College students document Mannford fire victims' recovery

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Updated: 11/05/2012 9:15 am Published: 11/03/2012 10:17 pm

Three students from The University of Notre Dame spent the last three days shooting video and interviewing Mannford wildfire victims for a film class project. 

Patrick Nguyen is one of three students.  He is from Owasso and put the idea in motion a few months ago.  His class was assigned to pick a topic to do a 10-20 minute documentary about something they were passionate about.  

He remembered the Creek County wildfires from the summer.  They started just as he was packing to leave for his fall semester.  He wanted to do something to help then but had to go to school.

“I felt like I had to help out as soon as I heard,” said Nguyen. 

Johnny Whichard and Ana Christian are also involved in the project.

“All three of us, we kind of do everything,” said Whichard.  We are the shooters, the editors, and the interviewers.” 

They have been moved by some of the victims’ recovery efforts and by the community’s efforts to help people rebuild their homes. 

“It's hard hearing the stories,” said Nguyen.  “We interviewed a family yesterday and it almost brought us all to tears.  It was so heart touching.”

“We interviewed this really sweet lady last night, and she just broke down in tears in front of the camera for us, and all of us were in tears,” said Christian.  “They lost their whole home and her mother's home burned down.”

“These people don't want to be forgotten,” said Whichard.  “This was a big deal.  300 homes were lost.”

Their class grade is not as important as what they want to do with the documentary once it is complete.

“The grade is secondary to what we want to do,” said Nguyen.  “We want to help get this out and raise awareness that even though other disasters are happening around the country, there are people here still trying to recover.” 

The team plans to take the project to independent film festivals and see if they can keep every victims’ story alive.  

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