My name is Bill Dumas and I produced and directed “Missing, Presumed Dead: The Search for America’s POWs.”
I originally got involved in trying to tell the story of my uncle Bob Dumas’ unrelenting search for his brother Roger while was finishing my BA in Journalism during the late 70’s.
I wrote a magazine article about Bob’s mission but wasn’t able to find a publication that would believe American POWs were abandoned in N. Korea.
In the early 90’s I was a Fellow at the American Film Institute and wrote a feature screenplay about Bob and Roger for Oliver Stone’s company that had become interested in the story. Unfortunately after the release of the film, JFK, Oliver decided he wanted to step away from political films.
The script was then read by many of the major and minor studios in Hollywood and although the response to the story was very positive there was an uneasiness about doing a story that accused the U.S. government of abandoning POWs.
About four years ago I had the opportunity to produce a documentary film and I realized that this would be the best medium to expose the story of abandoned POWs.
Over the course of this production I’ve met many POW/MIA advocates and learned about many organizations working on this issue for many year.
I realized that most of the American public was unaware of the fate of many of our missing POWs. In fact some said they always wondered what the word “Powmia” meant on the POW/MIA flags.
When I would have test screenings of the film throughout the production process I realized most of the audience was learning about abandoned POWs for the first time and after seeing the rough-cuts of the film there was a overwhelming feeling of outrage and that something had to be done immediately to resolve the POW/MIA issue.
This response gave me a strong feeling that if the film could reach a wide American audience it would cause a public outcry that would force the government to finally deal with these missing servicemen instead of whitewashing the issue as the Senate did in 1992.
It was clear to me that there would need to be a unity of all political camps to bring this issue to the forefront of government policy. That’s why this film brings together such conservative Senators and Congressmen as Bob Smith and Bob Dornan along with liberal activists like actor’s Ed Asner and Peter Coyote.
Without a non-partisan unity on this issue we will never lead our government into action.
This film began as a personal story about Bob’s search for his brother Roger and was originally title: “The Day the Eagle Cried.” But the scope of the film continued to widen as I interviewed more and more people involved in this issue.
It was originally planned as a one-year production but now 3 1/2 years later the film is finally nearing completion.
This project was produced through a non-profit arts organization in New London CT called Hygienic Art, Inc. Hygienic Filmwerks is the part of the organization that helps filmmakers fund their project.
Although we’ve received many generous donations from contributors, we’ve only raised a small portion of the total budget. No one working on this film received a salary and had to work on it in their spare time.
Eventually we collected over a hundred hours of footage created a 4-hour rough-cut and eventually a 2-hour first edit.
At that point we were fortunate to sign a distribution agreement with Seventh Arts Releasing, a very reputable documentary distribution company in Los Angeles. Udy Epstein the owner of 7th Art was so passionate about this story that he came aboard as executive producer on the film and was very instrumental in the final editing process.
Seventh Art is hoping to find as wide an audience as possible for the film. They also felt it was necessary to change the name of the film to “Missing, Presumed Dead: The Search for America’s POWs” in order to reach that audience.
I’m hoping that his film will instigate the public to demand the government take action to repatriate any American POWs still being held against their will around the world. And to end a general policy of abandoning POWs when military conflicts end.
This film tells only a minute portion of the complete POW/MIA story. I’m hoping that donations to this non-profit effort allows us to continue producing a series of documentaries about POW/MIAs because this is a very big and overwhelming story that needs to be told.
Bill Dumas received his MFA from the American Film Institute where he collaborated with AFI Fellows, Miguel Arteta, Karen Janszen, Tom Dey and Yvonne Chotzen. He interned at Paramount Pictures for Marvin Worth (Malcom X) and Albert Berger (Election, Cold Mountain, Nebraska) and for Propaganda Films in the production of Candyman.
Earning a BA in magazine Journalism from California State University, Long Beach, Bill went on to serve as reporter, music reviewer, managing editor and art director for several newspapers and magazines in Connecticut.
Bill produced the award-winning documentary, Missing, Presumed Dead: The Search for America’s POWs, which screened in the U.S. Congress. His fourth feature documentary film, “Duty, Honor, Country: Betrayal” about homeless veterans in Los Angeles has screened at several LA venues including the Craft and Folk Art Museum.
Bill produced and directed the music documentary, The Reducers: America’s Best Unsigned Band and also produced and co-directed the film biz documentary, Doing Unto Others.
He wrote, produced and directed the feature film, Unto Others, starring Bob Cicchini (Godfather III), Charles Gunning (Newton Boys) and Duane Whitaker (Pulp Fiction.) Bill also co-wrote the Playboy/Mystique film, Talk Sex and the upcoming comedy for Baron Jay Films, The Condo.
He co-produced Duane Whitaker’s, Camp Utopia and was associate producer of Whitaker’s, Together and Alone, starring Joe Estevez, Dan Roebuck and Casey Siemaszko
Bill’s 35mm short, Through the Walls, produced in the Panavision New Filmmaker Program, was a finalist in the USA Film Festival.
Bill served as Video Production Director, Webmaster and Veterans Coordinator for the Ron Paul 2008 Presidential campaign. His campaign videos received several million views on YouTube
He was Asso. Professor in Film Studies at Connecticut College and the National Theater Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center (the institution that inspired Robert Redford to create Sundance.)