Over the last several years I have had the opportunity to attend a variety of military and “living history” museums. One of the former is the American Heritage Museum with one of the latter being the Massachusetts Military History Exposition. Both of these organizations are located in Massachusetts and each offer a unique experience in military history both static and living.
On Saturday the American Heritage Museum hosted a tank demonstration weekend. Seeing the M4 Sherman, M24 Chaffee, M26 Pershing and others in action was truly a unique experience. As I’m currently reading Normandy ’44 by James Holland, I was imagining these tanks in great battalions doing what we only read about and seeing from film reels taken at the time. The event also featured two WWII veterans offering their firsthand experiences to attentive audiences.
There was a moment when I was listening to the veterans experiences when several tanks were driving behind them in the near distance. It was in that moment, coupled with them talking about the sheer number of planes, tanks and soldiers involved in WWII, when you could almost visualize what it may have been like. Of course, I will never know what that experience was like. But that’s what makes these types of events so important — we experience, learn and never forget.
On Sunday I attended the Military History Expo produced by the Massachusetts Military History Exposition. If memory serves, this was my first “living history” military museum that I attended. Dan and Missy Eaton, who produce the event, always do a masterful job at incorporating a variety of experiences for the visitor.
When you first arrive you see the encampments featuring reenactors from various points in military history. From the American Revolution to WWII and beyond, the enthusiastic reenactors discuss the place in history they are representing and portraying. Adding to the experience are the various events programmed throughout the day. This weekend, there were discussions about uniform styles, weapons demonstrations, artillery firing and ending with a WWII battle in the field. There’s no question you arrive enthused, and leave having learned or experienced something new.
For me, I always find the “communications tent” a fascinating experience. Reading about the enormity of the Normandy landings (Operation Overlord) and learning how communications were built as the fronts advanced is nothing less, in my view, than a miracle of organization and determination.
It is through events like this where we learn what caused the conflicts that created such a history. They say that if we don’t learn from history, it has a habit of repeating itself. Sadly, that repeat came in February when Russia invaded Ukraine. While I theorized about just such a conflict in First Signal, I could not have imagined that in the 21st century there would not only be a war in eastern Europe, but one that has taken on the complexion of the atrocities we saw in WWII.
“Get it all on record now – get the films – get the witnesses -because somewhere down the road of history some bastard will get up and say that this never happened.”
― Dwight D. Eisenhower
Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force WWII 34th President of the United States
Shortly after SOS United States won Best Screenplay at the Washington Film Festival, I was notified that the script was nominated for another Best Screenplay award at the LA Live Film Festival. Since I entered SOS United States into the film festival circuit, I have been very pleased with the results to date—14 official sections with 4 nominations and 6 wins. My weekly pitching also yielded a production company interested in reading the script. With a standard release form signed, SOS United States is now being reviewed.
While I remain optimistic for production to begin soon, the reality is that it just takes time to get a project off the ground—especially when you’re looking for investment. When you consider that some very notable films have been in “development hell” for years, you wonder how any film gets produced! I had no idea that the Dallas Buyers Club was written in 1992 and finally released in 2013. Patience is certainly key!
When I think about it, Justice Is Mind sailed along pretty quickly. From short film version to feature was two years. However, from script to screen, First Signal took four years. With First Signal, although we had limited locations in the story, they had to be right. Thus, an extended search. In addition, there were casting and schedule adjustments that also caused some delays. But in the end, the project was completed and released.
Part of First Signal’s release is the continued marketing I employ for the film. In addition to regular social media and pitching for new opportunities, I’m always looking for some interesting angle to capitalize on. Last week I posted a video to First Signal’s IMDb listing titled The UAP Revelation. Created in June for our YouTube channel to coincide with the announcement of the UFO report from the Director of National Intelligence to Congress, the idea was to cross promote the UAP video moment in First Signal with the same moment that was being discussed in the mainstream media.
This weekend I completed up to page 61 of my latest story in the “First World Universe.” With my final pages outlined, I’m hoping for a first draft by the end of October. In all my years of screenwriting I don’t think I’ve ever written a political thriller as complicated and involved as this one. We shall see how it’s received when I start sending it out for reviews and commentary.
As for commentary, a special shout out to Dan and Missy Eaton for producing another successful Military History Expo! From the Civil War through WWII, over 200 living historians (reenactors), three battle reenactments and special guests, brought history to life over this two-day event. It was great to see that nearly 1,000 people attended the festivities. Their expo is a wonderful event to not only learn about military history, but to see it come to life.
In regard to some First Signal trivia, the field you see in the film was the location of the Military History Expo when they produced it in Orange, MA. If you look at the still below, you can see the WWI & WWII trenches that were created for the expo. It was a fitting location for First Signal as part of the story goes back to WWII.