Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Full Day of Filming

What an incredible day. My sister and I were so exhausted Friday night that we crashed really early. I think I fell asleep seconds after we turned out the lights. Because we went to sleep so early, I was wide awake by 7am. It was actually kind of nice to wake up naturally, having rested so well.

By 8am, we were on the road to Mike's place for the interviews. We stopped to pick up some breakfast (most importantly coffee), and were on our way. He lived just minutes from the hotel, so we got there in no time. Mike met us downstairs and helped us carry up my equipment.

With two of us working, the camera and lights were ready to go fairly quickly. My sister (Adger) left when we had it all set up, and headed to Ikea to go shopping. I have been SO thankful to have her here with me. Not only is she incredibly generous, but she's one of the best travel companions a person could ask for on the road. She has been absolutely essential to the success of this weekend's filming, running errands and helping at every turn.

Mike and I sat down to chat for a bit since we were ahead of schedule. I asked him to show me some of the articles and photos he had mentioned previously. He pulled out a notebook full of articles he's written about the Montagnards and what's still happening in Vietnam. His dedication is unfailing, and his knowledge has been so valueable in my quest for understanding. The same is absolutely true for Greg, who has shared insights about what's happening today and helping me understand the politics of the situation. Both are committed to making a difference for the Montagnards, and continuing to help them learn how to make things better for themselves.

Both interviews concluded by 6pm. A long, very productive day I believe. It was incredibly helpful to sit down with Mike and Greg a second time. Today really helped solidify so much of this information, and I feel like I have come a long way since the beginning of the project. Each day presents learning opportunities, and I am enjoying every minute of it. Without going into too much detail since I'm quite tired, I'll simply say that I believe whole heartedly that this is where I am meant to be, and a project that I am meant to be working on.

At one point during the day, we chatted about why this information is not more public. It was an incredibly interesting topic, which oddly turned to a conversation about social media. We talked about how our nation is changing, specifically how our attention spans are shortened. For having obessively studied social media and how it's changing how we get our information, it was rather refreshing to have someone else bring it up in conversation!

I'm back at the hotel now, scanning in copies of Mike's articles and some photos he's loaned me. We'll return them to him tomorrow, and then hit the road early. I had hoped to capture footage of the building where the U.S. Department of State resides, the White House and other DC landmarks. However, I tentatively have plans to return to DC in December for another interview. At that time, I could capture more b roll.

There is much work to be done. This weekend feels like a great step forward, which is absolutely delightful. I'm finally over being sick, and finally moving forward full speed ahead again. AND, I feel like the film is taking shape in my head and I'm so anxious to edit it together.

It shall be done!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ready for Sleep!

What a long, delightfully exhausting day.

Woke up around 4:15 and finally left Raleigh at about 6am. Arrived in DC safely and started filming at Arlington National Cemetery. Then filmed the Vietnam War Memorial and other key landmarks. Finally back to the hotel around 6pm, and completely wiped out. Relaxing just a bit before preparing for tomorrow's interviews and then crashing early tonight. Weather wasn't great, but it held out beautifully. The fall leaves against the darkness of the trees was stunning. A great day for taking still photos. I can't wait to review the footage.

Also, if you care to follow us on the trip, I'll be texting updates here:\cammicam! I can also upload photos taken with my cell phone to my Facebook profile, so if you're on there friend me and view photos I upload instantly! Here are a few nevertheless!
Kennedy Center

Washington Monument

I made blueberries on Thursday so we could have something yummy for breakfast. We gave two to ladies at a ticket booth later that day, and they were so happy!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

15 Minutes Goes a Long Way

So, I've been blogging here and sending updates via Twitter to my Facebook page. Social media is absolutely impacting how this film is made, and it is fascinating to experience. I have been sending out messages about this project at various times to (1) help me record the process and (2) share where we are with those that want to know more about it.

If you're not familiar with it, Twitter is a website where you can send out short messages. I've started following a lot of people I may never have met in real life, one of which is Leandra Ganko (@tlkativ) in Durham, N.C. Yesterday was Veteran's day and she posted a message about her father who served in Vietnam that said, "Dad, thanks for risking your life flying over hostile territories to save the lives of our soldiers on the ground in Vietnam. I love you."

So, I sent her a message (Twitter limits you to 140 characters), asking her if her dad new the Montagnards, and told her about the project. She told her dad. Her dad told her to tell me to call Col. John Hope who works with the River Rats. I called him over lunch today. He told me to speak to Mike Benge. He also shared that they were having an event on the 18th in the DC area, where a lot of folks would get together and tell war stories. In 15 hours, two new friends were made and in 15 minutes I learned a quick overview of the amazing work the River Rats are doing. And, let me tell you, it's heart warming.

The River Rats, officially known as the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots, were formed to help the families of those who served (like with education scholarships). Their sister organization, the Air Warrior Courage Foundation, also does equally amazing things for the families of vets. It sounds like a great group, one I'd like to learn more about once we get things in gear with this film.

Also in relation to social media, two old friends from high school connected with me on Facebook this week. One of them is a filmmaker, who just shared a music video he made. Another is a talent manager in the entertainment industry, managing an artist he thinks might have something to offer a future project.

Social media is definitely impacting the way this film is made, and while some people still aren't convinced it's worth their time, I can easily see how it's going to make this film impact people's lives. The folks I have met through this project continue to amaze me, and I hope I can do for them what they are doing for this project.

My time before the trip to DC is dwindling, and as I grow closer to our oh-dark-thirty departure, I get more and more excited. My sister has agreed to join me on the trip, which has put me at ease greatly. On Friday we'll capture footage in the city and on Saturday I'll sit down with Mike Benge and Greg Stock again to talk with them on camera.

Should the weather hold out for us, it promises to be a memorable weekend in my life and in the life of this project. We are moving ahead in excellence, and I am eager to start post-production once we conclude our filming.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Final Plans Taking Shape

Well, final plans are coming together for my trip. I'm getting lots of contacts and information on where to go and what to do while I'm there. This will be a short trip, but I plan on squeezing as much out of it as I possibly can.

My friends laughingly call me a Planner, but I am flexible when things don't go according to plan. Perhaps, instead, I am a Preparer. Better to be prepared with all of the information than not when the opportunities arrive, I believe.

Anywhooo, I leave at 0-dark-thirty on Friday morning and have a full weekend of hustle and bustle when I arrive in VA/DC. Much to do, little time to do it. Maximum efficiency is a must for this trip. But I also have to remember to be kind to myself so I don't have a relapse...I think if I get sick one more time, I will not handle it with any patience.

Greg and Mike and I are all preparing for our interviews, a fact I am most excited about.