They make a movie despite Hollywood shunning them.
Range 15, a comedic, zombie-apocalypse movie — made for vets by vets — made its debut at the Sundance Festival 2016. The men behind the movie — Nick Palmisciano of Ranger Up, Mat Best of Article 15 and Ross Patterson, a seasoned actor and director with over 20 films under his belt — have received all sorts of acclaim.
In Nick’s words, “the movie doesn’t suck.”
I had the opportunity to interview both Nick and Ross regarding Range 15, which is set to hit more than 400 theaters nationwide on June 15, and discuss the WHY behind the movie as well as the veteran perspective and the Hollywood insider perspective of this first-of-its-kind, veteran-made movie.
The perspectives showcase why veterans really are America’s best hope.
Nick teamed up with Mat Best, also a veteran. After service, both built successful companies that cater to veterans, and they decided the next frontier to conquer was film. Nick had always wanted to do a movie. And Mat is a born star. So, like many veterans, they set out to do it.
And they faced not only funding rejections but flat-out dismissal of their idea and their perception of veterans from Hollywood elites. Hollywood was convinced that the veteran community wasn’t big enough to support a film and disagreed with their views on veterans.
Imagine that. Hollywood doubting veterans on their view of…veterans. Brilliant.
But Nick and Mat were both committed to proving not only to Hollywood, but to the military community, that anything is possible when you are committed.
They recruited Ross Patterson, an industry insider who not only has directing experience but also acting experience — which Nick and Mat both needed mentorship on — and they set out to raise the funds on their own. They raised over $1 million.
As Nick shared with me, he wanted both veterans and America to focus on what veterans can do, and not so much of the negative stuff often associated with veterans — like suicide and being broken.
But deciding to take on making a movie was no easy mission. Nick didn’t know anything about movie making or even raising money to make a movie when he got started two years ago. He had to figure it out on the fly. Insurance. Permits. Dealing with people who just simply wanted to stop him, or who were envious. All part of the mission.
And when it came time to shoot the movie, they had to do it in 13 days because that’s all the money they had to cover the costs.
Ross, the primary director behind the film, found the experience to be more than refreshing. He shared that a typical Hollywood film shoots one to three pages of script a day; this team shot anywhere from eight to 15 pages of script a day. Overtime was a non-issue, and the only complaining that was heard on set was from non-veterans, who quickly learned that they would face good-humored ridicule in response to their lame complaints. A civilian complaining about the heat would be met with a veteran sarcastically agreeing that the 85-degree day was blistering compared to the 110-degree day in Iraq while carrying an 80- pound pack.
Perspectives changed and appreciation and camaraderie grew exponentially for all involved.
The overriding, positive message of Range 15 is to show the military community that anything is possible and they need to find a new mission in life.
For those who don’t know about the military and veteran humor, brace yourself. This is not likely a film you want to take your mother to — unless, of course, she wore combat boots.
Pre-sale tickets are available to the movie through TUGG.com — and a portion of the proceeds from the film will be distributed amongst six different charities that benefit and aid veterans and their families.
As Ross and I were wrapping up our conversation, I asked him if he had any parting thoughts, he said: “Marcus Luttrell really is a bad ass – when he shakes your hand, you feel it in your groin. One handshake you feel in your soul. Amazing human being — very nice.” Marcus, whose story was shared in the movie “Lone Survivor,” is one of several high-profile individuals who make cameos in this movie.
Bottom line: Veterans don’t take no for an answer when committed to the mission. This movie is just one more example of how veterans overcome “impossible.”
— By Michael Schindler
Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and president of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.” He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs