-breaking performance on HLN, GARYLICO.TV is blown away to announce the renewal of FORENSIC FILES, the world’s most successful true crime/investigation television series. “The performance of the new episodes surpassed all expectations”, said Gary Lico, the exclusive international distributor of FORENSIC FILES. “Our international clients are now launching the new eps with the assurance that the series is stronger than ever.”
Sixteen (16) new episodes for each season (16 and 17) will be produced for Turner Broadcasting’s US network, HLN, bringing the total to 48, along with the library of 395 half-hours. In addition to HLN, channels already committed to the new episodes include RTL, Germany; CBS Reality, UK; Atresmedia, Spain; e.TV, South Africa and Foxtel, Australia.
“FORENSIC FILES started the genre, and over 25 years later, it remains a top series for telecasters and platforms everywhere”, said Lico. “It’s a one-of-a-kind program opportunity.”
Forensic Files® is a pioneer in the field of fact-based, high-tech, dramatic storytelling. This series of television programs delves into the world of forensic science, profiling intriguing crimes, accidents and outbreaks of disease from around the world!
Gary Lico is 40+ year veteran of all phases of television programming: research, scheduling, development, production, distribution and even talent. In addition to FORENSIC FILES, he’s brought hits to television such as INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO, MONSTER QUEST, DEALS FROM THE DARKSIDE, HOUSE OF BABIES, INTERSECTIONS and dozens more.
THE VIEWERS HAVE SPOKEN
FORENSIC FILES II, HLN’S HIGHEST RATED ORIGINAL SERIES EVER,
IS RENEWED FOR TWO SEASONS WITH 32 EPISODES
Critically Acclaimed Actor Bill Camp Continues as Narrator of Docu-Series
May 12, 2020
Forensic Files II, the highly successful reboot of one of the most popular crime and investigations docu-series in history, is renewed for second and third seasons with16 half-hour episodes in each, it was announced by Ken Jautz, executive vice president, CNN.
Produced by CNN Program Development and airing exclusively on HLN, the next season of Forensic Files II will begin airing in 2021, with esteemed actor Bill Camp (The Outsider, The Night Of, Joker) serving as narrator.
HLN, which has exclusive cable rights to the original Forensic Files, was granted additional rights to produce the new series by its creator Paul Dowling and his production company Medstar Television.
Under the guidance of executive producer Nancy Duffy, Forensic Files II launched on February 23, 2020 and picked up where the long-running original left off in 2011, staying true to the original format, content and continuity, but using advancements in investigative technology and production.
“We are thrilled to continue our association with what is still the most iconic brand in the genre,” said Jautz. “Thanks to the skill and creativity of Nancy Duffy and her team, Forensic Files II exceeded expectations and was an unequivocal hit among viewers. And we of course have Paul Dowling to thank for trusting us with his exceptional creation,” he added.
“Our goal was to continue the Forensic Files legacy, telling new stories about how science and advanced forensic techniques are used to crack the most difficult cases....and the loyal Forensic Files fan base responded enthusiastically,” said Duffy. “I second Ken by offering gratitude to Paul who provided guidance as we rebooted the series,” she added.
Forensic Files II is HLN’s top original series to date and delivered its time best time period performance in 20 years (Sundays, 10-11pm). The series was also #1 in cable news and among true crime networks (ID, A&E and Oxygen) In its time period.
Exclusive international distribution of Forensic Files II is through GARYLICO.TV, firstname.lastname@example.org Channels committed include RTL, Foxtel, AMC International and Atresmedia.
About HLN Original Series
Amy Entelis, executive vice president of talent and content development, CNN Worldwide, oversees CNN Original Series and HLN Original Series. Nancy Duffy, senior vice president of program development for CNN, supervises production of internally produced HLN Original Series.
HLN (www.CNN.com/HLN) features live coverage of national, regional, lifestyle, and entertainment stories in a fast-paced approachable tone with expert-led hosts. The network also presents original and acquired series focusing on true crime, mysteries and investigations. HLN is a CNN Worldwide network reaching more than 90 million households in the U.S. CNN Worldwide, a division of Turner, a WarnerMedia Company, is the most trusted source for news and information.
Contact: Karen Reynolds Karen.email@example.com 914-409-6404
HLN’s 2020 Programming Slate to Feature Five New and Six Returning Original Crime & Investigation Docu-Series Led by the Highly Anticipated “Forensic Files II”
FORENSIC FILES II, Narrated by Bill Camp (Dark Waters, Joker), Premieres Sunday,
February 23 at 10pm ET/PT With Back-to-Back Half-Hour Episodes Airing Each Week
January 15, 2020
– HLN (CNN’s Headline News), which airs live news programming along with long-form docu-series is adding five new Original Series to the roster, plus six returning Original Series in 2020, it was announced by Ken Jautz, executive vice president, CNN.
“Last year HLN doubled down on original series production exclusively in the crime and investigation genre, a longtime area of expertise for our network in both live news coverage and long-form programming. That strategy proved successful and gave the network a robust library of quality series that resonates with our audience. And this year, we are giving the viewers more of what they crave. Finally, after an eight-year wait, brand new episodes of Forensic Files, still the best-known of all crime documentaries, will air in February,” said Jautz.
FORENSIC FILES II (Series premiere Sunday, February 23; 16, 30-minute episodes) Long considered the gold standard of crime docu-series, Forensic Files returns after an eight-year production hiatus with 16 new mysteries, now produced by CNN Development for HLN under the guidance of executive producer Nancy Duffy. Forensic Files II, continues the franchise – featuring the amazing work of scientists and investigators who use cutting edge forensics to crack the most baffling criminal cases. Acclaimed film, stage and television actor Bill Camp (Dark Waters, Joker, The Night Of) is the narrator.