We're really doing it!
As I speak, I am on an EVA Airlines flight from Chicago to Taipei, flying over the space that separates Alaska from Russia. A fitting metaphor for this cinematic trip back to a time when the Vietnam war was a tragic manifestation of misguided east-west tensions.
Now, Vietnam is a thriving tourist destination and a new generation has largely moved past the war. Still, we hope to find traces of the Saigon that my brother Jimmy knew in 1972. With a dedicated crew in Saigon of American expatriates and Vietnamese film experts, we will begin shooting in about 36 hours. It's hard to believe this dream of mine is finally becoming a reality.
Will we find the people whom Jimmy knew in Saigon in 1970-72? It's hard to predict. We have some clues, but no major discoveries yet.
Stay with me on this journey and let me know your thoughts. I am always thrilled to hear people's impressions. Here is some relevant and hopefully interesting information I sent in my last e-newsletter - if you haven't seen it yet, here it is...
Our application to the Vietnamese government for official filming status has been accepted! Costs of filming in Vietnam are unusually high as I need to pay for flight, hotel, daily fee, and related costs for two people - a private "fixer" and a government "minder" for each day of shooting. So despite careful budgeting and prudent spending, this trip will likely exhaust nearly all remaining funds currently in our account.
Once I arrive I will be working with a Saigon-based American cameraman (Bret Hamilton
- check out some of his work here
) and film crew to retrace my brother Jim's footsteps, visiting places he used to live and travel. We will also make concentrated efforts to locate people he knew who might still be alive.
We've already gotten a head start on our search for Jim's friends. Jason, a friend living in Saigon, has begun to pass around pictures of Jim's friends in the neighborhood where he used to live, and with the help of our cameraman we've been able to film and photograph this part of our search. (Photos by Bret Hamilton)
(Jason asks locals if they recognize Jim or Jim's Vietnamese friends)
(Neighborhood residents examine pictures of Jim's friends)
(New friends try to point us in the right direction)
I want to thank you all for your continued support and interest in this project, and can't wait to bring it all together.
As the year draws to a close, I want to invite those of you who have invested to consider re-investing. While the $20,000 raised this past summer was a beautiful and exciting start, documentary films usually cost between $100,000-$400,000. Once we return from Vietnam, our funds will be nearly depleted and we will once again be in need of revenue for editing costs and for further interviews in the US. Please consider giving
- this independent documentary film can really use your support. As an added, anyone who gives $50 or more starting today through December 15th gets a souvenir from Vietnam.
A small donation gets a small souvenir - larger gets a bigger one!