It is with great regret that I am writing this post.
As many of you know, for the past two years I have been working on a film about a Platoon within the Marine Corps. I moved down to North Carolina in April 2005, where after bouncing around from unit to unit, settled on a platoon that I felt was the best choice, both on a personal and a professional level. After a lengthy research period, then training cycle lasting many months, we deployed overseas. Although personally it was a very rewarding experience, professionally the platoon didnít get the missions they were expected to, and as such we returned to the States extremely disappointed, but confident about the next deployment. From the films perspective, it meant that I didnít get the footage I needed and that if I wanted to make a successful film, I would have to go another round with the same team and deploy again. This was something that I was committed to doing.
While we were overseas, there was a structural change within the Marine Corps. Force Reconnaissance, the unit with whom I was attached was disbanded and a new unit formed, now known as MARSOC (Marine Special Operations Command). As with all platoons after returning home from a deployment, there is some shifting around of personnel. With the advent of MARSOC being formed for SOCOM, and the need to keep a direct action asset within the Marine Corps, two of the platoons from Force Reconnaissance were moved over to Reconnaissance Battalion. The platoon I was following was one of those reassigned to Battalion. And while a few members of the platoon were given orders to MARSOC, the remainder was given orders to Recon Battalion. A second deployment was not in my original plan, but I understand the documentary process and had long ago made a personal commitment to this film, no matter how long it took. And with so many of the Marines in the film now in the same platoon at Recon Battalion, it was easy for me to stay with them and continue the project. Every single one of the Marines vouched for me, and after a few meetings everyone was very exited about the prospects of this filmís continuation.
I put together a package with all of my references and letters of recommendation and handed it in to my public affairs contact within the Marine Corps. He then began the process of getting my orders re-approved from MEF (the commanding unit), as there had been a change in personnel since my original approval. After spending two years with the Marine Corps, going through a full work up and deployment with a platoon, no one thought there would be a problem with me continuing to film, but it came back denied without any further consideration. I was shocked to say the least and went to speak with some of the commanders of the original unit to see if they might be of any assistance. After working with them for so long, they know me very well and would be a good reference. There was a meeting that took place with every relevant officer in attendance to discuss this film and my continuing on with the project. I wasnít allowed to participate, so the commanding officer of the unit I was with went my behalf to present my case. A decision was promised shortly thereafter, but in reality nothing transpired except that the red tape continued to get thicker and thicker. From that point on, we repeatedly hit roadblock after roadblock due to a few individuals in the new command who were completely against my making this film. But the truth of the matter is that I had never met these individuals, and despite my numerous attempts to meet with them, I was denied every time.
I was granted access to a Force Reconnaissance Platoon, the most highly trained combat unit within the Marine Corps, and Marines that I had to prove myself to time and time again. And within that platoon, no one would express anything but the highest regard and respect for my character and my work. But most importantly, they trusted me. I earned their respect. If they were required to hump miles on end while carrying a heavy load, then so did I. There was nothing that they were tasked to do that I didnít do right along side of them, and I was happy to do it -- even with the additional task of filming. I lived, trained and worked with these guys every single day, never taking a day off, and choosing to spend any vacation time I had with them and their families, rather than with my own.
I recently went to the Pentagon, where I met with everyone I thought could make a difference in the decision that was being made. I showed them some footage and it went very well and after returning to North Carolina, I honestly thought that we were in good shape. But it turns out that even with all the support for my continuing with this film, ultimately a decision was made that the command in question couldnít be ordered to take me, they had to agree to it... I put everything I had into this project, but ultimately, through now fault of my own, have been denied the opportunity to continue. I fought this decision with everything I had, alongside with all of those that have worked with me over the past two years, but it seems it wasnít enough and we are now left standing here with nothing to show for it whatsoever except my personal experience.
Right now I feel like my legs have been taken out from underneath me, and everything I have sweated for over the last two years, physically, emotionally and financially has gone to waste. This is the first time Iím my life that I have started something and not finished it, and the worst thing about it is that I didnít do anything wrong. Although Iíve been with the Marines for a long time, much of that time was dedicated to research and finding the right unit, and so there is nowhere near enough footage to make a complete film with. I have watched what is there, and itís just not possible to make anything of any merit with it.
So, to try to recoup some of the money spent by my investors, we are selling all of the equipment. I have a pretty extensive list of stuff and wanted to give those on this forum the first crack at everything I have before I advertise elsewhere.
Everything I am selling is in great condition and prices are a little flexible on some items.
Thread: Sad News
Results 1 to 10 of 49
04-13-2007 06:26 AM
- Join Date
- Apr 2005
04-13-2007 06:30 AM
- Join Date
- Apr 2005
If any one has any interest in the equipment, send me an e-mail and I'll send you the list.
04-13-2007 08:09 AM
I can not tell you how I feel for you. To commit to the point where you had earned that type of respect, from people where that is not an easy thing, and have it yanked from underneath you must be a horrible loss. I respect your comitment, and professionalism to give up so much of your life, to tell a story that is important to be known. I know these are merely words from a stranger. But for what it is worth I feel terrible for you, and angst to whom took this away. Good luck with the aftermath.
Michael Yaremchuk www.flatlandfilms.com
04-13-2007 09:10 AM
- Join Date
- Mar 2006
- Twin Falls, Idaho
wow that sucks big time, man I too feel sorry... I do not know what to say other then life goes on and the good experiences you had with the heroes of this great country will be forever yours. and that my friend it is priceless.
04-13-2007 09:20 AM
- Join Date
- Jul 2005
I'm so sorry to hear your story...It's also such a shame that your footage will be lost. With that, what if you flip the perspective... perhaps the story is not about the military, but instead, a filmmaker's desire to put it all on the line to tell a military story...Perhaps the story is about you...
My best to you..
04-13-2007 09:24 AM
Mark. Thanks for sharing. Sounds like someone way up the chain of command decided to pull the plug.
University of Korea 1951-55
04-13-2007 09:32 AM
Wow. That hurts. Sorry to hear that you had invested so much of your time, money and life into something that ultimately was out of your control.
I admire your perseverance and efforts to get the project approved again.
Judging by the list of equipment you've posted for sale, this was no small project.
Good luck to you, Marc.
04-13-2007 09:38 AM
Hey Mark, I remember you from the HVX boot camp in NYC and remember your passion for the project and the HVX. I think everyone that left Ablecine that day talked about how a guy like you gives inspiration in there own work. I know we talked about it.
Maybe there will be another shifting of guards down the line and you will be able to continue. Good Luck with it and hopefully you will finish.
I just recently lost my job so unfortunatly I can't help you recoup any costs on equipmentUrbanMouse.com
2013 Narrative Reel
04-13-2007 10:22 AM
I am so sorry to hear your story. As a independent filmmaker, you are and have been a major inspiration for me (I loved Dark Days) and it breaks my heart that your project gotten take out from under you.
I'm sure you will land on your feet and I wish you nothing but the best,
04-13-2007 10:30 AM
For some reason, the link to send you an email isn't working. Could you email your equipment list:
rob.chinn at gmail.com
Sorry to hear about your project. It sounds very interesting. Hopefully you'll get another shot at it.