Leo's 35mm Film : War at Home

“The Trauma of War Doesn’t End When the Guns Stop Firing”

This story is incredibly personal to me, while the film is a work of fiction, the majority of the characters and story elements are based on personal experiences during and after my time in the military.

When I was 22, I had just returned from my second and last Deployment in Iraq. The transition from soldier to civilian was a challenging period for me. It took me several months to condition myself that I wasn’t in a warzone anymore. It wasn’t until I experienced my first Fourth of July back home that I realized that I couldn’t just forget my combat related experiences. Unexpected firework explosions would activate a form of training or trigger some of type of memory of an event.

My goal for this short film is to dive into the psychological arc of someone who is going through PTSD. During my research on this topic I found out that female veterans are under-represented in the mainstream as suffering from PTSD. I choose to make my protagonist a female veteran in an attempt to bring awareness or to make dent in this big issue that effects thousands of veterans.

SHORT SYNOPSIS: NINA (32) pulls into a convenient store to pick up some medication before the Fourth of July fireworks begin. Next to Nina is JESSE (35) who just sits in the passenger seat without saying anything. The sound of the fireworks in the distance seem to make Nina nervous, she closes her eyes and takes a deep breath and she exits the car.

Nina enters the store and waives at the grocery store owner, but her kind gesture is interrupted by kids throwing snap poppers outside. Nina reaches the medicine section but starts to become distracted by the soundscape occurring around her inside the store. She walks towards the refrigerators to grab something to drink.

The sounds inside the store begin to morph into things that one would hear in a combat environment. The snap poppers begin to sound like bullets ricocheting of walls, random firework explosions become IED blast, and a store employee price tagging items becomes someone pressing on a trigger of a riffle.

Nina grabs a bottle of blood orange juice from the refrigerator, its content is dark red like blood. Nina stares at it, her hands start to shake. She closes the refrigerator door and sees a figure in the reflection. Nina turns around and sees JESSE (35) in soldier uniform standing next to an enemy who lies motionless on the ground.

Jesse looks up at Nina, who now wears a soldier's uniform. He does a quick shake down of the dead enemy combatant. While turning him around to identify him he releases pressure of a booby trap grenade. Nina can’t react fast enough to help Jesse so he instead jumps on the grenade and sacrifices himself to save her. The shock wave hits Nina.

TINNITUS. Tina’s hands try to forcefully piece the now shattered glass of orange juice back together inside the store. The STORE OWNER stares at Nina, who obsessively continues piecing the glass black together. Nina looks around like asking for help, but in her mind, she is in the war zone. The owner walks to Nina and gently touches her shoulder. She jumps up ready to defend herself with a piece a glass. Slowly she comes to realization where she is (tinnitus fades out and the sounds of real-world fades in) and in shock she drops the piece of glass.

Nina hurries to her car as the firework flashes keep going off. Sounds of car alarms, fireworks, cart wheels on asphalt. She gets in and as soon as she closes the car door, it gets quiet. Nina covers her face with her hands. A moment passes. She stares at family enjoying the festivities. Nina keeps staring at the family and thinks for a moment, she starts the car and drives away.

The funds raised will be used to help pay for the following expense: location, Camera Gear, wardrobe, and food for the cast and crew.    I will also need funds to help pay for the film processing.   

Your donations will allow me to make the film and tell the story the way it deserves to be told. 

Your support will mean the world to me.
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Leo Escobar 
Los Angeles, CA

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