Irish Veterans Revisit Korean Battlefield

I recently had the honor of creating a short piece about Korean War veterans from Ireland who had returned to Korea after 60 years. Being a lover of documentary filmmaking, there couldn’t have been more rewarding task for me.

The video was broken down into 3 shoots; two of which were assigned and one which I decided to add to the project.

A monument was erected at the War Memorial of Korea to commemorate the battle of Happy Valley where many lives of Irish soldiers were lost in the Korean War.

The first shoot was at the ceremony for the new monument. My main goal was to get basic coverage of the event. The biggest challenge was the fact that it was raining and therefore everyone was limited to staying under tarps. I typically don’t shoot live events with a DSLR camera so I decided to rent a Sony Z1 and go that route. I ran a Zoom H4N into the audio board of the event for clean sound and set up to shoot the event. The event was one that was quite emotional so I felt that I was provided with lots of content to capture. One of the hardest shots to get was the shot at 1:15. This was really hard to get because of the tight space to shoot in. I was very thankful to get it because it really added emotion to this event and the content felt very genuine. Another challenging and fun part was shooting the angles of soldiers saluting to the monument. I was in the rain, in a small group of photographers and cameramen, with a rain jacket on the camera, waiting for that perfect moment to appear in front of my lens. It finally appeared and I felt I had a shot for my edit.

As the event was being wrapped up and as I was packing my gear, I met a documentary photographer who informed me that the veterans’ next stop was at the national cemetery. It wasn’t a part of the assignment but I figured since I had a Sony Z1 for the next 6 hours, it would be a good idea to head there to shoot more footage. I took some wide shots and close ups of the tombstones and headed off to a ceremony where they burn incense to pay respects to those that passed away in the Korean War. Although I do love the look of a DSLR camera, not having to change lenses and being able to zoom in with the camera mounted to a tripod was extremely liberating. In certain situations, you just can’t get close.

The third piece to this was the interview process. Due to both extreme limitations of both time and space, we conducted three 10-15 minute interviews in one room that was thankfully large enough to be able to switch angles for the interviews. They were shot on a 5d Mark 3 and it’s ability to capture amazing images in low light truly shined. Hearing the stories of these veterans was truly a blessing and I felt very grateful for their hardships and sacrifices that they made for the freedom of Koreans.

The final piece was putting the story together in editing. I truly felt that this was an easy and enjoyable process because there was so much to work therefor the edit was easy.

All in all, this was not only a very successful project for me but I was very grateful to have done this for work. I hope to carry-on making more videos around these types of topics.