Warren G Branch
Gunner,
Gaulke Crew 602
492nd Bomb Group
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Karen Cline
Blogs  (Updates, insights and ramblings from Alejandro Mena and his Team) . . .
Posted Monday, March 12, 2018 by Alejandro Mena    

Forward? Backward? Forward it is!

I am an avid reader of books. I've been keeping a book journal since January of 2014 and I have averaged 35 books read per year. That's a lot of books! Some are deep, serious reading. And some are just fluff. Light reading to entertain the soul. The majority of books have some sort of forward and dedication to someone at the beginning of the book. A few days ago, I decided to read "The Songs of Distant Earth" by that master storyteller, Arthur C. Clarke. As I was turning the pages, giving the forward a cursory look, An interesting thought occurred to me.

The forward is a sort of hello from the writer. Often, it is the summary of the book you are about to read. The who's, the why's, the reasons for the book being written. A lot of the books I pick up are used copies which are 10-15-20 years old. Sometimes, older than that. And BAM! it hit me. Those words, those lines of dedication. Those thoughts put to paper so many years ago, they spring to life immediately my eyes reads them for the first time! It is as if they are frozen a moment in time, waiting. Just waiting. For little ol' me to come along and read those lines, and then of course, to read the book that follows. If the book was published 30-40 years ago, it could very well be, that the author has slipped this mortal coil and gone on to that great big reading room in the sky.

I realized that CREW 713, for me, is much the same experience. Every time that I open up a work DVD of one of the veterans we have interviewed, they spring to life once again. Many of these men are no longer with us. We were very lucky to capture as many of their interviews as we did, before they passed into antiquity. George Worthington. Milton Goodridge. Bob Cash. Charles Bastien. Bob Scott. These men were wonderful interview subjects. They were vibrant human beings...and then, at some point, their life force was extinguished. They became a memory for family members, to be mourned and eventually to be remembered with fondness. But for me, it is something more. Maybe because, 10 years ago, I took up the burden of telling their story. For me. Every time, I edit a scene, every time I work on a scene or update the script, they are still very much alive for me. When I pull out a work DVD to review and locate a key moment to use in the film, in that time that I see their faces on my screen, they are still living breathing witnesses to the bomber wars of WWII. They will continue to live because we won't allow them to die.

So we go forward with the film, CREW 713. But we reach backward, in time, to tell these stories of ordinary men performing extraordinary deeds.

ps...the forward above is from my favorite author, Donald Westlake, for his book "Thieves Dozen" If you want to have a laugh or two, please settle down with this collection of short stories featuring the unlucky New York burglar, John Dortmunder. Or read any of the Dortmunder novels Westlake published over a period of 30 years. They are hysterically good reading. Dortmunder and his gang will keep you in stitches. Enjoy!

pps...What are work DVDs? When we interviewed these veterans, we shot the footage in an HD format. With most editing systems, it is quite easy to pop in a hard drive and view your work footage, with time code burn in. However, most folks, myself included, are not privvy to high end editing systems. So, my editors decided to make work DVDs (with a time code burn) which I could easily view and make notes. The time codes corresponded exactly with the HD masters, so when we went into the editing suite, we could use my notes to quickly access the proper footage. It makes for a seamless and quick edit. I know what I want to use in the scene, my script has the proper in and out TC numbers (example: Bob Scott interview IN at 13:04:47 and OUT at 13:05:02). My editor knows where to locate this 15 seconds of footage and Walla! Bob Scott says, "While we were in Trinidad, and this is how Brad remembers it, we found a sign painter and bribed him with a bottle of rum to paint the name that Brad had chosen for our airplane, The Silver Witch" and now you know.

Alejandro Mena
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