Not a War Story is the behind the scenes look at the 80 veterans and superhuman effort it took to execute the first veteran movie ever, Range 15. Relive the tense and poignant moments as this crew tries to do the impossible.
What We Thought:
Range 15 was one of my favorite movies of 2016. It was a groundbreaking independent film starring people you’ve never heard of, a group of military vets that wanted to show the world what they were capable of and give the world a glimpse of their humor, life, and personalities. It was a movie that Hollywood wanted nothing to do with so those military vets had to make it themselves. Not A War Story is a documentary on the making of Range 15 and is a must see for many reasons.
Not A War Story takes you behind the scenes and shows you how cathartic the movie was for so many people. The film used veterans from the leads to the extras and everything in between. Extras talked about the excitement they felt being around fellow veterans, feeling that camaraderie they had been missing since returning to civilian life. Some of these veterans were missing hands, arms, legs, or were in wheelchairs and loved being on set, getting to play zombies and showing us they were still very capable of doing anything they wanted. One veteran was missing the lower half of his body and crawls as a zombie. Hearing him speak about being in the movie gives you a wave of emotions. If that guy has a smile on his face and isn’t complaining about life, well shame on you or I for feeling sorry about our own lives.
But even if you don’t know any veterans or their stories, the documentary is also an inside look at how films, especially independent films, get made. Range 15 had less than 2 weeks of actual principal photography. They had less than two weeks to get enough coverage to put their movie together. Not A War Story shows you the highs and lows of movie making. When a person starts complaining about what they are shooting and that it wasn’t covered in their permit, some cash had to be slid his way. When a stunt coordinator isn’t getting the job done, him and his team are let go and the producers had to bring in friends to finish the job. Cops get involved when they think live rounds are being used. The keys to the Humvee go missing and it has to be hot wired. And most of the cast had zero previous acting experience so getting lines right and having the latest copy of the script were also issues.
But what I liked most about the movie was seeing the interaction between the civilian actors and the veterans. Range 15 has cameos from William Shatner, Sean Astin, Keith David, Jim O’Heir, Danny Trejo, and more. The actors seemed just as honored to be working with the vets as the vets were with the actors. At one point Trejo looks over and says something like “There are Medal of Honor winners over there”. The vets share their stories with the actors and it’s cool seeing both groups getting to see how the other side really is.
If you are a fan of Range 15, you have to see Not A War Story. Even if you haven’t seen that movie, this documentary is great by itself. It really is a peek behind the curtains of two drastically yet similar worlds. Movie making seems glamorous and this will open some eyes to how incredibly tough and draining (physically and financially) it truly is. Plus it also shows the hard-working spirit our veterans have and their drive to take care of one another and that very few people are more capable than they are at anything.