Friday, June 26, 2009

Frequently Asked Quesitons

Many people have been asking me questions lately about our documentary film. I have noticed a trend in some of the questions, as they get repeated, and have lately thought this is a great foundation for web content. There are the expected items for any doc film website, but I wanted to generate an FAQ section based on real life interactions, and feedback from my networks online.

Here are the questions most commonly asked:
  • What's the film about?
  • How did you get interested in this topic?
  • How did you start the project?
  • How are you making the film?
  • Who is working on the project with you?
  • What equipment are you using?
  • Where did you get funding?
  • Did you go to Vietnam?
  • Where are you making the film?
As we continue with post-production, interest in the film has been growing significantly. We're committed to finishing is as soon as we can, but at a pace we can handle since it's a bootstrapped effort and many of the team members work full time elsewhere.

So, are there unanswered questions you have had, too?
I'm happy to answer any questions you have about the film via this blog. It'll also help us develop the FAQ section of the website when we get to that stage in the project. As interest grows, I anticipate that the website will need to go live soon (at least a first version before we get the logo, brand, ID, etc. developed and finalized).

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Creatures of Habit

Humans are creatures of habit. So, I'm going to do my best to keep updating this blog at least once a week. Conversations today lead me to the understanding that I'm so focused on finishing the film, that I am neglecting other areas of the film's development. This blog is one of them. I took a double, then triple, look at the date of my last entry. It's been more than a month since I last posted something!

No doubt, a lot has happened since then:
  • Matthew (or Doc, as he is nicknamed by our mutual friends) finished digitizing all of the footage, which has been an absolutely tremendous support. He's also been very helpful in keeping me sane, telling me the emotions that I'll go through as we embark on the post-production journey.
  • We finished transcribing all of the interviews, and I have a notebook full of dog-eared, poorly numbered pages.
  • Matt has also started coming over to edit the footage, muddling through my maddening notes. He's a patient being, and is earning his place in heaven for his work. He's been helping me figure out what we'll need to do once the first draft is finished: tweak transitions, edit the audio so it is all similar, pinpoint where we want animated graphics and images, etc.
  • And, my biggest, most exciting film news recently: We now have at least one minute of edited footage on the timeline!
It's been a painstaking process, but one that is clearly worthwhile. Every step of the process has proven that this project is SO much bigger than just me, and those that immediately surround me. We, as humans, need to know that we're a part of something bigger than ourselves, I think. This film is definitely proof of that. It's not just a film about the Montagnards and Special Forces, it's a film about humanity, how we treat one another, the art of war, individual sacrifice, and consequences of our actions. Above all else, it's about keeping promises.

Every time I meet a soldier, the film naturally comes up in conversation. They are fascinated, I believe, by the discovery in a casual conversation and the fact that (1) a woman is making a film about the Montagnards and Special Forces, (2) I know the term Montagnard, and (3) how I can see the connection between the Vietnam War and the war overseas today. It has happened several times over the past few months, and each time the response has been something to the effect of, "Please do us right. Tell our story, and let everyone know."

It genuinely brings tears to my eyes as I write it. I remember how they stare me dead in the eye, asking with such authority and simultaneously with such helplessness. I frequently feel so small and insignificant, but at those moments I realize that I've been charged with something so huge.

Next Steps
There's so much work left to be done, but we are moving along at a pace that we can bear. I work full time (as do many of my other volunteers), so nights and weekends are film time. But sometimes those things get interrupted by things that life brings with it: supporting family and friends, chores like paying bills or cleaning house, and every now and then mini-vacations to keep ourselves balanced.

Once we get the first draft finished, we'll review what we have and possibly reorganize some of the clips. At that point, we'll decide if we need a voiceover or not. Then we'll identify where we need to use still images, music and animated graphics. Once we get that official director's cut ready--the draft that is as polished as we think it can get--we'll show it to select audiences (or test groups) to see what the reactions are to the film. I think I'd like to have a few different test audiences. After that, we'll likely have some tweaks to make. Somewhere in there, we'll bring in the marketing / communications team. (Yay! Something that's familiar territory.) Then we will finally start to release it to broader, bigger audiences. And from that point forward, I imagine, it just might be coasting from there.

We'll need things like a learning center to share info about the Montagnards and Special Forces, bios for the cast and crew, a photo gallery, etc. And I imagine that we will need a press kit with some of that information available for download.

I'm incredibly anxious to keep things moving forward. But, I promise to keep updating this blog more often. It has clearly been neglected, which contradicts the amount of work that is still happening on the film.

Yes, I'm quite excited. Surry gave me another pep talk today. It was exactly what I needed to hear, and I'm so eternally grateful to him for the unending support and guidance he continues to provide. Perhaps I'll convince him to one day work on an autobiography! He's a fascinating person, full of talent, passion, wisdom, surprises and amazing stories.