Scott Holmgren ::
It's an amalgam of professionalism and personal vulnerability when you ask for someone's opinion of your work. And still after 25 years of creative, design and producing, there's the wonder of "what will they think?"
I had sent the first draft of the screenplay for We Answered the Call a few weeks earlier. When the email came back from the script reader, I did pause for a second before opening the attachment. Call it a moment of creative trepidation.
It was anything but.
The coverage sent back by the script reader was a breath of fresh air. After spending more than a year on the first draft of the adaptation of Jim's book, I was too close to it. The reader confirmed several things.
The script needed to be willing to distance itself from the source material. Fewer characters, the absence of a clear antagonist, and a more demonstrative change in the protagonist. Also, the conflict orchestration and character development needed refining and greater stakes. Overall, pivotal scenes needed more conflict.
It was exactly what we needed. In addition, there were plenty of positives and an encouragement to continue development.
Time to start thinking about the next draft.
At that time Jim, his wife Emily, and I attended the G.I. Film Festival in Washington D.C. They call it "Sundance for the troops..." Started by a husband/wife team, the festival "is the first in the nation to exclusively celebrate the successes and sacrifices of the service member through the medium of film." It seemed like the ideal venue to test whether our story might have a broader appeal and what stories were currently being told.
It was several days of premiers, meeting filmmakers and supporters of the military, and introspection about our project. At the end of GIFF, we had confirmation that there was an opportunity for us to tell Jim's story through film.
But perhaps a feature length piece was not the place to start.
Jim and I discussed how a documentary might be the better first step. Though a significant undertaking, a documentary could be produced on a much smaller scale, with a more manageable budget, and a clearer goal in mind. As well, if we had a screenplay and an already-produced documentary under our belt, might that carry more weight when sharing the vision for a narrative movie?
Our conversations took a turn in that direction... Who did we already know who might be able to help us?... What would a documentary look and sound like?... What production logistics would there be?... And - most importantly - what would it cost?...
It was at that point that I met Adam Braun, Patrick Gines and Bryan Zhang, the names behind Frame.
At the G.I. Film Festival in Washington D.C. After the screening of the award winning documentary "The Lost Airmen of Buchenwald," Jim and Scott met and thanked World War Two veteran Don Shearer who survived the unbelievable ordeal.