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Measure of Devotion

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The Civil War was fought in over 10,000 places, in big cities like Atlanta, Georgia to desolate places like Glorieta Pass in the New Mexico territory, but the largest battle to take place during the war, the largest battle to take place on this side of the earth, was fought in and around the small town of Gettysburg, Pennslyvania. Over three days in July of 1863, the 90,000 men of the Union Army of the Potomac clashed with the 75,000 men of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in a desperate struggle. In the end, over 57,000 soldiers were dead, wounded or missing. The battle changed the war. We remember names associated with Gettysburg like Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Robert E. Lee or even Abraham Lincoln for his immortal speech, but we forget the individual stories. In a battle of this scale, there are heroes everywhere and one of the most interesting stories about the battle of Gettysburg isn't about a member of either army, its about a civilian named John Burns.

The former constable of Gettysburg was 69 years old when the armies collided outside of town July 1, 1863. He was a veteran of the War of 1812, rejected from being accepted into the Union army due to his advanced age. However the enemy was now at his front door and he would not stand by and hide in his basemen as most other residents of the town were doing. He grabbed his musket and followed the sounds of battle where he found and fought with the Iron Brigade becoming the only citizen soldier of the battle. He was shot at least three times but survived and became a hero of the Republic. After Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address that November, he met with John Burns, the hero of Gettysburg.

Today he rests in Evergreen Cemetery in Gettysburg where he is honored to have the American flag fly over his grave 24 hours a day and a statue of him stands on the battlefield along with the monuments to the Iron Brigade. Unfortunately, outside Civil War circles, his name is mostly unknown, but John Burns was an American hero who defended his home and his country, a story that I want to tell on film.

Over the past few years, I have been exploring films. Using very basic equipment, I started with web series, worked my way into short films, then into feature films. I am now in the process of finishing my second film, a horror film called “The Barlow House.” I have been learning, experimenting and building a network of film makers who are ready to make an important independent film, one with a goal of submission to the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

I have been told that there is no audience for Civil War films, but I do not believe that. It is true that the few Civil War films that have come out in the past twenty years or so have been very long, overly dramatic, and slow paced. I myself as a history buff have had a tough time watching them, but I look back to 1989 when Glory was released, it kept pace, the acting was phenomenal, and it was a great story. My goal is not to into the soft, overly dramatic epic trap that the more recent Civil War films have been, but make a grittier and realistic look at the Civil War. I want to show the bravery of the men defending our nation, the terror of a entering a battle and the horrors of the places like a Civil War field hospital. I want the audience to feel the whole story, how war impacts the lives of the civilians caught in the middle of the war. This is the story of one man's fight during the battle.

To make this film correctly, we need to raise a minimum of $35,000. The more we raise, the better off we will be. Things we need to do are upgrade our camera and other equipment to get the best possible footage. We need to find a large location to recreate the battle in Herbst Woods at. We need to get extras to shoot a full on battle in woods, which we would need to purchase insurance for, and take care of everyone from port-a-potties to food. We have an amazing actor we would like to attempt to cast in the role who would be absolutely perfect, I feel with as strong as this script is, the right actor would really enjoy this role.  The more we make, the more flexibility we have, the better we can do. Its really amazing the difference one dollar can make.

For me, three years ago I made a plan, first film a movie to go through the whole process and learn. Then, make a second film which would be a horror film to take that knowledge and appeal to a wider audience, then third, make a film about the subject I am most passionate about, the Civil War.   This is the perfect story for me to tell.  Time should never forget the names of heros. 

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Brian Naydol
Antioch, IL

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