Director's Cut: Vietnam Veterans Experience / by Sonya Paclob


The worst feeling in the world as a storyteller is to cut out the most important information.

I covered the Vietnam Veterans Experience tent at the York Fair. The week long county fair brings animals, rides, and carnival food. Tucked in the very front of the fair near the exotic animals is the veterans tent.

The tent is purposely close the the Vietnam Memorial. The detailing of the tent was impressive. It recreated what it might looked like back in the day. Dried bamboo swayed on the sides. Bags of sand built about knee high and the standard camouflage with hole draped in the front.  

My assignment was to focus on the the National Geographic Vietnam map throughout the week. Vietnam veterans had a chance to sign their names and were given a number pin to place on the map. “Its a piece of property,” according to one of the man I interviewed.

In the last 5 days of the fair, it reached over 300 veterans pinning their location on the map. Many veterans spent at least an hour looking and chatting over the map. It's a conversational piece. Not for the veterans, but also for the younger generation.

A father and son approached the map with interest. It was Edward Vega and his son Ivean Vega of York. They would be perfect from an outside perspective on the map. I thought it would round out the entirety of the vision of my story.

I spend at least 4 hours in postproduction. I had the father and son’s clips saved, but their small sounds bites didn't fit the overall theme. It did not flow with the entire piece. I decided to cut their interview at the end.

I don’t want to be the bad person for cutting out my subject’s thoughts. I want to make sure I covered every aspect of age, race, and background. I had extra material to work with to tell the story.

I created a 45 second video to at least retain the main idea of showcasing the thoughts of being a veteran.

Watch the main video below, "Where Did You Serve?" ( 1 minute ) 

It took four days to shoot and produce the video. Video for the York Daily Record.