Their Own Words: The B-17 Flying Fortress at War” 13 part
of the “The Air Combat journal Radio Hour” project
Their Own Words:
The B-17 Flying Fortress at War”
1995 CAPS founder and president Jon Cermin has been videotaping
first person stories from WWII Army Air Corps personnel; primarily
those associated with the B-17 Flying Fortress. It was the original
intent of CAPS to produce a thirteen-part documentary on the B-17,
from its inception prior to WWI, all the way through its many
roles in aerial combat, to its many post war roles.
to budget problems, the B-17 series has temporarily been put on
the back burner as CAPS president Jon Cermin continues to interview
B-17 crewmembers for the 13 part documentary series. He is currently
searching for Luftwaffe pilots and German flak gunners to complete
the interview process. If you know any of these individuals, please
there are enough interviews “in the can” to complete
this project (with the exception of the Germans), we are in dire
need of funding to complete this project. A one hour pilot episode
on B-17 Aeromedical Factors (Episode VII) has been completed,
but it will take approximately $780,000 to complete this entire
13 part series.
this may seem like an exorbitant amount of money, consider that
typical programs for the History Channel, Travel Channel, Lifetime,
etc. start in price at about $2,000 per finished minute. The “In
Their Own Words” series will cost about half of that price,
mainly because Jon has been working on this project since 1995
at his own expense and in his spare time. Much of the production
work has already been done. The expensive part now is the post-production
work (editing, graphics, music, etc.)
production is expensive because CAPS has to outsource nearly all
of this work. While CCPI owns and has donated all of the production
equipment to date (cameras, lighting equipment and microphones)
and most labor needed to shoot the interviews, CAPS has to rely
on outside vendors for a majority of the post production elements.
These include editing, custom music, 3-D graphics, errors and
omissions insurance, archives combat footage and duplication to
name just a few of these expenses. And while we can amortize most
of these expenses over the entire thirteen episode series, it
still comes to about $78,000 per episode.
this time, we have planed for each episode to be one hour in length,
so this is still way under the $ 2,000 per finished minute quoted
earlier. In fact, we have so much material, we may even stretch
each episode to two hours.
we get going again with the B-17 series and it is completed, CAPS
will pursue documentaries on other WWII aircraft and their crews.
We foresee interviewing aircrews as an ongoing and almost daily
process. A number of B-24 crewmembers have already been interviewed
in anticipation on producing a B-24 documentary. Soon we will
also begin interviewing veterans from the Korean War and the Viet
Nam War; however, the WWII vets are our current priority due to
their high mortality rate.
order to keep CAPS in the public eye, it was decided to take some
of the interviews that have been recorded to date and first turn
them into one hour radio programs, and then when finances allow,
turn them into one hour TV shows. Another advantage of doing this
is that producing these one hour shows would be considerable cheaper
than producing the In Their Own Words: The B-17 Flying Fortress
at War series. Once started, the Air Combat Journal radio shows
could even be financially self-sustaining (which is very important).
is currently seeking financial support from foundations and benevolent
entities for this purpose. What follows is an excerpt cut and
pasted from our grant application which details the plans for
Air Combat Journal. Note that this will produced in two phases.
Phase one would be for turning this project into a radio program.
Phase two, whose details are not listed below, will be for the
Air Combat Journal television series. If you know of a benevolent
foundation or entity, please CONTACT
Combat Journal Description of Request
purpose of this letter is to request funding for Phase One for
the “CAPS Radio Hour” radio program, which will cover
thirteen one-hour episodes. With his full time for profit job,
family responsibilities and civic commitments, CAPS president
Jon Cermin is not able to dedicate enough time to complete these
radio shows in a timely manner, i.e. one per week. Outside freelance
and/or volunteer labor will be required to meet this goal. We
can meet this goal with financial assistance in the amount of
$3,564 per show. This will cover the cost of hiring outside contractors
to edit radio shows, as well as cover expenses for material and
is a very cost effective rate for this type of programming. In
comparison, the professional audio engineer who had mixed the
music for the first two shows (for B-17 pilot Dwight Olson and
B-24 pilot Larry Bachman) bid $2,550 to just add and license the
music for the shows. His fee did not include editing the narrative
prior to adding the music, recompiling the edited audio to the
video, section titles and graphics, or editing in sound effects
(CCPI bought a sound effects library for this project, and these
effects have been donated to CAPS as needed). His bid also did
not include any duplication or distribution.
element that drives up the expense of any broadcast program is
music “broadcast rights”. This is above the cost of
procuring the music and the labor of mixing the music into the
show. Broadcast rights can vary; the aforementioned audio engineer
in Dallas in his bid quoted $500 to cover “broadcast licensing”.
First Com, a well-known music library in Dallas, Texas, quoted
CAPS $3,200 per show just for broadcast rights of their music.
This figure did not include the additional $1,500 to lease their
music library for one year.
appears that the best means of keeping production costs down is
to contract a composer to score original music for CAPS. There
are several advantages to this. One, our music themes will be
unique to CAPS programming. Two, we will own the music in perpetuity,
and thus not have to pay annual fees for leasing a library (First
Com wanted $1,500/year). And finally, we will have better control
over broadcast rights. We’ll still have to pay some broadcast
fees to our composer and union musicians, but we can control these
better as we’re not paying the huge mark up and sales commissions
of for-profit music libraries. CAPS is currently in negotiations
with composer Bob Parr, who is a well known and established composer
and sound mixer on the east coast.
in paying for an original music score, which is estimated to be
approximately $10,000, this can still be cost effective for two
reasons: One, it can be amortized though hundreds of individual
shows; and two, because so much of the other labor and equipment
has been donated by CCPI. This includes the labor and equipment
to do the video recording, the videotape stock, the editing equipment,
and the sound effects library. If these expenses were billed rather
than donated, it would easily triple the cost of this project.
Goals of the “The
Air Combat journal Radio Hour” project:
#1: To preserve on broadcast quality videotape the oral histories
of WWII Aircrews.
#2: To edit these interviews into informative, educational and
entertaining 48 minute narrative programs (the length of one radio
or TV broadcast hour, or a high school class period).
#3: To disseminate the history and heritage of our WWII Army Air
Corps veterans to a mass media audience as well as high school
history and civics classes.
#4: To give the interviewees a keepsake in the form of professionally
produced DVDs of their oral history for the education and enlightenment
of their descendants.
1. To distribute WWII oral histories to a mass media market on
a weekly basis.
2. To give interviewees a personal keepsake to be passed on to
children and grandchildren.
generate income from:
from radio show listeners
corporate sponsorships of the radio show.
To get regional and eventually nationwide media exposure to CAPS
so that we can:
a) grow CAPS membership
b) identify more veterans to be interviewed
c) raise funds to perpetuate our mission
project cannot continue at a meaningful pace and grow without
outside funding. Many of those veterans who have been interviewed
will never see their completed stories. Because of work conflicts
and family commitments, Jon cannot produce these programs on his
own at a fast enough pace to meet our goals. The clock is running
out for many of the veterans that have already been interviewed.
We at CAPS would really like to honor these veterans with a gift
of historical preservation; by giving them the recognition they
deserve by telling the world their stories of heroism and devotion
to our country, and by giving them a keepsake that their heirs
will be proud to watch and pass from generation to generation.
We’d like to send these keepsakes to the original interviewees,
not their surviving families. Time is not on our side. We hope
you will help us in attaining our goals and objectives. For more
information on this project, including funding requirements and
a line item budget, contact Jon at firstname.lastname@example.org.