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Time to once again open my life up a little in order to share the plethora of wealth I'm about to absorb. I'm going to be back in Iraq through September, so hop on board and check back every couple of days, I'll do my best to update as much as possible. Questions? email@example.com And check out the site I'm working with: http://www.billroggio.com Support independent journalism!
Thursday, January 29, 2004
Since October, I have been planning a trip to Afghanistan. In particular, I plan to go to SE Afghanistan along the Pakistani border. The name of the documentary was going to be "Outpost Khost". The name has since changed (for now), but the mission remains.
The plan is to get to Bagram where we will be assigned a unit. We hope to rotate into the field with this unit, then rotate out again once their mission is complete. From this. we plan to produce a docu-series that will show the inside life of a small combat unit. We have some other plans as well, but for reasons, I won't say much more.
We have been fortunate enough to hook up with WBRA (PBS/Roanoke), who has agreed to sponsor our series. With this blessing, we have been working for the past several months for funds that will allow us to remain in the field for up to six weeks. To date, the efforts have been relatively slow. We expect that to change soon however.
Next week we will be receiving our grant proposal. We hired a professional service that is reknowned for its work in helping people like me to professionally and properly present our proposal. We hope this will help us secure the funding we need. For this reason and the fact that we are under the PBS umbrella has our hopes skyhigh that we will soon have the funds to complete this project.
With that said, imagine my delight and sadness at today's news. Seems as though we guessed right:
At the Pentagon, orders have been issued to prepare equipment and supplies for the coming offensive, although the operation will not necessarily require additional troops in the region, a defense official said on condition of anonymity. The upcoming operation, first reported by the Chicago Tribune, has been dubbed the "spring offensive."
Another Pentagon official declined to discuss the possibility that troops would extend operations to the Pakistan side of the border, where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) and top lieutenants have long been said to be hiding. But the official said that might have to be the next step.
Defense Department officials believe current operations in Afghanistan are not having the effect they want on the terrorist network and they are determined to do more, the official said.
Officials already have said they hope to finally capture bin Laden this year, a development that could benefit President Bush (news - web sites) in the November election. About 11,000 U.S. troops are in the region.
One senior defense official said Pentagon leaders determined a couple of months ago that it is important to catch bin Laden, more for the symbolism than for his military value.
"I can say that Osama bin Laden and (and former Taliban leader) Mullah Omar represent a threat to the world, and they need to be destroyed, and we believe we will catch them in the next year," Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, a spokesman for military forces in the region, told CNN.
I talked to Col. Hilferty today and we're still planning to be in country by April 1st. Obviously it all depends on securing funds. I spent an hour on PBS's "Blue Ridge Live" talking about my mission and I was featured recently in the local paper... still no bites though. Funny thing is, I'll probably find the money somehow and show the naysayers what's up. Then things will change.
This article is from the Roanoke Times:
Thursday, January 08, 2004
In the spring, Dave Tate plans to embed with the Marines or Army in Afghanistan for six to eight weeks and document the lives of the military personnel and Afghan people.
By Hattie Brown
Dave Tate earns his living shooting sports footage for Roanoke area schools, making video business cards and filming weddings, but what he really wants is some adventure in his life.
If everything falls into place, his wish will be granted in the spring when he heads off to Afghanistan.
Tate, an Old Southwest resident who calls himself a "battlefield tourist," has spent the past two and a half years struggling to shed light on international issues through documentaries. In the spring he plans to give it one more try with a trip to Afghanistan, where he will embed with either the Marines or Army for six to eight weeks. While there, Tate said he hopes to document the lives of the military personnel as well as the lives of the Afghan people.
"It's all about education," Tate said during an interview Dec. 12 in his living room, which also serves as an office. "It's covering underreported things that really, truly affect all of us."
From the plight of Hondurans who survived Hurricane Mitch to the Kurds in Turkey, the topics that Tate, 36, has explored go far beyond the boundaries of the Roanoke Valley.
Tate, who grew up in Keego Harbor, Mich., experienced for the first time what he calls "adventure travel" during a six-month stay in Hawaii. As a high school junior he picked pineapples and attended school there as a work experience through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
History and travel continued to intrigue Tate so much that he entered the Marines in 1985 after graduating from high school. He wanted to become a combat Marine but instead was sent to computer school. After three years Tate left the Marines to attend Central Michigan University. He transferred to Indiana University a year later and studied political science for five years, but did not complete his degree requirements.
Tate moved to Roanoke in 1994 looking to open a club and promote bands. But his interest in current events came in handy when a job became available at WSLS-TV in 1996.
"News is nothing but history in the making," said Tate, who said he has always loved history.
For five years Tate worked for WSLS, starting as a teleprompter, then becoming the New River Valley bureau chief. When his contract ended and wasn't renewed toward the end of 2001, he was covering Roanoke courts.
Working at WSLS taught him invaluable lessons about writing, reporting and photography, but in the end it wasn't the ideal job for him, Tate said. He said he prefers more in-depth journalism and covering stories beyond Southwest Virginia.
"If I'm going to tell a story, I want to tell the complete story," he said.
Tate emptied his retirement fund at WSLS and bought his own camera equipment, hoping to shoot his first documentary during a weeklong trip to Honduras. Through his work at WSLS, Tate met Karen Maffucci, a Roanoke resident who organizes groups of people to participate in medical missions to Honduras. In March 2002, Tate joined the group to document two Honduran relief efforts - Montana de Luz, a home for children with HIV, and Nuevo Paraiso, a development project for single mothers and their children. The trip became a turning point in his life.
"I've always been the adventurous type. It's just my type of personality," Tate said. "When I went down there I realized I could take pictures that affect people."
Tate used the footage to produce promotional videos for Maffucci's group, Helping Others Prospers Everyone, and a Honduran humanitarian organization called Sociedad Amigos de Los Ninos.
After the trip to Honduras, Tate began to raise money for future documentaries. As a war with Iraq became imminent, Tate decided to go to Turkey with the goal of finding a way into Iraq. His plan was to show the effects the war would have on the people.
"To me, it was important to be a witness to history," Tate said.
Heidi Krummert-Tate, Tate's wife of four years, said she was worried about her husband being in a country about to go to war but "would never want to crush a dream of his."
"I think he's probably got good survival techniques," Krummert-Tate said. " I would never ask him to not go."
Tate left in February for Silopi, Turkey, not knowing how he would get into Iraq. After a few weeks he was able to join about 300 other journalists who were going into Iraq for three days to cover an Iraqi opposition meeting. But by early March, Tate had run out of money and was forced to return home even though the war had not started.
Though Tate wasn't able to get footage of the war beginning in Iraq, he was able to find another story during the visit. While in Turkey, Tate met a man named Mehmet, a Kurdish shopkeeper with six children. Mehmet, 29, was struggling to survive; his business wasn't doing well because of a faltering economy, Tate said.
Tate spent time with Mehmet and filmed scenes from the man's life. Before going to Afghanistan in the spring, Tate said he plans to visit Mehmet again to see how his life has been affected by the war. He said he hopes the documentary, "Searching for Mehmet," will eventually air on Blue Ridge Public Television.
Tate has brainstormed future documentary ideas with several other multimedia professionals who form a collective called 13weeks, the media firm through which Tate makes his local video productions. They've discussed covering such topics as Southeast African children suffering from HIV and the drying up of the Aral Sea. Though it helps to be inspired and motivated by other creative people, Tate considers himself more of a lone worker struggling to have his voice heard.
"It's really just me and my dream," he said.
Tate's work with documentaries hasn't come without cost. He paid for the Iraq trip, for example, with his own money.
"I think video's a strong messenger but it's expensive," Tate said.
His goal now is to find a grant writer who can help him get about $120,000 to fund the trip to Afghanistan. Tate said he hopes that the Afghanistan documentary will be the first in a series of adventure travel films he'd like to create. However, if Tate's financial status doesn't improve after the trip, he may have to call it quits and return to working at a television news station. He recently accepted a two-day-a-week afternoon reporter position at WFIR-AM to supplement his income.
"You got a talent and you want to help people," Tate said. But, "after a few years, you either make it or you don't ... I've got to do something that pays the bills."
Jack Neal, president and general manager of Blue Ridge Public Television, has talked with Tate about the Afghanistan project and said it has potential for national distribution. Instead of creating a brief or sensationalist documentary, Tate has the chance to tell the full story.
"He has the opportunity with this to go back there and ... get a lot more depth," Neal said. "It's very much what public television is involved with."
Tate said he believes the Afghan people have a story that they want told, and he hopes that his camera will protect him from harm. He is only slightly apprehensive about the trip; he simply sees it as another one of his adventures.
"I just trust that I will be OK," Tate said. "It's just the type of person that I am."
I am DESPERATELY in need of funds asap. At a minimum, I need $10,000, which will get me there and give me a few bucks to pay the bills and buy body armor. This is tax deductable!!!!
Monday, January 26, 2004
We are calling this docu-series, "The Backseat War". The reason is obvious and is connected to the lack of attention on Afghanistan due to the invasion of Iraq. Some have asked me, "what slant are you going to take?". It is a valid question in a way, but only so based on ignorance of who I am.
First: I have decided that Afghanistan is the story because I believe that it is a story that would be noticeable enough on the PBS circuit to eventually be distributed internationally. In short: I want my show, "The Battlefield Tourist" to be a benchmark program on PBS that not only solidifies my crew, but also WBRA as players in the field of quality, independent programming.
So what are we doing? Without getting into too many details, the meat is that Ben and I will travel to Afghanistan where we will embed with an Army or Marine unit that is in an active combat zone. We plan to stay with this unit for up to eight weeks. During this time, we will produce dozens of segments based on the everyday lives of the soldiers and marines on the front line in Afghanistan. This docu-series will focus more on the efforts of these few dozen men instead of taking an empirical look at the situation in Afghanistan. Simply: The goal is to portray as accurately as possible, a day on the front line in the true "War on Terror".
Currently we have teamed up with WBRA (PBS-Roanoke) and we have begun the long and expensive task of preparing a grant. The grant money we are looking for will allow a two man team to go to Afghanistan. It allows for post production as well. Additionally, we are budgeting for an interactive website and a photo book to expand on the knowledge presented in the docu-series.
We are very excited about this and will begin sending out our proposal to various foundations in hopes of securing up to $120,000. To do this, we have hired Grant Proposal and research Services from Knoxville, Tennessee to help us properly prepare our grant proposal. We believe this extra effort in addition to joining forces with PBS, is what will put us over the top in which we will realize our dreams.
Be assured that if this first opportunity happens, we will be in a fantastic position to increase the likelihood that we will be able to continue producing this series of programming.
If this doesn't work, I expect to be back in local TV soon, knowing that I did my best.