FRONTLINE TO HOMEFRONT

We’ll take a look at how one group is aiming to accurately share the experiences of American troops.

Aired on March 6, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

> AS WE CONTINUE OUR SERIES ABOUT POST 9/11 VETERANS AND THEIR ONGOING TRIUMPHS AND TRAGEDIES, WE TURN NOW TO A LOOK AT THE STORYTELLERS WHO ARE SHARING THEIR EXPERIENCES IN THEATER AND OUT.

ROBERT HAND IS WORKING ON A PROJECT ABOUT THE BOWE BERGDAHL CASE.

AND MIKE DOWELLING IS PRODUCING A SERIES ABOUT MEDAL OF HONOR WINNERS.

BOTH VETERANS THEM SOUTHEASTS AND THEY JOIN US WITH DETAILS ON THEIR WORK AND RETURN BACK TO CIVILIAN LIFE.

ROBERT, TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR OPEN MILITARY BACKGROUND.

THANKS FOR HAVING US TODAY.

I DID BASIC TRAINING AND THE BROADCAST SCHOOL THAT THE ARMY OFFERS, THEN AIRBORNE SCHOOL AND STATIONED IN ALASKA WITH THE 25th INFANTRY DIVISION, WHICH I THEN WENT TO AFGHANISTAN IN 2009 AND 2010, DID OVER 100 COMBAT MISSIONS WITH THE AIRBORNE INFANTRY GUYS.

BASICALLY, TRYING TO TELL THE SOLDIER'S STORY.

WE'LL COME BACK IN A SECOND.

BUT MIKE, SIMILAR FIRST QUESTION TO YOU.

YOUR EXPERIENCE IN THE MILITARY AND THEN HOW YOU GRAVITATED TOWARDS FILM MAKING.

IN 2004, I ENDED UP GETTING DEPLOYED TO IRAQ, AND I SERVED AS A MILITARY WORKING DOG HANDLER.

SO OUR PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY WAS TO DETECT EXPLOSIVES AND IEDs.

I ENDED UP WORKING AT THE NAVAL HOSPITAL IN SAN DIEGO.

I WAS PART OF THE MORN CORPS WOUNDED WARRIORS BATTALION, WHICH MEANT I WAS IN CHARGE OF A DOZEN OR SO MARINES THAT WERE RECENTLY WOUNDED AND FLOWN BACK HERE TO RECOVER.

MY JOB WAS TO HELP THEM FIND RESOURCES.

AFTERWARD, I GOT INSPIRED BY THE MARINES THAT WERE RECOVERING AT THAT HOSPITAL WHO SAID WHEN THEY TRANSITIONED, THEY WANTED TO MOVE TO LOS ANGELES AND HEARN HOW TO BECOME A SCREEN WRITER OR DIRECTOR.

I HAD ALWAYS BEEN INTERESTED IN THE BUSINESS AND ENTERTAINMENT.

I WANTED TO DO SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT WITH MY LIFE WHEN I GOT OUT OF THE MARINE CORPS AND I WAS LOOKING FOR SOMETHING AND GRAVITATED TOWARDS ENTERTAINMENT AND I ENDED UP GOING TO A PROGRAM AT UCLA TO LEARN ALL ABOUT PRODUCTION AND ENTERTAINMENT.

I'VE BEEN DOING IT EVER SINCE.

LET ME ASK YOU EACH ABOUT THE PROJECTS YOU'RE WORKING ON.

ROBERT, MOST PEOPLE KNOW THE STORY OF BOWE BERGDAHL.

YOU WERE ACTUALLY INVOLVED IN THAT, IN YOUR WORK IN THE MILITARY.

AND YOU'RE WORKING ON A PROJECT NOW, IT'S A LOOK AT THE PEOPLE WHO WERE INVOLVED, WHO WENT OUT TO SEARCH FOR SOMEBODY, EVEN THOUGH THEY KNEW -- THEY BELIEVED THAT HE HAD ESSENTIALLY ABANDONED THEM.

WELL, THE FILM IS CALLED 'SEARCHING FOR BERGDAHL.'

I BELIEVE IT'S A LOOK AT THE WHOLE BOWE BERGDAHL SAGA.

I'M PARTNERED WITH BLOOM HOUSE PRODUCTIONS, AND WE'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF MAKING THIS FILM, THIS DOCUMENTARY RIGHT NOW.

AND IT BASICALLY, DURING MY TIME IN THE MILITARY, I WAS -- I GOT TO ALASKA TO THE FOURTH BRIGADE, 25th INFANTRY DIVISION AT THE SAME TIME AS BOWE BERGDAHL.

I DIDN'T KNOW HIM.

HE WAS IN A DIFFERENT PLATOON.

I WAS AT THE HEADQUARTERS BRIGADE LEVEL.

BUT MY JOB WAS TO RECORD THE WHOLE BRIGADE THROUGHOUT THAT WHOLE DEPLOYMENT AND AFTERWARDS.

SO ONLY UNTIL I WAS THERE WHEN HE HAD WALKED OFF AND I WAS A PART OF THE SEARCH, AND ONLY UNTIL LATER DID I REALIZE THE GRAVITY OF WHAT I HAD OBTAINED AS A VIDEOGRAPHER, AND ALL THE RELATIONSHIPS I HAD BUILT WITH ALL OF THE PEOPLE IN THE UNIT, THE SERGEANT MAJOR AND THE ARMY OFFICERS, AND ALL THE SOLDIERS WHO LOOKED FOR HIM.

THEY ALL HAVE DIFFERENT STORIES.

AND NOT ONLY THAT, ONCE I PARTNERED WITH BLUM HOUSE, YEARS LATER, THEY SENT ME TO THE TRIAL AND I WAS IN THE TRIAL LISTENING TO BOTH SIDES.

WE HAVE THE LAWYERS ON BOTH SIDES, WE HAVE THE INVESTIGATING GENERAL OFFICER.

WE HAVE BOWE BERGDAHL'S PARENTS.

WE HAVE THE PARENTS OF THE SOLDIERS THAT WERE KID LOOKING FOR HIM, AS WELL.

SO I TRULY BELIEVE THIS IS THE DEFINITIVE LOOK.

AND IT IS FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, BECAUSE I WAS AND I KNOW THE PLAYERS AND I REMEMBER IT LIKE IT WAS YESTERDAY.

THE DAY AFTER I REMEMBER THEM ANNOUNCING THAT WE HAVE A MISSING SOLDIER.

AND AS I MENTIONED, TAKING A LOOK AT THE IMPACT THAT IT HAD ON THE LIVES OF THE OTHERS IS NOT SOMETHING THAT WE'VE SEEN MUCH ABOUT.

MIKE, LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT YOUR SERIES YOU DID ON THE MEDAL OF HONOR.

MY PRIMARY ROLE WAS AS THE MILITARY ADVISER, AS WELL AS AN ASSOCIATE PRODUCER.

I HAD THE HONOR OF WORKING WITH A COUPLE OF ACADEMY AWARD WINNER PRODUCERS AND THEIR AMAZING TEAM AND NETFLIX.

YOU ARE RIGHT TO SAY NOT MANY FULLY UNDERSTAND EXACTLY WHAT THE MEDAL OF HONOR IS.

WHAT WE HOPE TO COMMUNICATE THROUGH THIS SERIES IS THE PURE -- IS THE TREMENDOUS LEVEL OF SACRIFICE AND LOVE THAT THESE RECIPIENTS HAVE AND ALL SERVICE MEMBERS HAVE IN COMBAT AND FACED WITH EXTREME RISK AND DANGER AND THE ACTIONS THAT THEY TAKE AS A RESULT.

THERE'S SO MANY NEGATIVE STORIES COMING OUT OF THE V.A. OR VETERAN COMMUNITY SOMETIMES.

IT'S IMPORTANT THAT WE SPOTLIGHT THE POSITIVE STORIES, AS WELL.

SO WE WERE GRATEFUL TO BE PART OF THAT.

WE THANK YOU ALSO.

YOU ARE BOTH MARVELOUS STORYTELLERS.

AND YOU BRING THAT SPECIAL PRISM OF YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES AND THE STORIES THAT YOU WANT TO TELL AND WHY YOU WANT TO TELL THEM.

JUST WONDERFUL WORK THAT YOU'VE BEEN DOING.

I'M SURE WE LOOK FORWARD TO MUCH MORE.

SO THANK YOU BOTH FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING US.

TAKE CARE NOW.

A REMINDER FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE WORK THEY'RE DOING AND HOW YOU CAN VIEW THAT WORK, GO TO METROFOCUS.ORG.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

WNET

© WNET All Rights Reserved.

825 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10019