TAEM interview with Producer Rae Davis

DSC_0063TAEM- The Arts and Entertainment Magazine has been fortunate to come across a film worthy for the time that we live in. With war a constant occurrence in our country’s history we simply overlook, or ignore, the effects that our military personnel undergo because of it.

   A new movie, Burden of Freedom, is now in production to do just that. We are fortunate to be able to interview producer Rae Davis to give our readership the inside story of this landmark film. Rae, please tell us how this idea came out for this film.

RD- Three years ago, our screenwriter, Kenny DeSoto Ramoz, wrote Burden of Freedom, out of his long time love and respect for the men and women that serve this country, and from personal family and friend experiences involving issues with PTSD.  Kenny, and the Burden of Freedom film team, all believe that our veterans suffering from PTSD deserve a larger platform in which to be heard.  It is our hope that the end result will be, if nothing more, a better understanding and awareness of PTSD.

TAEM- Describe the powerful impact that this film displays.

RD- Unlike military films before it, Burden of Freedom specifically focuses on the struggles that these two Iraq War veterans have with PTSD.  In writing the film, Kenny DeSoto Ramoz, was mindful to not present PTSD as a one dimensional illness, but to include how it affects the soldier’s family, friends, employment, and social interactions.  The film emotionally and dramatically presents how PTSD invades their dreams, thoughts, and actions, as they desperately seek answers to how to live a stable and balanced life after military service. We understand that there are thousands of real life veterans trying to do the very same thing.

TAEM- We are also pleasantly surprised that a number of the actors in this film have been interviewed over the course of our publication’s history. Names such as Kyle Hester (click on to see Aug. 2010 issue), Eileen Grubba (click on to see Nov. 2009 issue), Alicia Lara (click on to see June 2010 issue), and Ellen Dubin (click on to see the May 2010 issue) are well known to our readers. Tell us about some of the other actors that are in the cast.

RD- Pete Freeland, Supervising Producer, and actor, has been added to the cast as Maj. Mike Johnson.   Currently Pete is featured on shows for Discovery, Discovery Science, Speed Channel, SpikeTV, and the National Geographic Channel in addition to several national commercials including the recent Taco Bell Superbowl commercial. His movie credits include the thriller “Visible Scars” with Tom Sizemore, lead in the feature film “Justice on the Border” (currently on iTunes) and in the award-winning “Payphone” music video for Maroon 5.  Pete also has extensive experience as a producer, with his projects completing on time and on budget, and going on to win awards including the coveted “Gold Remi” at the 2010 Worldfest Houston international film festival.

Pete currently has 2 other feature films and 2 TV show pilots in process and can be regularly seen on TV hosting award show events in conjunction with the MTV Video Awards, Emmys, and the Oscars as well as a public spokesman for the shuttle Endeavor at the California Science Center.  He stars alongside Eric Roberts, John Ratzenberger, and Robyn Lively in the upcoming family film “The Ten: Vain” due out this Fall. An accomplished writer, Pete has several current columns including “The Actors Voice”, develops aerospace engineering textbooks, and will be coming out with a motivational book in 2014.

Peter Murnik plays First Sergeant Lance Harrison.  Peter is best known as Clark Palmer in the series J.A.G, where he appeared in 7 episodes, including the special episode Ghosts of Christmas Past, where he played the young Thomas Boone (Terry O’Quinn is the Thomas Boone from “now” in the TV-series).

After his last appearance in J.A.G in 2003, it took him 2 years to make his next guest appearance as, Detective Wilson Estep in the series Miracles, which lasted only one season.

Currently Peter can be seen in the series Granite Flats on the BYU network.

In July 1999, Peter became the proud father of his son Max.  On September 11 2001, he welcomed his second child, a daughter, who he named Ruby.

Roseanna DeSoto:   Portrays Suzanne DeRosa, Alica Laura character, Sheryl Daniel’s mother.  Rosanna DeSoto was born San Jose, California who has starred in film and in television. She is best known for her role in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country as Azetbur, the daughter of Chancellor Gorkon. Her other well known film roles include La Bamba (1987) as Connie Valenzuela, Stand and Deliver (1988) and Family Business (1989).

Rosanna has starred in television; her first TV role was in the TV series A.E.S.  Hudson Street (1978) as Nurse Rosa Santiago and starred in the short lived TV series The Redd Foxx Show (1986), she also starred on some TV movies too. She has made guest appearances on many TV series, some of those appearances range from Cannon, Kung Fu, Barnaby Jones, Barney Miller, Melrose Place, and The Bold and the Beautiful.

TAEM- Tell us about the two main protagonists in the film.

RD- Capt. Brian Daniel played by Kyle Hester, is a young married man, and is a veteran of the war in Iraq as a Captain of the 101st Airborne Division. After being wounded in battle, he returns home, only to combat PTSD, and the horrific wartime memories that haunt him. Brian has dreams of moving to Southern California, and making a fresh start. Living in a small run down rental house, and barely scraping by, he just manages to eke out a living. Brian is an honest, loving, and hardworking family man, who desperately wants a stable life, in new surroundings, in order to forget his wartime horrors, and to conquer his PTSD.

First Sergeant, Lance Harrison, played by Peter Murnik, injured in combat, is the childhood friend of Capt. Daniel.  Lance had severe PTSD, and is unable to function well in society.  Harrison has struggles with his marriage, job, finances, etc., and is forced to take matters into his own hands.  His problems with the V.A. with not processing his claims and medications, push him to the breaking point.

TAEM- Describe the two actors that play these roles and any personal connections they may have to them.

RD- I received a quote from lead actor, Kyle Hester I’d like to share:  “First I would like to thank Ken Ramoz for writing such a well thought out, true to life character. This will be the most challenging role that I have played. This role is very personal to me, as I have friends that are veterans suffering from PTSD, and I have seen the struggles first hand. I am honored to take on such an important subject with the role of Capt. Brian Daniel.”

Due to his current filming schedule, I was unable to get a quote from actor Peter Murnik, however I do know that Ken, Kyle and Peter met years ago on the film set of Andersonville in 1996, and remained friends to this day.  We are grateful to have Peter’s acting talents in Burden of Freedom.

TAEM- Tell us about the director for the film and how he was able to pull off such captivating scenes for it.

RD- Director, Gary Hubb, created the tension in the scenes in the same way he will design the shots with the actual movie. That goal is to make whatever visual on screen corresponds with what the characters will see and feel in their head.  If the character is going through an episode and his vision is distorted, he will create ways to show that through the camera by type of lens filters and camera movement with his DP.  To pull this off, this process happens early on in pre-production when we discuss each scene rather the day before or the morning of the shoot.  Having this conversation early and often in the process allows the plan to evolve and ultimately make better as we go forward.  This process of visual intent will go on with every character in the script which allows separation to everyone’s situation and overall emotion they are experiencing.

mark-and-rae-Wrigley-FieldTAEM- Please tell us in detail about some of the other crew members behind the action in the film.

RD- Mark and Rae Davis, Producers.

Mark Davis is currently a Senior Vice President-Operations with a global environmental services company managing all aspects of a $30 million dollar business supporting fortune 50 companies located in the Western United States. He started and developed a program with the company to hire returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan into field and management positions. This program is very successful and is expanding company wide.

Mark was born in San Diego, CA and graduated from California State University Fullerton with a BA in Anthropology. He has a great interest in human culture and American military history from the colonial period to today. Mark has extensive knowledge of military medicine from the Civil War period through the development of modern Mobile Army Medical Hospitals (MASH) units.

Since graduating from College he has worked for two global companies and held positions in the United States and overseas. He has extensive experience in Operations Management, Finance, Project Management, Project Cost Accounting, IT systems development and rollout, Research and Development, Procurement, Business Development, and Contracts Management.

Rae Davis:  Producer, is currently the owner and designer of a wedding business, Silver Leaf Events. Previously, I co-owned with my mother, a thriving floral design business throughout most of the 1990’s, until 2001.   I have a B.A. in history from Sacramento State University, and I periodically lecture on 19th century medical practices, with an emphasis on Civil War medicine. I have experience on small and large scale project production and management.

I met our screenwriter Kenny Desoto Ramoz, in 1991 while participating in the living history organization called The National Civil War Association.  We have remained friends ever since.

Sam Rosenthal, Cinematographer: Sam Rosenthal is an award winning cinematographer with experience shooting a wide variety of features, short films, documentaries, and viral video.

Since graduating in 2006 from Boston University with a degree in film and television production, Sam has had the opportunity to film projects around the world ranging from documenting circus performers trekking through Nepal to being locked in one of Louisiana’s high security prisons.

Sam has been the director of photography on over 20 narrative films and has won awards in response to his efforts in lighting, camerawork, and ability to use a positive and productive work ethic.  His recent awards include Best Cinematography -at the 2010 Los Angeles 48hr film project and Best Short Film – 2010 Los Angeles Film and Script Festival.

Mark Shelton, Visual Effects:  Mark started as a production assistant who had heavy personal experience in still and motion photography and learned the ropes of the business by working in a number of different departments learning from some of the best practioners in each.  He has worked as a lighting technician, grip, driver, prop maker, wardrobe wrangler, assistant director, production manager, and others before settling in during the past 15 years to become a sought after director of photography, visual effects supervisor, and, more recently, as a producer and director.

His first professional studio feature job was on “A Star is Born” with Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson.  He did 9 features at the aforementioned Roger Corman studios where he worked alongside other future prominent filmmakers like Joe Dante, Gale Ann Hurd, and James Cameron. Balancing career along with being a dedicated family man raising three children, over the years he has worked with or for such notables as Steven Spielberg, Robert Altman, Blake Edwards, Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds, Robert Mitchum, Dar Robinson, John Badham, William Friedkin, Gore Verbinski, Ron Underwood, (and many others) and has worked closely with James Cameron on 6 of his features or ride film projects.

As a member of the Producer’s Guild of America and the Visual Effects Society he now enjoys meeting, working with, and fraternizing with some of the top movers and shakers in the industry. His visual effects team at 4Ward Productions has garnered 4 Oscar Awards (all for Jim Cameron movies) as well as a fifth nomination (for Tim Burton’s “Batman Returns”).  “Titanic”, “The Abyss”, “Aliens”, “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” (all Cameron’s), “Mousehunt”, “Hard Rain”, “X-2: X Men United” and “Tremors” are just a few of the visual effects laden films Mark has contributed to.  Mark has produced a PBS concert event starring Diahann Carroll, numerous music videos, and an award winning action short “A Day in the Life of Plain Jen” (which he also directed and photographed) which is being set up as a feature project.

TAEM- We learned that you have produced a sizzle reel for this production that can be seen at:  http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/burden-of-freedom–2 and at www.burdenoffreedom.com  What is the progress so far for its production ?

RD- Currently, we are in the pre-production stage of this film.  Through crowd funding, and other methods of fundraising, we are gathering our momentum to complete this project.  Our goal is to begin shooting later this year.

TAEM- What are your aspirations for its success, and are there any film festivals that it is being shown in?

RD- We all hope to bring Burden of Freedom to the big screen, but we are researching all options for distribution. In the meantime, when the film is completed, we will be entering as many film festivals as possible.

TAEM- When do you hope to release the film to the public, and what venues would you display it on?

RD-As stated, we hope to begin shooting Burden of Freedom later this year, and hope to release it sometime in 2015.  Currently we are researching all avenues of distribution and release available.

TAEM- Rae, our magazine has the belief that this will be a landmark film and we want to wish you, and the other team members, much luck with it. We want to thank you for your time with our interview and hope that you will keep us abreast of its progress.

   TAEM