Producer's career highlight: Documentary that didn't make a dime

Bill Hines has produced more than 1,000 commercials for more than 150 companies.

He's worked for TV stations and production houses. He's owned Video Pros in Reno since 1999, and his work has been seen on venues such as The History Channel and PBS.

And yet, it's a 52-minute documentary shot on a three-day train trip a decade ago a documentary for which Hines didn't receive a dime that the video producer values most.

The documentary, after all, records the journey of 13 men toward restoration of full life.

"Vet Train 2000," which won first place in an international competition in 2001, will be back in the spotlight this month when The Moving Wall a half-sized replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. is exhibited at Rancho San Rafael Park.

Hines' documentary will be shown during The Moving Wall exhibit, which runs Thursday through Sunday.

Even today, Hines struggles a bit to keep his emotions in check as he talks about the making of "Vet Train 2000."

"It's a film of content," he says. "Tremendous emotional content."

The story is simple: Counselors at the Reno Veterans Outreach Center in 2000 believed that a journey to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the shadow of the Washington Monument might help bring closure for 13 Vietnam-era veterans.

Hines kept his cameras rolling during the Amtrak journey as the veterans talked about their experiences.

They talked about nightmares. Friends left behind. Silence about what they'd seen.

"All the time I've been out of the service, I've never talked about the war much," one told Hines' camera.

And Hines tells a bit of his own story: Thirteen months in Vietnam accompanying crews that rescued downed air crews, filming their work and often staying under direct fire himself for long minutes.

He joined with the veterans at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial as they found the names of friends who had been killed, left flags and medals in tribute and conducted a small service to begin emotional closure.

Returning home to Reno after the Amtrak journey to Washington, D.C., Hines struggled for five months to edit the videotape and create a documentary.

"As a vet myself, it was very difficult emotionally," he says.

The completed documentary won first-place gold in 2001 at the Aurora Awards, an international competition.

But more important than international awards, Hines says, is what he hopes to be the lasting impact of the documentary.

Television commercials come and go. Corporate promotional videos are quickly forgotten. But Hines hopes the documentary for which he wasn't paid a dime will stay around far longer.

"This is something that people should see," he says. "To make a difference that's what I wanted to do."


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