Second Viewing is a series here at The Nerds Templar where we discuss a movie we’ve seen before and then watch again for a second time. Maybe we saw it at the theater and then catch it again on DVD or streaming services or maybe it’s a film we watched years ago and view again today to see how it holds up.
I was talking to people about films from 2010 to 2019 for an article I was writing and the movie Range 15 came up. It’s mentioned in this article because I’ve watched it a couple of times over the years and quite like it. I realized I had seen Not A War Story (Range 15’s supporting documentary) only once. I first watched it in 2017 and thought it was time to see it again. Lo and behold Ranger Up had the Blu-ray available so I bought one.
I popped the documentary in and the film is still as emotional as it was the first time around. If you read the first review it talks about how cathartic making Range 15 was for many involved. It was made by veterans for veterans and you see the absolute glee in their faces in this behind-the-scenes making of documentary. As veterans transitioned into “normal” life back home, many of them were lacking the brotherhood they had in the service and were pumped just to be around others who understood them. Many were missing hands, limbs and more and got to play zombies because of it. One vet crawled on the ground dragging himself with his arms as a zombie and loved every minute of it. The average person has no idea what it’s like to be on a movie set and here are these men and women experiencing it all first hand.
That was the other part of the documentary I enjoyed the first time around, it’s a giant “making of” featurette like you would see in bonus material on a home video. Watching it again, it’s still one hell of a look behind the movie making curtain. Let me clarify that a bit more, it’s a look at true independent film making. If you ever wanted to know what it’s like to be part of a cast or crew, this will open your eyes as to just how non-glamorous it actually is. When you have to deal with funds running low or people need to be paid off or keys go missing for the Humvee, it’s not exactly the glitz and glamour we imagine it to be. As someone who has worked in many different levels of the film industry, I truly believe this documentary should be shown in film school. Students will learn a lot about movie making when you don’t have $100 million in studio backing.
Watching the film this second time I’ve also seen how much these people have grown. Mat Best has gone on to write a New York Times Best Selling book called Thank You For My Service. The first time around I probably didn’t know who Evan Hafer was. He’s in the documentary and now I know him from Black Rifle Coffee Company. Most of them are involved or have been involved with the Drinkin’ Bros podcast and community. Director Ross Patterson wrote a follow up to At Night She Cries, While He Rides His Steed (which had fantastic product placement in Range 15) called When Darkness Falls, He Doesn’t Catch It and launched his own podcast The Ross Patterson Revolution. Vincent “Rocco” Vargas landed a role in the Sons of Anarchy spin-off Mayans M.C. The documentary shows how taxing making Range 15 was, but that drive these people have continues in projects years later and companies I’ve gone on to support. I’ve even personally worked with some of them in the past year.
I’m glad I picked up Not A War Story and watched it again. Not only is it entertaining, but it’s highly educational. As a film nerd it’s something I’ll revisit time and again to remind myself how difficult film making (especially on the independent level) truly is. As a non-veteran who tries to support the veteran community, it’s great seeing what making Range 15 meant to so many people. As someone who’s been a fan of a lot of these guys and their companies like Ranger Up, Article 15 and now Black Rifle Coffee, it’s great seeing them striving. There was no doubt Nick, Mat, JT and the rest would continue on because the documentary shows their work ethic and the type of people they are. I expect even more from them now.
On a second viewing, Not A War Story is still…