Easton Filmmaker Readies Vietnam War Documentary
Reda Productions is seeking footage from that era
After taking on World War II in their WWII in HD series in 2009, Lou Reda Productions is moving onto Vietnam.
The Easton-based documentary studio is readying The Vietnam War in HD to air on the History Channel in 2011, said Scott Reda, executive producer on the project. But first, the studio needs to complete its hunt for footage.
"There's probably more footage of Vietnam in the private sector than in public," Reda said, sitting in his office on Second Street.
So he's asking anyone who has film from that era -- be it 8 mm or 16 mm -- to consider lending it to the studio. They'll clean it up, digitize it, make a copy, and return it to the owner.
And it doesn't necessarily need to be footage of combat, or soldiers in the jungle. Reda said they're looking for home-front footage as well. Like the World War II film before it, Reda said the aim here is to tell the story of the war from a variety of perspectives.
It's a little more challenging with Vietnam, Reda said, where the average tour of duty was one year.
With a World War II documentary, a filmmaker could follow a character through three or four years, similar to what HBO did with its Band of Brothers miniseries (a series Reda referenced more than once during the interview).
But with Vietnam, a character who appears in episode one -- slated to be set in 1965 -- wouldn't necessarily still be enlisted in 1975, when the series is set to conclude.
At the same time, that might work to the filmmakers' advantage, said Sammy Jackson, who will be directing the series.
"Vietnam was a chaotic experience," he said. "The show has to reflect that."
Liz Reph, who's producing, said the viewers will be willing to invest in a number of characters, provided they're part of a compelling story.
"It's all about great stories," she said. "Whether it runs for 45 minutes or four hours, our job is to get them connected."
The studio has Vietnam films before, "but never through the eyes of soldiers like this," Reda said.
They're still trying to finalize the "cast," that is, real life people whose stories will be told in the movie. As in the World War II film, a collection of actors will voice the soldiers. WWII in HD had a voice cast that included Gary Sinise, Rob Lowe and LL Cool J.
"We wanted actors to act, to really get inside the characters," Reda said. "It really resonates with the viewers."
They haven't found actors for the new film, but Reda said he expects it will be a cast the public recognizes, and one that will help attract viewers in the coveted 18-49 age range.
"The old documentary style, it's not flying anymore," Reda said.
It's been difficult getting Vietnam documentaries made, he said. "Traditionally, Vietnam doesn't rate well," Reda said.
But he argues that's changed over time with a younger generation.
"The young people, people under 50, they're curious," he said. It's an event that happened before they were born, or when they were too young to understand it.
But like the World War II film before it, he said this isn't meant to serve as the last word on Vietnam.
"It's the war through 12 characters," Reda said. "We want to tell a story about the war, but we want to contextualize it."