Paying Homage to Korean War Veterans in Documentary
1 Mar, 2014
Filmmaker Conor Timmis pays homage to his late grandfather and others who fought in the Korean War, from 1950 to 1953, in his documentary Finnigan's War.
Whether it be about a family, a superhero, or a solider at war, film can convey the depth of the human spirit and what feats it can accomplish. Conor Timmis, from Middletown, CT, does this with his documentary Finnigan’s War. Timmis brings us in to his grandfather’s gripping story of the Korean War, through interviews with Korean War veterans, combat footage, and powerful animation. One cannot help but be inspired by the brave Korean War veterans who share their experiences. Timmis developed his film in memory and tribute to his late grandfather, Korean War veteran John Finnigan, but also to create awareness and appreciation of all Korean War veterans.
As Timmis traveled across the country to make Finnigan’s War his journey transformed into an unexpected revelation. “As I kept filming, it became less [primarily] about my grandfather and more about the other veterans, ” explained Timmis. “This project lasted the same amount time as the Korean War–three years.”
In a sense, Timmis began his journey in making Finnigan’s War when he was a child, listening to his grandfather’s horrifying stories about the Korean War. “Initially [the stories] were about him and his experience, ” Timmis reflects. “He grew up as an orphan in New York during the depression. His story is really like the American Dream stereotype-he worked hard and came from nothing.”
Many years later, Timmis attended the Korean War’s 60th anniversary on June 25, 2010, at the Washington D.C. Memorial, where he met his first interviewee, Kristian Blanchard, son of Korean War veteran Thomas Wayne Blanchard. Timmis’ filming in D.C. spiraled into a full-fledged documentary.
Timmis sought grants from various American companies to fund his project, until his father suggested seeking the support from somewhere further from home: Korea. Timmis contacted the CEO at Poongsan Corporation of South Korea and received a substantial grant, as well as a small grant from The Deupree Family Foundation later on in post-production.
Timmis gathered veterans willing to tell their stories on camera. “Believe it or not Facebook was a very useful tool, ” explained Timmis. “It’s a small world on the Internet.”