Directors: Garrett Scott and Ian Olds
Topic: Snapshot of a squad of enlisted men as they go through a six-week period of patrolling Falluja, Iraq, and reflecting on their lives and the war.
Financing: Own money, plus initial funding from GreenHouse Pictures for body armor, airplane tickets and tape stock; post-production loan from The Just Media Fund; small post-production grants.
Budget: Made movie originally for around $15,000; total costs with film print estimated at $220,000.
Shooting format: PD150 mini, mini-DV cameras.
Why it stands out: Pic is an honest and restrained look into the psyche of young American soldiers in Iraq as they alternate between the boredom of barracks life and the anxious patrols through the streets of Falluja. Doc captures important historical moment — transitional period before the battle of Falluja in the spring of 2004.
Memorable scenes: Soldiers affectively recount in detail seeing their buddy killed in action. There is no time for a grieving process as squad goes right into another operation.
Distribution/broadcast status: Released theatrically Sept. 23 by Rumur Releasing; still playing in select theaters; will broadcast on Sundance Channel and be available on DVD in March.
On making the film: Scott and Olds collaborated previously on “Cul de Sac: A Suburban War Story.” For “Occupation: Dreamland,” they wanted to be embedded with a unit in Iraq and spend a prolonged period of time with them. “Most journalists and television people get maybe three days to cover a story. They are constantly moving around. I wanted to utilize this new field of access, but do an in-depth documentary study instead of just a quick piece,” says Scott.
The filmmakers approached the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division through a print journalist friend, and learned that the unit wanted its operation in Falluja covered. Permission to go along on a daylight operation was eventually extended to a six-week stay documenting the lives of the soldiers. The filmmakers became more familiar with the soldiers’ circumstances as they struggled to interact with the Iraqis and candidly shared their thoughts on their lives and their views of the war. Says Olds about the experience: “The idea was to be very focused and follow one squad in a kind of unmediated way to see what they do and what they think about what they do.”