Several unknown mysteries surrounding John Lennon’s death took center stage in the lower level of Western’s White Hall during the making of the first two webisodes of the web series, “The Night John Lennon died… And so did John Doe.”
Upon a request made by Saundra Shohen, the Roosevelt Hospital ER Administrator who was present during Lennon’s death, Professor Louisa Burns-Bisogno wrote a screenplay to adapt Shohen’s story to screen. She went on to write a fact based mystery novel, which is now adapted as a web series.
According to Burns-Bisogno, co-executive producer of the web series along with Shohen, the morgue van driver scheduled for Lennon refused to take his body because he had an order for two John’s. The other body scheduled for departure was that of John Doe, an unidentified elderly deaf man.
Burns-Bisogno said Doe’s death reminded her of a suspicious death that she witnessed. Through further research, she connected the man’s death to a land fraud incident she investigated for her deaf brother. After many years of dedicated research, Burns-Bisogno believes she has uncovered a far-reaching scandal that has destroyed the lives of many deaf, handicapped and elderly people, including her brother.
The web series reveals many unknown facts about Lennon’s death. Annie, the character based upon Shohen, searches for critical missing evidence that was believed to be lost or taken from Lennon’s room in the hospital.
According to Burns-Bisogno, a still image that is used in the web series was taken moments before Lennon was shot. A police officer who was called to the murder scene gave the image to Shohen because she was helpful during the tragic event. Shohen kept the image for many years until she let Burns-Bisogno use it for the web series.
The original screenplay was chosen by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for a special event on HBO, and almost made it as a show on NBC.
According to Burns-Bisogno, the first webisode received rave reviews from important people in media including the former media director of the United Nations, Georges LeClere, and soap writer Julie Poll. In addition, two producers from Italy are planning to interview Burns-Bisogno in the first week of March.
Dr. JC Barone teaches digital film and video production at Western. He was originally casted to have just a few lines, but his role continues to grow with every webisode. In addition to playing the role of Dr. Flores, Barone will also direct some of the episodes.
Barone said this web series is an example of how much film-making has changed over the years. The democratization of film-making went from a tight little funnel to go through to get anything done to an abundance of methods that can be used to distribute works and promote creativity without being filtered.
“The story of John Lennon is tragic enough, but then there’s the other story of John Doe, which is just fascinating and also tragic,” said Barone, “And it’s a true mystery story, you don’t know until the end who done it.”
Brittany Nisco is a Western media production Alumni. She is a co-director of the web series along with Burns-Bisogno. Nisco owns a production company called Brittany Nisco Productions, LLC.
The main vision of Nisco’s company is to create well-produced, thought provoking, creative movies; combining both industry and undiscovered talent. However, the John Lennon webisode is completely run by Louisa Burns-Bisogno’s production company, World Media Workshops.
“Louisa has always had a clear vision in mind for this web series; it’s finally her story from 20+ years ago coming to fruition onscreen,” said Nisco, “I’m very happy that I’ve been able to help in the process of bringing her vision to life.”
“The story itself is based off of real events so pop culture history is woven throughout the storyline. Even though the story takes place in 1980, the issues that are being dealt with could still be happening today,” she added.
Christian Gagnier is a communications Alumni at Western. Gagnier did such a tremendous amount of editing for the first webisode, he had to lessen his responsibilities for the second webisode so as not to neglect his job at Media Services. He decided to stay on as a producer for the second webisode; securing the cinematographer, camera operator, and editor while providing all necessary equipment to the audio crew. The current editor and camera operator is Steve Golden, a Western media arts Alumni.
“I’d tell students that the possibilities of what you want to do are boundless at this moment,” said Gagnier, “It’s never been easier to get your hands on equipment to film, record audio, edit, etc.”
“Without money, people will not take you as seriously as you believe you should, but you need to overcome that with drive, focus, and above all a product that people can view as valuable and worthy of their time,” he added.
Many students are members of the cast and crew, most of whom have taken Burns-Bisogno’s script writing classes. Burns-Bisogno originated the Writing for the Web class at Western four years ago. The class teaches students how to adapt story-telling for digital distribution.
Burns-Bisogno said that since she is constantly encouraging students to use the new media, she should set an example and use the new media. She decided to move past story, and start doing production.
“This hands-on experience in web series development is a vital learning experience for our students at WestConn,” said Burns-Bisogno.
The web series has closed captions for viewers out of respect for Burns-Bisogno’s family, and is translated into French, Italian, and Spanish.
The next big move for the web series is to build a fan base. Webisode 1 received over 1,000 views in its first week, and is expected to reach 5,000 by the end of term.
Webisode 2 is expected the air on Feb. 27.
Here’s the link to Webisode 1: