22, the number of veterans that commit suicide every day, is a figure the veteran and military community are unfortunately all too familiar with.
For the last 16 years, there has been no shortage of films about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but few have attempted to tackle the challenges vets face when returning from the battlefield, and even fewer have done it right.
That’s where the movie 22 comes in.
22 tells the story of the sometimes agonizing challenges that follows war. “It’s not all about being in the trenches, so to speak,” says Brad Melson, a Marine Corps veteran and co-writer of the screenplay.
Brad met fellow veteran and 22 co-writer, Steven Taylor, when they were performers at Universal Studios Hollywood. As veterans, they know first-hand how demanding combat can be, and how coming home can be like waging a new battle.
Two of Steven’s classmates from his Security Forces Training School have committed suicide, as hasone of Brad’s closest friends, a fellow Marine.
“22, this statistic, I’ve been affected by it multiple times,” says Brad, who deployed twice to Afghanistan. “There have been a lot of military movies about PTSD, but few have touched on veteran homelessness and depression.”
“War is becoming a larger movie genre,” adds Steven. “We have a movie that is written by, and will hopefully star, veterans.”
Their crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo will go towards developmental costs, and so they can hopefully bring on an A-list actor, but the two stress the importance of having authentic veteran voices in the cast and crew.
“We want to give more of an honest depiction of what life is like for us,” says Steven. “The audience will connect more if they see soldiers playing soldiers.”
Since leaving the Marine Corps in 2014, Brad has dealt with some trials of transitioning back to civilian life, including living for a period out of his car.
These experiences make Steven and Brad uniquely qualified to tell the story of just how difficult coming home can be, for some. The script, and hopefully movie is somewhat of a tribute to their fellow veterans, as Steven says it is a reenactment of veterans’ lives.
For some, 22 is a merely a figure that gets thrown around with little context. To others like Steven and Brad, it reflects the faces and the stories of the fallen. That’s what they hope to capture with this project.