Digital Cinema South has covered many subjects over the past three decades. Corporate, political, commercial, live and post produced projects. . Last year we encountered an opportunity to do something truly unique.
Earlier in 2012 I received an e-mail from a former coworker. Josh Frye was one of the best sideline cameramen I’d worked with in my years of directing football. At 6’5″ he was perfect for shooting over any obstacles and towered over the largest of the football players. He was also quite knowledgeable and interested in production and post.
We stayed in touch after he entered the Army as a commissioned officer several years ago. Josh had remembered me ordering a Red One camera in 2007; a year before they started shipping. He was also well aware that we were one of the first to have acquired the Epic.
Josh (by then an Army Captain) emailed me with his unique proposal. After a yearlong tour in Afghanistan, he was stationed in Europe and wanted to do something special. His unit is forward deployed in Germany along with over 60,000 other US troops.
He is currently a proud member of the storied 2nd Calvary Regiment, the longest continuously serving U.S. Army unit. His garrison (home base), nestled in the middle of the beautiful Bavarian countryside, also serves as home for the 172D Infantry Brigade. Thousands of American troops live and train there daily in defense of our country..
The Army does its best to keep life on the garrison as homelike as possible. Examples of facilities include the sprawling food courts up and to including the massive Post Exchanges which closely resemble an American mall. Soldiers can also shop at convenience stores that would look at home anywhere in the US.
It was at such a convenience store that I first got a taste of the tradition that was ingrained within our Soldiers. As we filled up with gas, I heard a canon blast followed by a bugle playing Retreat through loud speakers. I looked around at the many people engaged in their chores for the day. All of them to a man, woman, and child stopped and had turned towards the command building, standing straight at attention. I could not see what we all faced, but that bugle clearly signaled the lowering of the American flag. That daily ritual commands a degree of respect in the military. At the end of Retreat everyone then carried on about their work. Pride, honor and tradition evidenced first hand.
Another tradition is playing the National Anthem before every movie at the theaters within the garrison of a military facility. In this case, the National Anthem movie trailer being used was quite dated. It was well over a decade old. That trailer was intended to bring pride and honor to the troops before watching films. To the civilian eye the current trailer was impressive but to the Soldiers, it featured outdated uniforms, equipment and weaponry. It was not representative of today’s Soldiers and their training on the garrison in Germany.
That’s where Captain Frye’s unique request came into play. He e-mailed me about the possibility of spending a couple of weeks in Germany updating the National Anthem movie trailer with him to represent the Army they knew and loved. He wanted a work that was representative of the garrison and the proud troops who lived and trained there. The only drawback of course was money. The defense budget has been slashed and, understandably, there would be no monetary assistance from the military. Josh felt though that if we could keep our costs down he and his fellow troops might be able to foot the bill themselves.
With that degree of dedication being demonstrated I was blown away. Having never been called to serve I have often thought about my life and how much I owe to the men and women in the military who put their lives on the line for our freedom. Needless to say, we quickly came to an understanding. These troops deserved and would have a motion picture quality National Anthem trailer featuring the soldiers of the garrison. We scheduled the shoot for August 2012.
Getting personnel and high end equipment overseas turned into a real learning experience. Everyone of course understands that passports are required for people. No problem there. It was the Carnet (pronounced Car-Nay) that is basically a passport for your equipment that I was unaware of. That was an expensive pain to say the least, but one well worth going through to avoid unpleasant logistical entanglements. Getting four cameras and all of the support equipment necessary onto the aircraft was another tough task, but I and the equipment survived unscathed – if a little shorted on sleep.
We shot during the high German summer and with Post production now complete, the trailer will debut on November 14th in the Vilseck, Germany movie theater.
Special thanks to CPT Josh Frye who made this happen. He was responsible for both the financial and many of the organizational aspects of this production. In this case he also acted as producer.
Much thanks to the men and women of the United States Army Garrison Grafenwoehr and many others for their gracious support with this production. I know we held up our end with this tribute as well and put out a great product.
Pride, honor and tradition. These Soldiers and their families have it, and they will continue to be the finest audience in the world for years to come for the trailer which is played before every feature film and motion picture shown in the garrison’s movie theaters.