Tuesday, February 3, 2009

BRATS: OUR JOURNEY HOME Documents the World of Military Brats

I’ve been screening the documentary “BRATS: Our Journey Home” by writer-director Donna Musil as Donna is scheduled to be the February 24th guest on the BlogTalkRadio show Your Military Life that I co-host.

Here’s the brief synopsis from the documentary’s website www.bratsfilm.com:
U.S. military BRATS share intimate memories about their unique childhoods - growing up on military bases around the world, then struggling to fit into an American lifestyle with which they have little in common. Narrated and featuring songs by Kris Kristofferson. Interviews include General Norman Schwarzkopf.
In an exchange through Facebook messages, Donna provided this info in response to my questions:

Why did I decide to do this in the first place? To figure out who I am and where I belong. My dad was an army JAG officer – lieutenant colonel – when he died at 42. He retired 100% service-related disability, so we were taken care of after he died.

After 40 years I finally know that I'm a military brat and I belong to this wonderful, crazy, global subculture of military brats, third culture kids, and cross culture kids of all ages, races, religions, nations. It's a very exciting thing and I think we're just beginning to tap into it.

It was a very long process making this film. After reading all the research I could find, I put up a website and asked folks to fill out a very extensive questionnaire. Five hundred responses later (including questionnaires up to 70 pages typed), I started choosing folks who I thought represented what the bulk of the people were saying.

I interviewed about 50 people on tape from the 500 questionnaires. They were pretty intense interviews. It took seven years to complete the film – with no formal funding – just me and brats donating $10 or cheaper services, etc.

All the footage was donated by brats or the DoD or teachers, etc. I had to pay a little for “The Great Santini” clips, but even they cut back on their prices. Kristofferson let me use all his music for free. It was really a worldwide group effort. And very hard to edit!

My first cut was six hours long. So much had to get cut out just because of time, including a lot of the "mom" stuff (both good and bad), and some of the more fun stories, because I thought it was more important to help those who had difficulties. But I tried to be balanced and present the good and the bad. Hopefully, I succeeded.

I do know I had two people in the same audience accuse me of being too negative and too positive the same night! I figure that's about as balanced as you're going to get with a film that deals with people's emotions!"

Donna can be contacted at info@bratsfilm.com, and you can order a DVD of the film from the website www.bratsfilm.com.

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