Lights. Camera. Action. Cut. These were just a few of the words heard quite frequently during the “I Was There” film making workshop, held Sept. 30 to Oct. 3 in the Warrior Transition Battalion Barracks Multipurpose Room.
Servicemembers being treated at the Warrior Transition Unit, its cadre, as well as Soldiers and veterans on and off the installation were provided an opportunity to use the art of filmmaking to help cope with post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.
“It (films) helps people heal, the things that they have eternalized and kept inside, the things that they cannot really express to others can know be seen in these movies through their eyes and others can see what they are going through,” said Christine Parker, a film instructor with Patton Video Productions. “The movies are useful in communicating to their love ones and others just how deep these feeling go and just how difficult their lives are.”
“On Day 1 everyone is on guard and really not sure as to what to expect from the workshop but after they complete their initial short film and they see their results, they get kind of excited about it,” said Parker.
As filmmaker, Parker was accustomed to making films from her vision but she found this workshop as an opportunity to see film from a whole new perspective.
“This is neat seeing stuff through their eyes and to see the level of enthusiasm that they have for their projects because they are able to communicate these things through video, said Parker. “This is a whole new way for them and I think some of them may go further with this and continue to make more movies.”
The participants were not required to have prior film experience to attend the workshop; the workshop taught them everything they needed to know to produce their very first film.
“Before this, I was sitting down watching the movie, now I am actually a performer and also working behind the camera. Although it is not easy, it is very exciting,” said Staff Sgt. Rafael Rodriquez, an almost 30-year Army veteran and current Warrior in Transition. “It is very exciting knowing that I know how to make movies, but especially a movie where each clip represents an event from my four deployments to share with others.”
“The workshop has been a good experience for me because I knew nothing about the ins and outs of filmmaking prior to this experience. It was kind of hard at first, but the instructors made it a lot easier by showing us simple techniques and giving us free reign as to how to complete our movie,” said Victor Walker, an Army veteran. “After talking to others who share similar experiences as me, I realized that our stories are just the same.
The workshop has really just opened me up to a whole new avenue to get advice, exchange ideas on different coping mechanisms and just being able to talk about some of the de-stressors that can be used to make our lives a little easier.
According to Rodriquez, the workshop has been like a flashback. Prior to this exercise I had not seen many of these pictures in years. After being deployed four times, the workshop helped me to realize that there is hope and that you are not alone. I have learned that you help others as well as yourself by sharing your experiences. When I see the pictures now, I realized that what I had been through was not that bad. It has also allowed me to forget and move on with my life. This has been the greatest benefit to me from this workshop.