The making of Korea: Forgotten War, Remembered Heros
Preparing for the documentary
Profiles of those interviewed:
Preparation and Research
Understanding the History
Any history project requires a great deal of research. Our second documentary, Korea: Forgotten War, Remembered Heroes, is no exception. We were fortunate to have a historical referent, Steve Voguit from Flagler College, and a military advisor, LTC Greg Moore from the Florida National Guard to ensure that our understanding of the Korean War and the period between 1950 and 1953 was accurate. Several Korean War veterans provided expert information as well.
But this documentary had a challenge that our first film, Serve and Protect, did not. While the Korean War was fought by over a dozen democratic nations and spearheaded by millions of US troops, our military involvement in World War II dwarfs it in comparison. There were not enough Korean War veterans in our community to make a full-length film, so we had to advertise for veterans and screen them for suitability. We ended up with more than twenty-five candidates for the documentary. While all veterans had experiences worthy of sharing, our time and budget could only accommodate a half-dozen. Therefore, we focused on finding veterans and witnesses who could provide the most meaningful stories about the greatest variety of historical events.
Left to Right: SGM Ray Quinn, US Army, Ret., LTC Bob Bey, USMC, Ret. (Interviewee), Michael Rothfeld, (Producer), LTC Greg Moore, Historian FL National Guard, (military advisor for the film), and Earl Kidwell, (researcher and interviewer for the project)
We share some techniques here so that you may duplicate them with a family member or acquaintance. They may provide you with insights and conversations you might never have otherwise had. If you want to make a more formal documentary, the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress has a link called, “How to Participate”. You can follow those procedures and register your veteran and his/her memorabilia and artifacts with the American Folklife Center. But if you prefer a simpler exercise in history, here is a suggestion, based on our techniques:
- Print our interview form.
- Contact your veteran and ask him/her if she would consent to an interview about experiences in the Korean War. Tell the veteran how the interview will be used and whether you will be using any recording devices.
- Find a comfortable quiet location to meet. Plan on spending 30-60 minutes. If you are using recording equipment, set it up and test it beforehand.
- Conduct the interview and thank the veteran for the time.
- Review your notes (and recording). List any items you didn’t understand and arrange a follow-up meeting.
- If you want to know more background information about something your veteran told you, find a reputable source of information. A local library has resources and staff to help.
- Write or type up your interview results. Edit your recording.
- Share your information with friends, family, classmates, and the veteran.
- Thank the veteran and tell him/her how your project turned out.
Our co-producers, Earl Kidwell and Bill Napper, conducted our interviews. Since we planned to show our documentary to the public, we also had our interviewees sign a release form authorizing us to use their interviews and any artifacts they supplied in conjunction with the project.
Identifying the Production Elements
Over the summer we met with our partners at The Art Institute of Jacksonville to discuss logistics for filming. We also identified requirements for a website to showcase the documentary, help veterans connect and remember, and help the public understand the Korean War better.
LTC James Vanairsdale, USMC, Ret. (interviewee), Patty Worsham and Jack Ernissee from FVPPI leaving the Art Institute after a meeting.
Art Institute students and faculty started work on the documentary and the website in the fall of 2008. We expect to show the finished product on Veterans Day 2009. During the first half of 2009 we’ll be showing previews of the film in the St. Augustine and Jacksonville area. See our Events page for listings.