By Patrick Stettner
A young female soldier returns home after a traumatic tour of duty, taking a new medication that can selectively erase memories.
In 2010, more U.S. soldiers committed suicide than died in combat. One U.S. veteran attempts suicide every 80 minutes. As many as 35 percent of Iraq War veterans will experience post-traumatic stress disorder. These facts boggle the mind. Young men and women are fighting bravely for this country, and although we are getting better at preventing battlefield deaths, do we really understand what is happening to soldiers after they return from battle?
Every day, thousands of veterans who have returned home are struggling with the simple act of surviving day-to-day life, trying to run from what they have witnessed as soldiers. The Pentagon understands this is a growing problem that simply cannot be ignored. Neuropharmacologists are rapidly developing drugs to erase various localized memories. These new drugs could be a useful tool to help soldiers wipe clean their traumatic battlefield memories that they desperately want to forget. This poses interesting questions of not only what is being “forgotten,” but what the absence of these memories mean. If one soldier remembers and another soldiers forgets a specific horrifying incident, then who really understands the truth of war? How will a soldier act differently if he or she knows that he or she will not have the memories (or guilt) of their actions in battle? Our American history and our narrative is built on memories and stories, but if witnesses can’t testify to the truth of war, how can we understand the cost of war?
This story should also explore the importance of family, the idea of legacy, and how it shapes our destiny, whether we like it or not. Soldiers have an iconic standing in our American narrative. For many, becoming a soldier is a rite of passage, a way of “becoming a man.” What will change in the future as women become more ingrained into this iconic landscape? How will the American story change?
—Patrick Stettner, Writer/Director
Using the backward narrative, we want the viewer to experience this film as a puzzle, actively working, while watching the film, to put the various narrative pieces together. This non-linear narrative will reinforce to the viewer the main character’s sense of disorientation as she desperately tries to find order for herself. We always want to be in front of the viewer, never giving too much information before it’s needed. However, we don’t want the audience to get lost or confused. A lot of this falls on the clarity and effectiveness of the transitions between scenes.
American rural towns are withering away as multinational companies take over family farms, emptying out towns all through the heartland. The setting of this film should take place in a bucolic farming town where a once thriving village is now empty, a ghost town, overtaken by desolate, crumbling buildings teetering like totems to a lost community. Finding such crumbling towns surrounded by endless rolling fields stretching in every direction is not going to be easy to find on the East Coast.
The visuals and sounds should be deeply tied to the rhythms of nature. The calm serenity of the trees, the fields, the wildlife, are juxtaposed with the energized, modern, high-tech military world. Throughout the film there should be this subconscious battle between these two worlds – natural sunlight and filament light (old bare bulbs) versus the more mechanized modern lights (LED’s, night vision, etc.) This all might be hard to accomplish on a four-day shoot with an extremely limited budget. Nonetheless, this shoot has been a pleasure, especially working with this cast and the small, dedicated crew. Everyone has been great, and the creative environment on set has been a real dream.
—Patrick Stettner, Writer/Director
Patrick Stettner’s feature filmmaking credits include the award winning and Sundance Lab-developed The Business of Strangers, starring Julia Stiles and Stockard Channing, and The Night Listener, starring Robin Williams and Toni Collette. He has won numerous awards from the Paris Film Festival and San Francisco International Film Festival and two awards at the Palm Springs International Film Festival for his thesis short, Flux. In addition to filmmaking, he teaches directing at his alma mater, Columbia University.
Susan A. Stover
This is Susan Stover’s third collaboration with Patrick Stettner, following Flux and The Business of Strangers. Her recent credit is the upcoming feature Syrup and her past credits include One Last Thing …, Laurel Canyon, Happy Accidents, and High Art. She was a past recipient of the Sundance Silverman’s Producer Fellowship and the Spirit Award’s Producer Award.
Lucy Walters - TJ/Gunny
Lucy Walters’s television credits include Smash, White Collar, Blue Bloods, and Gossip Girl. Her feature film credits include Shame (with Michael Fassbender) and the upcoming Brass Teapot. She also works in theater in and around New York City. She graduated from the University of Texas in Austin where she was awarded the Marcia Gay Harden Theater scholarship.
Andhy Mendez - Jose
Andhy Mendez was born in Cuba and emigrated to the U.S. as a young child. He debuted in the feature, Cuban Blood and also appeared on the series Blue Bloods. Currently he is playing the role of Laertes in Hamlet at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, Florida.
Jonni Orsini - Johnny
Jonni Orsini recently appeared on Law & Order, as well as in the feature film, Rocksteady, and the upcoming films King Kelly, Generation Um… , and Imogene.
Michael Pemberton – Therapist
Michael Pemberton has been in a recurring role on the television series Damages since 2007. He has also appeared in Law & Order, The Good Wife, and The Sopranos. His film credits include The Family Stone and Brooklyn’s Finest.
Christopher Durham – Father
Christopher Durham’s film credits include The Savages and Coming Up Roses. He has numerous television credits including As the World Turns, Law & Order, Rescue Me, and Ryan’s Hope.
Kathleen Wise - Mindy
Kathleen Wise earned her MFA degree in Acting from New York University. She has appeared in numerous independent film productions including the upcoming Isn’t It Delicious?
David Conley - Man
David Conley has performed in numerous commercials and plays in New York City. His television credits include Law & Order SVU, Third Watch, Brotherhood, and As The World Turns. Some of his film roles include Martin Scorsese’s The Departed and Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds. He is also a combat veteran with eight years of service in the United States Marine Corps, and is married and has three children.