Recently, there has been some hoopla in the media about how soldiers were portrayed in the box office hit "The Hurt Locker." Paul Rieckhoff, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America's (IAVA) executive director/ founder, wrote the following in a Newsweek article:
"The Hurt Locker tries to articulate that experience, but those of us who have served in the military couldn't help but be distracted by a litany of inaccuracies that reveal not only a lack of research, but ultimately respect for the American military."
While I haven't seen the movie and can't comment on it, I do want to note what Rieckhoff said in his conclusion:
"Americans want to think they know what the ground truth is in Iraq, but until Hollywood and the media give them the right information, our experience will continue to be lost in translation. So someone, do us a favor and tell our story properly. Or maybe Hollywood will help one of us tell it ourselves."
Well, Mr. Rieckhoff, here we are.
There are four other combat veterans involved in the Operation In Their Boots (OITB) project. The five of us are making short documentaries that will let people see what the veteran experience is really like. We aren't making Hollywood action movies and they aren't stories that have been dreamed-up by a script writer who has never served in the military. These are films about combat veterans by combat veterans.
After being selected from a large pool of applicants, Brave New Foundation invited us to a three day long filmmakers' boot camp that covered everything we need to know about the filmmaking process. We have budgets, camera crews, lighting people, and production assistants. More importantly, we have amazing stories.
Our movies won't lean to the left or to the right. We are shooting straight down the middle and offering the world an honest portrayal of the veteran experience.
We've have been given the rare opportunity to share our reality. And while that reality is often painful, it is a reality that people need to see. None of the OITB participants are taking this task lightly. We are going to work hard and pull from all of our resources to make the best films possible. Movies like "The Hurt Locker" might not get it correct, but we will. We have to. Our fellow combat veterans deserve that much.
Over the next few months I'll be posting pictures and updates about the filmmaking journey. Please feel free to ask any questions you have about any of our projects.
Follow Clint Van Winkle on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ClintVW