Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Updates--One Week Changes A Lot!

Wow, so much has changed over the past week! Surry is back in town, and it has been great to reconnect with him about the progress of the project. And, I have been getting a lot of feedback about this blog. It has been a very helpful tool to take others with me on this filmmaking journey. It makes me feel like I'm not working on it alone, and that's wonderfully encouraging.

Without further ado, here are some updates:

Last Thursday and Friday I worked with Surry on the film equipment. I spent my lunch hour on Thursday going over the details of the items I needed to create a detailed invoice. The people at Southeastern Camera were so helpful and patient with me. And to have Surry's support in getting top quality equipment is most excellent. It is very refreshing to be partnered with someone who values quality as much as I do. If you are going to do it, then do it right! I truly appreciate sharing that value with him.

Dad's camera has been incredibly helpful over the past weeks. It's given me the chance to jump in there and get things going, without waiting to have my own equipment to move forward. It has been great to grab that Pelican case and just move forward. And now that I have some of this new equipment to keep things moving forward, I can 'go well and go like hell' as Surry says!

We purchased two film lights, two lapel mics, a camera, tripod and carrying bag. I worked with the equipment over the weekend to get comfortable with it and to be sure I am using it properly. The camera won't be available until Friday since it's on back order, so I am anxious to try the mics and lights and camera all together. While I thought I wanted to go out and just buy this equipment while Surry was out of town, and I am ever so grateful to have waited. I don't think this could have worked out any better!

More Time with EG and Charlie
Last Saturday I spent more time with EG and Charlie. We spent about an hour or more on-camera, and then they showed me some of the artifacts they brought back from Vietnam: pipes, loin cloths, baskets that are worn on the back, high heel shoes from Saigon, knives and spears. Very interesting tools to see! Being the daughter of an archaeologist, I think I was in heaven.

The whole afternoon was very rewarding. It has been so interesting to hear how God used Charlie and EG in Vietnam, and how he spoke to them during their time there. I am so thankful that I have the chance to share these stories because so much negativity is associated with Vietnam. They told me about the kindness of the soldiers they met, and I would really like to share that.

Their opinions and experiences have been very helpful because they are often so different than that of those who served in Vietnam during the war. They lived there before the war, and it is almost like having the view of a native. That makes me very excited to speak to some of the Montagnards as I get more comfortable with the interview process. Speaking to the Montagnards will be an exciting step.

I find myself learning how to switch between left and right brain. I'm very left-brained when thinking about the project scope, business angle, marketing and communications. All left-brained when planning the project or setting up equipment, and then having to switch to the other side when I start the interviews. It makes me understand why film crews are so large. It helps to be able to focus on just one aspect of the project at a time.

A Thousand Words: Photographs by Vietnam Veterans
http://ncmuseumofhistory.org/wgo/press_04242008.html. I went to see it over lunch tThe N.C. Museum of History has an exhibition up right now:oday, and really enjoyed the photographs. If you get a chance to go, please do! There are lots of photos and each one is explained.

Martin Tucker, who sent out a request to any Vietnam vets for any photos (and got a huge response), put together the exhibit. I have sent an email to the museum to ask for an introduction to Tucker. He conducted interviews with each of the vets and recorded them, which is very exciting! To know that someone else, locally, is doing almost identical work is so exciting! I am so anxious to speak with him and to learn about his experiences working on the project.

While just speaking with Tucker would be very exciting, I am hoping that he might want to get involved with this project as well. His exhibit focuses on the war from the veteran point of view, and while my project is focused on the Montagnards specifically, you cannot have one without the other. To ignore his project would be absurd, and I hope that we might start a discourse. I am so hopeful that we might be able to get in touch with each other and share this exploration through history.

What I liked most about the exhibit is his explanation of the process he started in 2003:
Martin says an important, unforeseen benefit emerged as the exhibit progressed. Through the photographs, the veterans found a way to express what they could not say. Silences about the war were broken between husbands and wives, family members and others.

“Photographs weren’t just dropped off at my office,” he states. “The men wanted to talk. Three decades later, their experiences remained fresh and often just below the surface.”

After selecting the images for A Thousand Words, Martin and his team of volunteers and students invited the veterans back to tape interviews about the photographs. Their gripping words range from the anguish of fighting near the Cambodian border to enjoying a 1966 Bob Hope Christmas show or finally taking a field “shower” in a rice paddy in 100-degree weather.
Next Steps
The next two interviews will happen this weekend. Mike and Greg are coming into town on Friday, and Surry has offered a chance for us all to meet that evening after I get off of work. Then we will have a chance for interviews on Saturday. I'm looking forward to it, and want to be sure I get the most out of this coming weekend because they are coming in from out of town. If all plans go accordingly, it will be the first time I use the new camera with the lights. I used the mic for the first time last Saturday and think it worked well. I am still waiting until I have a moment to go through the footage to be sure.

There are so many next steps! I have a lot of work to do, but am very thankful to have this momentum going. Surry and I are planning to have this wrapped by this fall, so a lot of this work will have to conclude in the coming months. It's exciting, and I am wroking to try to figure out how to make it happen!

If you have any connections to video editors, please let me know. It would be truly helpful to find someone that can work on the project as a partner since I don't have any outright funding. Or, hey, if you have anyone who wants to provide funding, that's super helpful too!

I'm off to celebrate my birthday over dinner with the family. So thankful for a chance to connect with them! Hard to believe I am close to the big 3-0 now!