Bravo! The Project - A Documentary Film

Other Musings

October 15, 2010


Working on film reminds me of working on written stories. You gather a lot of informational threads, stimuli from a number of different areas and then braid them together into a creation that has a fetching beginning, a plot with rising action, and an epiphany (or climax) that you hope will shock your reader or viewer’s eyeballs, clang their ear drums.

It’s strung together, then cut and pasted, and honed and sharpened and deleted and added to. The big difference is that one craft requires only words while the other requires words, video, music, and other types of sound and film.

Thank goodness for film editors and videographers. I know the story of Bravo!, and I know the characters who endured and survived, but it takes a technician to put it all together so that it runs like sand out of an hourglass—smooth.

Betty and I have had the pleasure of working with Mark Spear in that regards, as well as on a healthy part of the video shoots. We also have had other help from Drew Allen and Brian Crowdson and Jesse Hassler, as well as Betty herself, who shot three interviews while on our trip back east.

Today we are putting our trailer (preview) up on YouTube and Vimeo for anyone to view. The players in the trailer are the men we interviewed in San Antonio in July, 2010, at the Khe Sanh Veterans annual reunion. The other five men we interviewed on our journey across America, plus Boise State University’s Dr. David Walker (whom we will interview later in our process) are not in the trailer but will get full exposure in the film.

As I watched this 2-minute and 35-second piece, I felt my pulse race a little, and I suppose that’s for a number of reasons. I was looking at the fulfillment of a dream, a promise I made to myself 42 years ago after leaving Khe Sanh that this was a story I needed to tell. I helped make this snippet of film. I helped conceive it. And now I was looking at it. Shuddering, then feeling sad. Yet laughing once or twice—that old black humor from Khe Sanh still lives!

Watching the trailer, I also marveled at all the work that went into making just 2 minutes and 35 seconds of film and for a moment felt dismayed that we need to fashion 90 minutes of the real, living film. But then I got excited…it’s like imagining a novel or long short story. Something pithy and moving, scary and humorous, palpable, clutchy and gnawing at your insides. A piece of art waiting to be created. A piece of history; a movie. So onward. We move onward.

You can look at our video trailer at YouTube or Vimeo at

Semper Fidelis


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