The War Tapes, which focuses on the daily lives of a New Hampshire National Guard unit deployed to Iraq. The footage for the documentary was shot by the soldiers themselves. They managed to assemble about 900 hours of video. These are a few clips of it.
"THE WAR TAPES follows three men: Sergeant Steve Pink, Sergeant Zack Bazzi, and Specialist Mike Moriarty. Steve is a young carpenter with a dark, irreverent sense of humor who joined the Guard for college money. Zack is an inquisitive, ironic traveler and university student. Mike is a husband and father of two, driven to fight by honor and redemption. You will see Operation Iraqi Freedom through their eyes.
The soldiers were not picked by casting agents or movie producers. They selected themselves. 10 soldiers from Charlie Company carried cameras on IED-riddled roads and into combat—and into their own internal conversations. They learned how to choose and tell their stories in constant instant message conversations with Director Scranton. They filmed under unbelievable conditions. The unit was based at LSA Anaconda in the deadly Sunni Triangle, under constant threat of ambush and IED attacks. They traveled, as a unit, 1.4 million miles during their tour, and lived through over 1,200 combat operations and 250 direct enemy engagements.
Because it’s filmed by citizen soldiers telling their own stories, THE WAR TAPES is funnier, spicier, and more wrenching than stories other people might tell about them.
All three men leave women at home – a mother, a girlfriend, and a wife. THE WAR TAPES – like any true story about war – engages the hard, tense, passionate, always difficult and sometimes beautiful way these relationships develop and change."
I don't think it's meant to be propaganda, more of a real life look at war. Here is the directors vision:We all have pivotal defining moments in our lives. For me, one of those was stumbling across James Agee and Walker Evans' Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Agee's philosophy of "living journalism," of getting close enough to hurt, of investing to the core of your being in the lives of those you are documenting, became my mantra. To get their stories, you have to give of yourself – confront the wall of "objectivity" and smash through it. It's about being human first, a journalist and filmmaker second. And it is only when we are a human being first that we approach truth. February 12, 2004, I got an offer from the New Hampshire National Guard to embed as a filmmaker. I called the public affairs officer and asked if I could give cameras to the soldiers instead? He said yes…but it would be up to me to get soldiers to volunteer to work with the project. Less than two weeks later I was on a plane down to Fort Dix, NJ. I stepped out in front of those 180 men and told them of my vision. I was met with a hailstorm of questions. Are you for the war? Are you against the war? What are your politics? How are you going to take and twist our words? What do you want us to film? Why should we believe you….
At the heart of their questions was, why should we trust you with our experiences? My reply was, we would do this together. We would tell the story, their story, wherever it took us, no matter what. Ten soldiers volunteered – five soldiers, Zack Bazzi, Mike Moriarty, Steve Pink, Duncan Domey and Brandon Wilkins would end up filming the entire year. Each was given a one chip Sony high end consumer grade camera, tripod, microphone, various lenses and piles of blank tape, as well as my instant message handle. The tapes on average took two weeks to get from Iraq to New Hampshire. In the meantime, the soldiers uploaded quicktime files of scenes, explosions and ambushes. We chatted on IM about what had happened, together refining how best to tell the story. The experience was a mesh of interplays of present, future, perspective and reverberating memories. We filmed events in real time. We conducted interviews 24 hours later. These interviews were followed by more interviews months after incidents. This became a mutual journey. I believe the power of film, image and sound, lies in its ability to evoke empathy. If war negates humanity, then film – maybe especially film that shows war from the inside – can ensure that even when we fight, we hold on to and bear witness to our humanity. We found a way in this film to smash through that wall. We found the possibility of empathy in the middle of war.
Man Down clip, from Deborah Scranton Director/The War Tapes
I'm glad you like the Man Down clip (and a few of the others). The deal was, two years ago I got an offer to embed as a filmmaker, instead had the idea to give the soldiers cameras. Directed through near perpetual IM and email. Pretty amazing process. Five soldiers filmed their entire year's deployment with one chip high end Sony video cameras. They mounted tripods on gun turrets, inside dashboards and with the POV mounts on their kevlar. We have over 800 hours of footage from Iraq. 'Man Down' clip comes from the April Uprising time period when the insurgency took off through the roof.
The guys were based at LSA Anaconda, their unit is Charlie Company, 3rd of the 172nd Infantry (Mountain). Our film's blog & website is www.thewartapes.com. We'll be posting new clips soon.
Thanks for checking us out. Hope to hear from any of you, you can email me messages on The War Tapes website if anyone wants.
This appears to be the first thread on this film, so I figure that this would be the one that I would bump. It's also nice since the director herself "deborah" posted in this thread.
Anyway, I'm not sure what the official release schedule is, but this film opens today here in San Antonio, and I'm just about to go see it at the Alamo Drafthouse (best theater in America!), so I would encourage those of you who are interested to see if it is playing somewhere in your area, and to go check it out.