“Final Days In Saigon” Directed by Ashley Enright

By Mikel Fair / a few months ago
Final Days in Saigon Ashley Enright

Col. John Madison's Account Of The Final Days In Saigon by Ashley Enright

Final Days In Saigon, is a documentary film directed by Ashley Enright is a 2018 Oregon Documentary Film Festival Official Selection. This is a Vietnam War Documentary that focuses on the evacuation. The story of the 1975 evacuation captivated the audience. During the Q&A some attendees admitted that they learned very little about the Vietnam War in school. One person was very surprised to learn that the United States lost this war and was forced to evacuate. Final Days In Saigon won the Best Editing Award the was been nominated for the Best Short Documentary Film Award. Several attendees came to watch and support this specific film at at the Oregon Documentary Film Festival on Friday May 25, 2018. Synopsis "Follow Col. John Madison as he remembers his final days fighting in the Vietnam war and his experience with the helicopter evacuation in Saigon. April 29th, 1975 marked the beginning of what would become the worlds largest helicopter evacuation on record. While serving as a negotiator in Vietnam, Col. John Madison became involved in the organizational process of the final phase of the evacuation of Saigon. In this documentary, he shares his story of that day."

Final Days In Saigon Ashley EnrightScreen Shot 2017-06-30 at 1.32.23 PM

Interview with Ashley Enright (Part One)

  1. Why did you think that the Oregon Documentary Film Festival was a good place to submit and screen your film? "I thought the Oregon Documentary Film Festival was a good place to submit my film because I liked the fact that it was a newer film festival that focused on documentary filmmaking. Unfortunately, I think a lot of times documentaries are overlooked and under appreciated. When reading about the festival, it seemed like nobody’s film would be over looked or judged unfairly."
  2. Is there any special meaning to the title? The title, Final Days In Saigon, relates directly back to what the film is about and the experience of Col. Jack Madison, the star of the film."
  3. Why did you choose to tell this particular story? "This particular story is one that simply fell into my hands. I was not planning on making a documentary, but the moment I heard about Col. Jack Madison and his story, I immediately wanted to meet him and hear more. It was important to me not to let his story just slide by and go unheard."
Final Days In Saigon Ashley Enright Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 10.36.41 PM

Interview with Ashley Enright (Part Two)

Did you discover certain story elements during the production of this film that you never expected to find in the planning stages of this project?  "I think there are always elements in production that are not expected, especially in documentary filmmaking. When interviewing someone for a project like this, you never know what is going to happen, what they are going to say, or how they are going to answer the questions you ask them. That is one of the wonderful things about documentary filmmaking; it is unpredictable. When starting the project, my mind was very open because I really didn’t know how the project was going to go. I knew that Col. Madison’s story was amazing and what he had experienced was something I wanted to share with others, however, I didn’t know if anything would translate on to film and connect with an audience in the same way his story connected with me (and others) when talking to him directly."

Final Days In Saigon: Documentary Cameras And Gear

What camera(s) did you use to during the production of this film? Discuss any advantages or limitations that you may have run into, from an equipment perspective.

"Fortunately, I was attending a school that gave the students access to amazing, high-tech equipment. I also worked with peers of mine who made it extremely easy for me to focus on directing and working with Col. Madison while they handled the equipment. The only very minor setback we had at times was the fact that it was very very windy in Colorado the day we filmed and even though we were inside, we were still picking up gusts of wind from outside. We were able to work around it though and stop momentarily when the big gusts would hit."

Tello - STEM Coding Mini Drone.
Final Days In Saigon Ashley Enright Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 10.33.58 PM

Interview with Ashley Enright (Part Three)

Did anything happen during the production of this film that was very interesting, but never made it on camera?  "There were SO many moments that were very interesting that unfortunately did not make it into the final film. Col. Madison told the story so well and went into details that I had to cut out in order to make the film work in the end."

How did you fund this film?  "This was a very low budget film. I was able to use equipment provided by my school so I did not have to pay for equipment. My peers helped me out and Col. Madison was generous enough to allow us into his home to film him for the interview."

Interview with Ashley Enright (Part Four)

What kind of audience reaction are you getting to this film? Discuss any Positives or Negatives that you feel comfortable talking about. "The audience reaction has been great. People seem to be intrigued by Col. Madison’s story and can’t believe what he says at the end during the credits. It is such an incredible part of the story that I don’t think anybody knows about."

Do you have plans for a Final Days in Saigon sequel or future film that you are working on?  "As of right now I do not have any plans for a sequel. However, Col. Madison not only served during the Vietnam War, but he was feet on the ground in the Korean War. Although I have personally talked to him a little bit about his experience in the Korean War, it would be incredible to do another full interview with him and make another documentary about his experiences in Korea."

Ashley Enright: Advice For Other Filmmakers

You have completed a documentary film, which is a huge achievement. Do you have any advice for a future filmmaker that is about to start a documentary project? Advice that you wish you had been given before you started yours?  "My advice for future filmmakers starting a documentary is to keep your mind open and enjoy the learning experiences that come in making a documentary. Many people will give you advice on what they think is best or the direction that they think you should go with the film, but it is ultimately your film and your decision. Just stay true to the story you are telling and you will do great!"

About the author

Mikel Fair

My name is Mikel Fair. I am the Director of Film Festival Circuit Inc. First of all, we are a company that manages film festival events in Texas and Oregon. Furthermore, we like to have fun and celebrate independent film. I worked for 15 years in the television and film production as a location sound mixer and production manager. I have also worked in post production as an editor, post sound mixer and composer. Above all, watching independent films and reading creative screenplays is my passion.