Some people come into your life for a particular reason. Your encounter with them, for however long or short, has tremendous impact. The impact so strong, their influence sends you in a new direction.
Im fortunate enough to be able to account numerous amazing and inspiring people who have came into my life and changed my paths. Their impact so great.
One person in particular is Harold Martin. A ninety five year old gentleman that lives in my hometown, Albany, in Western Australia. Harold wandered into my life a few years ago. He has been coming into my parents restaurant for many years for a morning coffee and my mother has got to know him over the years and learn about his story. Over the past 5 years or so, Ive also got the honor of getting to know Harold as well, when I visit my parents at Christmas and other times throughout the years.
It was Christmas day in 2011, that was the very beginning of what was going to become a major shift in my life. I can relate so many things that have happened in the last 7 months to this particular decision and I am so thankful for all the opportunities that have come my way because of this.
Sitting around the dinner table, talking with my dad about the year ahead, dreaming about our travels as we normally do, he tells me how he is going to take Harold to Myanmar (Burma) in March. A trip for Harold to visit the grave sites of his mates that were killed during their time spent working on the Burma Thai Railway as Prisoners of War. Myanmar had finally opened up after years of Military rule, and now they were welcoming tourist back into their country. Harold had been searching for these grave sites for many years and was eager to go back to finally say goodbye to them.
Without hesitation, I told my dad, I needed to come on this trip to document his story. His story is important. It is a story that I believe needs to be told and shared. It is a story worth telling.
These are the types of stories I want to document, to share and to let the stories be heard.
I had no idea of the impact this project would have on me.
I spent the next three months teaching myself as much as a possibly could about video and audio equipment and the art of documentary film making. I invested thousands of dollars in new equipment and flights and off I went.
The 4 days I spent in Myanmar were incredible.
Since then I made this short 2.5 minute video, just to be a trailer of sorts. I have some grand plans and dreams of what it will become.
The project is a combination of stills, video and audio. I did all the filming, photographing, audio (and with some help from my darling parents who helped with the microphones both in Australia and Myanmar), editing, directing. I did it all. I want to do so much more. This is just the very start of a new chapter.
A little more on Harold Martin..
Harold Martin was a prisoner of war in World War II. 15,000 Australian soldiers were captured by the Japanese in the fall of Singapore in 1942. After he was captured, he spent two long and brutal years working on the Burma "Death" Railway. Many of his friends died while working on the railway due to illness and being executed for attempting to escape. It is estimated that 16,000 Allied prisoners died while working on the railway.
Harold survived this ordeal but was then shipped to Japan on one of the notorious "hell ships". While being transported to Japan, the convoy of Japanese ships was torpedoed by US submarines. The ship Harold was on sunk and he managed to survive by clinging onto a makeshift raft. After 4 days drifting in the ocean he was rescued by USS Pampanito along with 72 other Allied soldiers.
70 years later, Harold, who is 95 years old travels back to Burma for the first time to visit the grave sites of three of his mates that are buried in a Commonwealth war cemetery near the village of Thanbyuzayat.