Alumna Makes Vietnam War Alliance Documentary

Camden Watts, ’03, has just wrapped a documentary film that sheds light on a forgotten piece of the Vietnam War.

As a Meredith student, Watts majored in studio art, minored in professional communications and concentrated in graphic design, preparing her for her current career. She describes her work as “all things creative and entrepreneurial: writing, photography, design, marketing, communications and social media.”

With a working title of "Abandoned Allies," her project focuses on the alliance between American troops and Montagnards, Vietnamese indigenous tribal people, who were loyal to American Special Forces.

"[The Montagnards] served with us in hopes of obtaining their own independence and they still struggle today nearly 35 years after the end of the war," Watts explained.

Watts started the project in 2008 with her mentor Surry Roberts, the film’s executive producer and a former Green Beret in Vietnam. Roberts originally hired Watts as an assistant while she was a Meredith student. He has helped Montagnards over the years who have immigrated to the United States. Watts and Roberts have interviewed 15 people for the film, both American veterans and Montagnards, who were involved in the alliance.

"My role in creating the documentary is probably best described as producer or director, although I did the majority of the filming as well," Watts said. "My role has involved researching, interviewing, filming, building a team of volunteers and making sure that production keeps moving."

Watts thinks the timing is right for "Abandoned Allies."

"This is an interesting time in our country’s history," she explained. "We have a means to leverage things like the Internet and social media to elevate a cause, and make a real difference."

Now that Watts has completed the film, her team will show it in North Carolina, Washington, D.C., and possibly Chicago, enter it at film festivals, and find an organization to help them distribute it more widely.

"The film has a universal audience," said Watts. "It is truly meant to unite a broad, diverse audience even though it is about a very specific group of people."

Watts says that working on this film has been a dream come true and hopes for more projects like it.

"Filmmaking is something I have been passionate about for a very long time," said Watts. "Producing films feels like a good fit because it is a marriage of entrepreneurship, collaboration and creative efforts."

Date Submitted: 2009-12-17

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