Truly Appreciated – An interview with Scott Waugh from Act of Valor : Part 1

There have been few times in my life as a Military Spouse that I have felt truly appreciated.  Appreciated by someone other than my husband and in a way more profound than simply just a “thanks for your service” or a discount from a store.  Not that those things aren’t truly appreciated and I am grateful for those things.  Strangers acknowledging your service, along with your husband’s is amazing and always brings a smile to my face.  I’m talking about true appreciation.  The kind you can see in the eyes, deep in the soul of the person talking to you.  The kind that makes your eyes water and your breath cut away.  This weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Milblogging conference.  I was surrounded by Milbloggers of all types – veterans, active, spouses, supporters.  It was a great experience and I learned a lot.  There were many highlights of the event, meeting a Tuskegee Airmen, meeting women whose blogs I have spent countless hours reading, and meeting Scott, the Producer/Director of Act of Valor.  The poster alone could make me just burst into tears, watching the trailers definitely does.

I was given the opportunity to sit down with Scott, thanks to Taylor at Our Military Home.  Thank you, thank you Taylor for giving me the opportunity to talk with him.  There have been so many interviews with Scott, and so much talked about when it comes to the movie.  I mean, from the moment it hit the news that it was coming out people were just freaking out, myself included!  First, I was suspicious of several things – Were they really Active Duty Navy Seals, were they really even REAL soldiers?  What kind of potential OPSEC violations are we talking about (those that know me know I’m kinda crazy about that kind of stuff), are we relaying too much easily attainable info to our enemy?  And lastly, and probably most importantly – how are we portraying these men and our Country.  I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a movie out there that Hollywood has just trashed our Country, the Military, the war and just have been an all around downer for morale.  Movies like Stop-Loss, Platoon and Full-Metal Jacket.  Skeptics of the movie ended up being people who hadn’t seen the movie.  The easiest part was not to compromise TTPs.  Navy Seals wouldn’t compromise their own work?  And sure, its propaganda……”lets just show that if you join the Navy SEALS you’ll pretty much die right,” Scott told with a very flippant tone.  But he’s right!  Sure the trailer shows some pretty freaking awesome, stunt man, rock star moments, but there are plenty of real, raw and nitty-gritty aspects of the movie that they lay out for every one to see.  Its not just rock-star moments.  Its real, simple, sad moments, that you add to those rock-star moments, that make this movie what it is.

This is something that Scott talked about in his interview with us and publicly later, during a Q & A at the conference.  People had been skeptical that a Pro-America, Pro-Military movie could make money!  He made the point to say that it wasn’t necessarily that his movie was Pro Anything, it was simply Telling The Truth!  What a novel idea.  Just simply laying out the truth about this life would be enough to make it look like it was Pro-something.  Wow, that thought just absolutely floored me.  What does that mean about all those movies out there that are negative?  They may be telling the truth, but they magnify it and take far too many liberties with it that they appear to be the norm.  When in reality, many of our lives are simply just normal?  Sure it might be abnormal to a civilian, but to us this is a military life.  I thought it very poignant when Scott talked about the families – the wives and children of SEALS in the movie – that this was just a normal life for them.  And as a spouse this is my first focus, during this interview with Scott.  What about these families – these, men, these wives, girlfriends, children? 

Scott said, “You know the saying, behind every strong man is an even stronger woman?”  That is so true.”  They really wanted to show that in this movie.  And when he said that I gave it some thought.  There aren’t too many movies that show that part of it.  The mini-series The Pacific, is the last thing that I’ve really seen that focused any length of time talking about the families, wives and girlfriends.  Many times they talk the girls that leave their men (Jarhead) and just the sad and negative.  Again, not the norm.  Scott wanted to focus on little subtle things to really emphasize the amazing “Normal” things, that somehow seem way more than just normal.  Things like the pregnant wife putting together her crib.  I know about this all too well.  Recently I built a twin bunk bed, a chest of drawers, coffee table and put together a couch.  So I know that part, as do many of my fellow spouses.

One of more emotional scenes for him to do was the Tarmac scene, showing the goodbye with the wives and children.  It was so real for them.  The kids became so invested and it was difficult for them to separate reality from the movie.  As traumatic as this may sound I believe this is one of the more amazing aspects of a movie like this.  You can’t get any more real, can you?   Something interesting that he brought up that I didn’t even think about is the reality of a wife, holding it together for her husband, “but as soon as that door closes she’s a basketcase, and that’s what I wanted to show,” he said.  Its true.  How many of us, myself included, have done just that.  We keep it together for them, for our kids, or whoever so that they don’t worry.  He’s got so much to worry about when he’s gone.  The last thing he needs to do is be wondering if I can hack it.  I’m not the one in the middle of the freaking battlefield with my life down the line.  I’m not the one riding down some road in the middle of nowhere in a freaking tank of a vehicle because “driving down the road” is a dangerous sport.  This isn’t to say that I have to be some cold as ice b-word, but you get the point.  Showing this aspect of military life in a real, raw and truthful way was very important to Scott and I appreciated that.  “Sure that might not be the way we say goodbye, but that’s the way they say goodbye and that’s something any military wife can relate to,” he said.  And yes, that is so true.  We each have our own way, things we do. 

And now that I’ve yammered on for way too long, stay tuned for more from Scott and Act of Valor on Cammo Style Love, as well as from the conference.

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