January 24th, 2014
On Monday I will be at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point screening the rough cut of my documentary feature film, “40 Years of Silence.” It’s going to be a fascinating day.
40 YEARS OF SILENCE. A temp graphic for Monday’s screening. We still have another 6 months of work to do on the movie. Takes a long time to tell a good story. This is the 5th year for this project. Will probably come out about the same time as “Unbroken,” which has just begun post-production and is similar material.
5 YEARS IN THE MAKING (SO FAR)
This is a documentary that began in the spring of 2010 as a collaboration with my long time Executive Producer (also know as my mother, Muffy Moose). It started as an evening talk she and I gave in Wichita where she told about the personal side of her World War II experiences, and I delivered the military history side. She met my father on the troop ship to the Philippines in 1939 on the eve of World War II. He had just graduated from West Point, she was the daughter of Major General Richard J. Marshall who eventually became Chief of Staff for General Douglas MacArthur and spent more time at his side than anyone else in World War II.
In 2011 I began making a film — half of which we screened at Cornell that fall. In 2013 we screened a second draft at Brown University. Then I spent all last year creating a whole new cut, now titled, “40 Years of Silence,” which I will be screening Monday evening at West Point.
The new version focuses primarily on the American soldiers who were Prisoners Of War in Japan, using my father as a case study in how little they talked about their experiences when they returned to the U.S., and what the long term consequences may have been. In the case of my family, my father abruptly walked out on all of us after 42 years of marriage.
It’s a complex film that has taken years to find the strongest way to tell the story. It’s still not finished. We’ll probably take another six months. But the timing is actually good, given that an editor friend just told me they have to clear out of their editing suites at Universal Studios by the end of next week to make room for Angelina Jolie who has finished filming, “Unbroken,” in Australia and is ready to begin editing. That’s the amazing story of Louis Zamperini, who ended up in the same prison camp as my father at the end of the war as they were both moved out of camps in Osaka. Hopefully that will be a good movie that will help set the tone for this one. Just hope she doesn’t need 4 years of editing as I have.
It takes time to tell a good story. That’s lesson #1 in the world of storytelling.