There is nothing new about Hollywood portraying veterans and the military. But doing it right, and involving veterans themselves? That is to too few and far between.
One short film, however, is featuring talent from people who know how it really is, because they themselves have served.
The movie Tango Down brings together a team of veterans and film professionals featuring people who know are intimately familiar with military service, and veteran life.
“Hollywood has very skewed perceptions of veterans,” says Andrew Dorsett, who served in the Marine Corps from 1998 to 2010 and is a writer/producer on the project. “We’re looking to tell the real story.” Dorsett is also pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology at Indiana University.
To fund the film, the team launched an IndieGoGO campaign that’s raised over $3,000 in its first week. Along with the crowdfunding campaign, Silver Rose Entertainment Studios created an eBay auction site showcasing unique items from veteran artists and artisans.
While frustrating, it is all too common for veterans to see extremely inaccurate depictions of war; looking at you The Hurt Locker. But the team doesn’t want mistakes to take away from a compelling story. “We’re hammering authenticity,” says Dorsett.
Writer and producer Rick Swift, also a Marine Corps veteran, says Tango Down is the kind of story that is for veterans. “It’s going to push the envelope of what most people would expect.”
But this is not just another broken veteran story. “There are extremely difficult choices you have to make in combat, and sometimes you don’t even have a split-second to make those choices,” says Swift.
Indeed, the margin of error in combat is extremely narrow, but the wrong choice can have deadly consequences. Tango Down tells the story of this reality, and perhaps as the name suggests, its consequences.
For actor Ernesto Rodriquez, this opportunity is a dream come true. “I wanted to go to acting school, but I gave it up and served 15 years in the Army,” says Rodriguez. “This will be my first time in front of a camera, which is exciting. Rodriquez grew a large social media following while walking from his home in Clarksville, Tenn., to the Santa Monica Pier, to raise awareness for PTSD and veteran suicide.
“When it comes to funding the film, the crowdfunding campaign is a way to empower veterans,” says Rodrigues, something he feels is lacking in veteran advocacy. “There are a lot of organizations that help educate, but not empower.”
But not all the veterans on the team are American. Eta Pico served in the Israeli Defense Forces between 2006 and 2008. “When I was in my service, I served in the second Lebanon War,” says Pico. “It’s important as we, as veterans, have that military background.”
Beyond Tango Down, which is expected to be finished around March of next year, the team is looking to launch a community of veteran filmmakers and business owners. The short film is just the first in a slate of planned projects where veterans will play key roles in development and production.
Micah Haughey, a producer for Silver Rose Entertainment, says successfully funding Tango Down is absolutely essential to realizing this goal.