The War Tapes Blog

The War Tapes: A Thank You to the Team from Deborah Scranton

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A Thank You to the Team from Deborah Scranton

As a film director you hope that your vision is realized, that what you imagine as being possible in your mind will actually end up on the screen in front of an audience. The genesis and making of The War Tapes has been a two and a half year odyssey, an experiment in authenticity and a new type of web 2.0 documentary filmmaking. Seeing it up on the big screens in Tribeca, playing to packed houses was an exquisite moment for all of us. During the Awards Dinner, when we heard jurist Ken Burns announce The War Tapes as the winner of Best International Documentary Feature Film in the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival all of us were ecstatic!

No film is made alone, by its very nature, it is a collaborative art form. Our creative team is filled with talented, deeply diverse and committed individuals. The long hours each spent in the best interests of this project are immeasurable. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them from the bottom of my heart: Soldiers with Cameras - Zack Bazzi, Mike Moriarty, Steve Pink, Duncan Domey and Brandon Wilkins, Producer – Robert May, Producer & Editor - Steve James, Executive Producer - Chuck Lacy, Editor – Leslie Simmer, Co-Producers – Lauren Timmons and Adam Singer, and Associate Producer – Aaron Wickenden. The U.S. based cinematographers who filmed the 200 hours of stateside interviews; P.H. O’Brien, Peter Ciardelli, Christian Mack, and Dana Kupper. Each and every one of you made a unique contribution to this film. Here’s to a great team!

A very special thanks also to Major Greg Heilshorn, the public affairs officer of the New Hampshire National Guard. He is the one who made the phone call to me with an offer to embed as a filmmaker. Major H’s unyielding commitment to allow the soldiers who volunteered to carry cameras throughout a year in Iraq is unprecedented. He also oversaw all of the tapes getting from Iraq back to New Hampshire throughout the year. The unit commander Major Ray Valas, generously agreed to grant us permission when his unit, which happens to be the only infantry unit in the state, was selected. Two New Hampshire Adjutant Generals with whom the proverbial buck stops, Major General John Blair (retired) and Major General Kenneth Clark, both had the unwavering belief that soldiers’ voices in all their complexity should be heard. All of these men went to bat for us on many occasions when efforts were made to shut our cameras down.

For eleven months and one day, while always focused on the ‘mission first’ (filming was always second priority to their mission and safety) the soldiers with cameras ingeniously mounted the cameras on their humvee dashboards, on gun turrets and on their Kevlar vests and helmets and spent hours on IM and email discussing how best to tell their story. They ripped open their hearts and thoughts for us to look through their eyes at what it means to fight in this war. Also their families, Sana Bazzi, Lindsay Colletti, Randi, Matthew and Kenley Moriarty allowed us into their lives with open arms. Without these soldiers and their families there would be no film.

Many other soldiers from Charlie Company, 3rd of the 172nd also filmed hours of tape in Iraq: Iver Bowen, Jason Blodgett, Kevin Chartier, Ray Desmarais, Brian Downing, Benjamin Flanders, Alan Greenhalgh, Patrick Kinsella, Scott Leigh, Christopher Mason, Jacob Mavrogeorge, James Mazzuchelli, Gabriel Pavnick, Roy Reeves, Kevin Shangraw, Joshua Tuscher, and Jon ‘Chief’ Worrall.

Others who contributed were the U.S. based sound recordists Jason O’Neill and Edward Lalonde, John Garrett, Mike Gorga, Frank Kubitsky, Rob Maerz, our production coordinator Peter Liegel, and a team of dedicated loggers Beth Cote, Trevor Laird, Todd Lillethun, John Lyons, David Wilcox, Thomas Bailey, Laurel Legler, Colleen Kaman, Sarah Pagura methodically went through and transcribed the hundreds of hours of footage. Our composer was Norman Arnold and music supervisor was Tracy McKnight.

For this blog and website, internet organizing is by Zephyr Teachout and Brian Clark. Both are always pushing the boundries to build community.

The unseen partner on the film is the internet. This is a Web 2.0 outside the wire – the intimate power of the internet exploding on the movie screen. Without instant messaging, the soldiers could never have become filmmakers – without email and inexpensive video, the soldiers could never have told their stories as they happened.