Around town: Short films made by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans
Before Kyle Hartnett shipped off to Afghanistan in 2002, he went through 20 weeks of army boot camp. His training culminated in a 25-mile road march, for which he was dressed in full army regalia and carrying a heavy M-16 rifle for two straight days without stopping to sleep.
Cut to six years later and he was full on into another boot camp -- one that had him shooting film instead of bullets. This was a three-day, intensive filmmaking training program covering casting, camera handling, editing, story structure and pretty much every other aspect of movie making. The program, a fellowship called "Operation in Their Boots," is the third and final stretch of a three-year documentary filmmaking series put on by Brave New Foundation that focuses on war veterans’ experiences upon returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. The film fellowship was made possible by a grant from the Iraq and Afghanistan Deployment Impact fund, a private, nonprofit funding entity.
The five short films of "Operation in Their Boots," written and directed by the veterans, vary in length and include traditional documentary, biopic and stop-motion animation. But all of them are decidedly nonpartisan, which is central to Brave New Foundation’s mission. “We didn’t want to question the legitimacy of the war,” says executive producer Richard Ray Perez. “Our focus was just to tell stories by people impacted by the war, the human stories. I realized there was a pool of talent out there among the recent veteran population. They had a perspective and point of view that we hadn’t seen in filmmaking before.”
"Operation in Their Boots" will premiere Tuesday at the Downtown Independent Theater, followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers. 251 S. Main Street, Los Angeles. www.intheirboots.com
Photo: Cinematographer Kira Kelly teaches Chris Mandia, Clint Van Winkle and Kyle Hartnett how to compose a shot. Credit: Brave New Foundation.