Ryan Cunningham and The Colony Media are hoping to secure $50,000 by 9 June in order to fund the creation of Trauma, a film documents the heroism and struggles of a US Army medevac unit in Afghanistan and their lives afterward. A crowdfunding campaign was launched on 25 April on the Kickstarter website, with backers being given a range of pledges and rewards available, from $5 in return for a personal thank you via social media, to $10,000, which secures an executive producer credit, festival tickets, dinner with the creators and a gift bundle. The money is needed so that an editing team can shape more than 100 hours of footage into a completed film.
Director Harry Sanna commented: “The very different men and women from the medevac missions – from family types to fierce individuals, unwavering cynics, flippant jokers and staunch faithfuls – are now spread right across America from New York to Louisiana, Texas, Idaho, Washington, Alabama, and California. They’re pretty much everywhere. Whether still on military bases or in civilian life, they’ve all forged lives beyond who they were on that helicopter. And yet, they are all still there.”
Director Harry Sanna, an Australian journalist and filmmaker who was based in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2011, visited bases in the East and South of the country. In early 2011, he was embedded with a C Company Dustoff, Mountain Division, 3-10 GSAB medevac unit at FOB Shank in Logar Province, Afghanistan. Sanna intensively filmed while living and flying alongside a Black Hawk medevac platoon, capturing daily life on base and on missions.
In 2014 and 2015, Sanna met the medics in their various hometowns and conducted interviews with them about their memories and also their success in integrating their experiences with their new jobs and home lives. The result, say the makers, is ‘a candid and often moving portrayal of those individuals that offers insight into the challenges faced by many veterans’. Sanna described the purpose of the film as being ‘to breathe some human complexity back into our go-to concept of a veteran’.
Sanna commented: “What interested me in particular about the medics was the fact that they saw, every day, the worse aspects of that particular war, they saw the human toll, the brutal, physical toll on people. When I came home, I continued to think about those people in particular and how they were dealing with things since they’d come home, and how they were going in the civilian world. That led me to get back in touch with them and come over to America and catch up with them in person, see how they were doing with the transition back into a normal civilian life.”
He added: “The major battle now is in the minds of those that have come home, and really a lot of people are struggling with it. When they were on the medevac mission, their lives meant a very particular thing, they were heroes that descended from the clouds and picked up those that were mortally wounded. When they come home, they’re another person in the aisles of Walmart.”
The true story, said Sanna, is how these veterans regain a sense of who they are and find meaning in their lives beyond the medevac mission. He continued: “No matter what your politics, what your opinions are of the war in Afghanistan, the mission itself, what these people did, was truly remarkable. The power of what they did there will be something that they will find hard to replicate any time again for the rest of their lives.”
Assuming the funding targets are met, the film is due for completion at the end of 2016.
For the Kickstarter page, click here.