HollyShorts - The After War

 

The wife of a mentally-ill veteran and her son scrape by in an abandoned rv park, but they can’t escape her worst fear: the return of her husband.

Interview with Writer/Director Giorgio Litt

 

Congratulations! Why did you make your film?

We’re a young production company with the challenge and honor of  following upon the successes of our award-winning first short film Waking Marshall Walker (starring Sarah Drew of Grey’s Anatomy), which went on the screen at 40 international film festivals worldwide!  Our first short was a piece of our heart.  Our second film, The After War, was produced out of urgency. And I’m also proud to share that The After War is my directorial debut!

Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?

In 2013, the Department of Veterans Affairs released a report that found a shocking twenty-two US veterans commit suicide each day.  Apart from personal experiences we’ve had with the struggles returning veterans face, it is this statistic that singularly launched our film.  But we’ve seen the post war stories. Perhaps even ad nauseum.  What we haven’t seen is that story from the perspective of the serving family, and in this case the soldier wife.  

Hopefully, we’re offering you something new.  And dark.  And if that’s not a good enough reason, come watch Nikki DeLoach of MTV’s Awkward who dug way down deep for us into a roller coaster of a character arc.  In eleven and a half minutes, this brave actor gives a performance worthy of any festival viewer’s eyeballs.  She’s magnificent.

The After War - Jennifer makes the best of it

The After War - Jennifer makes the best of it

How do personal and universal themes work in your film?

I’m even more interested in how personal and universal themes don’t work in our film.  Because right out of the gate we give you an idea to which hopefully anyone anyone can relate: recovery in the face hardship. Jennifer is doing everything right, she’s supportive, she’s seemingly selfless, she’s making the best of an awful and even dangerous situation.  Her son Danny seems to also show an immense amount of resiliency amid ongoing tragedy.  And he’s eight years old. But we tug at the proverbial loose threads to see how quickly the facade of “making it work” falls apart.   Hopefully that’s something else everyone can relate to. 

How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?

We come from the “proper bacon cooking” school of screenwriting:  “low and slow.”  We go through many, many drafts and we do obsess about words. Sometimes to the production's detriment.  I can’t necessarily recommend this approach for all budding filmmakers.  It works for us.  

Following the tradition of our first film, we cut major characters and subplots.  At least this time we did in preproduction vs post.   This time around it was the character to be played by my wife. I’ve not yet heard the end of that.   But if it doesn’t serve the story, it’s gone.   We also tend to end up with complex shorts that beg to be features.  I’m not sure if that helps or hurts this particular short.  But then again, I couldn’t imagine a person whose story is more natively complicated minute to minute than Jennifer's, so in the end it was important to us to do that justice, at the risk of alienating the audience with unexplained detail.  Don’t worry, we’ve got the feature cooking.

The After War - Justin on the verge

The After War - Justin on the verge

What type of feedback have you received so far?

I can’t speak entirely objectively, but people thus far have been overwhelmingly fascinated with Jennifer’s perspective.  And audiences have selected our film to be the Audience Choice because I think they haven’t really had the chance previously to sit down and appreciate the cost of war this way.  I think by showing them an example of how the effects of war ripple into our communities, cascading from relationship to relationship, we’re giving them something new to think about.  And that was the point.

Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?

No spoilers, but there’s a moment near the end that Jennifer makes a particular decision that make some people in the audience upset.  I hear things like “I would NEVER do that if my kid was missing.”  I can’t imagine a better compliment. I mean complaint.

What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?

Jennifer’s story is everyone's story.  How easy it is to bury mental health issues, and its the danger that that presents that needs wider attention.  Mental health is a relatively new science. It wasn’t but a couple of decades ago where the prescription of any given mental health issue was “get it together.”  And we all know brave men and women who served our nation.  Maybe you enlisted yourself, or have family that did.  Maybe it’s a colleague, or high school buddy.  

The cost of war affects us all.  Perhaps we should include the cost on society of family therapy and school shootings into the Defense Department’s literal calculation of the cost of war. Because as it is the cost of the treatment for the actual returned veteran themselves is not tallied in this projection.    It’s important to us to share that idea on as many platforms as possible.

The After War - Nikki DeLoach living a “prior moment” before “action” is called

The After War - Nikki DeLoach living a “prior moment” before “action” is called

Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?

We’re developing this story into a feature.  The most asked question we get is “what happens at the end?”  Well, we want to show you what happens AFTER the end.  And how we got there in the first place.  We’re looking for investors for the feature based on this short.

 What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?

We want people to be upset.  And inspired.  But above all, mobilized.

What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?

What do you make of the ending? And what do you make of Jennifer’s relationship with Caleb?

The After War - Soul of Wit Films, always independent!

The After War - Soul of Wit Films, always independent!

What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?

Several!  We do have plans to develop The After War into a feature, as well as our first short Waking Marshall Walker.  We are also working on an untitled feature doc about the effects of gerrymandering on public policy, in the context of the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.

 

Interview: August 2017

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We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us?  More info: Carmela

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The After War

The wife of a mentally-ill veteran and her son scrape by in an abandoned rv park, but they can’t escape her worst fear: the return of her husband.

Length: 11.5 minutes

Director: Giorgio Litt

Producer: Giorgio Litt and Thom Canalichio

Writer: Giorgio Litt and Thom Canalichio

About the writer, director and producer:

This is the second short film from Giorgio Litt and Thom Canalichio of Soul of Wit Films, following on the heels of the successes of their first short film Waking Marshall Walker, starring Sarah Drew of Grey’s Anatomy, which went on to win awards and screen at 40 international film festivals worldwide.  The After War is Giorgio Litt’s directorial debut and has won Best Director at Pasadena International Film Festival and the Audience Award at Atlanta Shortsfest.
 

Key cast: Nikki DeLoach, Joe Towne, James Devoti, Jentzen Ramirez
 

Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):   Investors in feature length feature and our feature length doc

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/SoulofWitFilms/

Twitter: @SoulofWitFilms

Funders: Crowd Sourced Funding on Indiegogo

Where can I see it in the next month?  

Hollyshorts Film Festival