Portfolio: Tax Analysts 50th Anniversary Tribute | LAI Video

50th Anniversary Tribute

LAI Video partnered with Tax Analysts to create a 50th-anniversary tribute to the people behind the mission of this venerable tax policy research group. Unlike so many talking-head, walks-down-memory lane retrospects, this 13-minute mini-documentary tells a surprisingly gripping and insightful look at an organization that’s been defined as much by its groundbreaking stories as by its colorful cast of characters.

Start at the Start

Working closely with Tax Analysts' leadership, Tiffany and Victoria jumped into pre-production, assembling a comprehensive timeline of events over a half-century’s worth of content. It was clear from the start that Tax Analysts had a particularly fascinating story — from the rogue actions of its founder (who once purchased an oil well to prove a point) to the numerous front-page news stories by its journalists, the organization’s key players earned a reputation for making headlines as much as writing them. Weaving these milestone moments together into a cohesive story would take an involved filming schedule, extensive editing and some other creative tricks.

Making History

Guided by Tax Analysts' crack internal historian, our team took a deep dive into the organization’s 50-year evolution. This research included a hardy review of historical documents (like, real paper ones), which also inspired the animated graphics used in the final film. Justin, our scriptwriter, conducted his own research of the researchers, drafted parallel outlines — one that would follow the journalists’ name-making stories about missing corporate profits and presidential scandals and another that followed the maturing culture of a start-up entering its adolescence. But even as our team sat down with the interview subjects, it became apparent that there was far more surprises left to uncover.

The Characters Emerge

With so much content to cover across five decades, our job would be capturing the whole arc of the organization while leaving room to explore the individual voices of our main characters. From Tax Analysts' founder Tom Field to its current president, Cara Griffith, the folks who appear on-screen gave our team more than enough material to “find” a meaningful story in post-production. Anthony, the editor responsible for refining the tribute into its most compelling form, had lively, engaging interviews to work with.

Across the Homestretch, From Home

Edited through the worst of the pandemic months (and ultimately supplemented with one last filming session as quarantine restrictions eased), the final tribute is every bit as polished yet quirky as the organization it features. Anthony's masterful edit lets the interviews shine while conveying viewers effortlessly through the whole sweep of Tax Analysts' long, policy-wonky history. Most importantly, it successfully combines the historical with the celebratory, couching the organization's mission within the story of the people who make it all possible, without skipping a beat. Like all great documentaries, especially ones about tax policy, it's full of characters that pull you in. And like a great anniversary video, it leaves you excited to find out what the folks at Tax Analysts will do next.