During the summer of 2013, Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s office requested FRCC to produce a documentary on woman war veterans that would span from WWII to the present. This documentary would be added to the Library of Congress as part of their Veterans History Project, which hopes to collect and preserve stories from our war veterans. Eight MGD students, including myself, were selected by Brandon Berman, head of the Multimedia Graphic Design department, to be part of a unique class during the 2013-2014 school year that would be creating this documentary from start to finish.
We began collaborating with Kathryn Wirkus, a representative from Rep. Perlmutter’s office and retired lieutenant colonel from the Air Force, who would oversee our work. Under the guidance of Brandon, Kathryn, and Jay Shaffer (who has become the uncle of the class), the eight of us jumped into the project. Everyone was assigned a role during the interview process, ranging from being the interviewer to working behind the scenes with camera supervision, sound recording, lighting, makeup, and scanning photos and other documents from each interviewee. Some students also took on additional tasks to create the graphics and animations that will be going in the documentary. Over the course of the shortened semester, we completed five interviews in ten weeks at the FRCC studio or at the homes of admirable women with incredible stories. Each week, we came away in awe of these women and what they experienced during their service. We were thanked for giving them a chance to tell their tales, but they had no idea how much we were honored to sit down and talk with them.
As the fall semester ended, we had to figure out a plan to finish all the interviews and put everything together in time. To keep the momentum going and make up for lost time at the beginning of the semester, we decided to push through five more interviews over winter break with a skeleton crew consisting of whoever volunteered. Students and staff invested their own time and resources to travel to Colorado Springs for back-to-back interviews over a weekend and completed three more interviews in the FRCC studio. These efforts served as springboard for our incoming additions for spring semester as our class size nearly tripled to 21 students. We gladly welcomed the extra talent, since the most challenging part was still to come: post-production.
Of the ten women we talked with, we had a Marine and a WASP from WWII, a Marine from the first Female Engagement Team in Afghanistan, and veterans from Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Vietnam, Iraq, and the Gulf War. Now that the interviews are complete, it’s time to extract the best pieces and weave them together with a script written by FRCC’s own Dr. Cecilia Gowdy-Wygant and narrated by Tony Heideman (both in the FRCC history department), 2D and 3D animations, music, photos, and war footage. The final product will be distributed to approximately 100 high schools around Colorado and women’s studies programs at a few universities. It may also be entered into film festivals and broadcasted on TV. Our goal is to fit everything into approximately an hour-long documentary that properly honors the service of these women.