By Marc Speir
University News Service
November 5, 2007
Whitney Milam (Photo by David Racino)
Texas State University-San Marcos public history graduate student Whitney Milam’s film, “Sniper ‘66,” received a Lone Star Emmy Award Oct. 27 for “best historical documentary” from the Lone Star Emmy committee.
The Lone Star chapter of the Emmys is a regional arm of the
“Sniper '66” was previously honored with a 2006 Telly Award for “outstanding historical television documentary.”
Milam’s documentary, which examines the Charles Whitman murders from atop the
The 42 year-old native of
“Around 80 percent of the books I read are history-related,” Milam said. “I’ve been able to further develop my documentary skills at
Milam’s examination of the murders ignited interest in the wake of its 40th anniversary last year. The tragedy held the solemn title of bloodiest school shooting in
Some also consider the unborn child of a pregnant woman Whitman killed as another death along with a wounded man that received kidney dialysis due to Whitman’s shot who died 30 years after the incident. The disturbing record was eclipsed by the massacre of 32 lives at Virginia Tech in April.
Milam’s program originally aired as a 23-minute news feature on July 30, 2006, for KTBC-Fox 7.
“After the shorter version came out, I was contacted by people that saw it and had other things to say about what happened that day that gave a lot more depth to the story, so I added onto it,” Milam said. “Television is very regulated by national companies in terms of time and exposure and the 26 minutes or so of content that I got just wasn’t enough.”
The expanded one-hour “director’s cut” premiered in the Alkek teaching theatre on campus in the fall of 2006 and included a discussion with many personally involved in the assault. Those attending included Ray Martinez, one of the two officers that killed Whitman, numerous bystanders and survivors of the slaughter, and Gary Lavergne, author of A Sniper in the Tower: The Charles Whitman Murders.
The documentary, utilizing eyewitness accounts and reenactments filmed within Whitman’s former home, shows different perspectives to the mass murder and contains never before seen footage of the shooting as it unfolded.
The film includes interviews with Martinez, Lavergne, former KTBC reporter Neal Spelce, director of KLRU Gordon Smith, Brackenridge Hospital surgeons Robert Pape and Albert Lalonde, and former University of Texas president Larry Faulkner.
Milam has produced past documentaries on Lady Bird Johnson, the bombing of Pearl Harbor and its effect on Texans, and the history of the KTBC television station as it led up to its 50th year in Austin.
“Whitney has actually been in the field of television production for quite a while,” said Frank de la Teja, state historian and chair of the Department of History. “It shows off his dedication to the craft of combining reporting with a historical perspective. The historical weight and value he’s put into it is what we’re proudest of.”
Milam said that making any documentary requires the producer to be extremely interested in the subject matter.
“You’re going to be writing, researching, editing, re-shooting and seeing the same stuff over and over,” Milam said. “You’d better have a passion for it.”
Milam and public history graduate student Stephanie Jarvis recently completed a short documentary examining the history of the
Anyone interested in obtaining a one-hour version of “Sniper ‘66” can contact Milam via e-mail at: email@example.com. Copies cost $20 and are available by check or money order payable to KTBC-Fox 7.