Military stories are popular for many reasons; they celebrate heroes, mourn the fallen, and remind us all that war is heart-wrenching.
The military is one of the most detail-oriented, standardized, and training-intensive operations ever to exist, which should mean that films and shows depicting the military should have that same level of precision. The only way to accomplish that is to hire veterans for your set.
By seeking out real vets whenever possible, you'll not only elevate your project, but you could be making major strides to "support the troops."
1. They bring authenticity to the project
Whether they're in front of or behind the camera, veterans will make your military film more realistic. There's nothing worse than watching a film where the star snaps a terrible salute or wears a jacked up uniform. Mistakes like those are not only cringe-worthy for the military audience, but they can also reflect upon actual service members and their experiences.
Technical advisors and producers (like Army Ranger Tyler Grey, featured in the SEAL Team video above) keep shows and films accurate with hard work behind the scenes. Meanwhile, opening auditions to real veterans who transitioned to professional entertainment careers after their service means bringing in actors who already know how to wear the uniform, execute salutes and facing movements, and handle a weapon.
Behind-the-scenes photo from SWAT Season 2 Episode 14 featuring Guest Star (and U.S. Marine) Michael Broderick on-set with a cadre of veterans.
2. They're a bridge to your military audience
The military is a vocal and well-connected community. When a film or TV show gets something wrong, vets don't hold back about it. Hiring a veteran to help write your script could not only elevate the story but also help give insight into the military experience — and the military community will thank you for it when they watch the final cut.
Likewise, when Hollywood gets it right, vets are keen to broadcast it and show up in droves to watch. Groups like Veterans in Media and Entertainment provide professional mentorship for veterans in the entertainment industry — and then they amplify the success stories of their members.
The Vets Seen on TV team for the 2019 Run Ranger Run.
3. It's a great way to actually thank them for their service
Veterans working in the entertainment industry put their creative careers on hold to serve, which means they lost some competitive years to their colleagues who spent that time building networks and fleshing out their resumes in Hollywood.
Vets aren't asking for special treatment — they're just eager for the chance to prove they have what it takes to bring a character or story to life. Don't just give a vet the job; let them audition or interview for it like anyone else. After that, their work will speak for itself, whether they're hired or not.
From portraying a vet or law enforcement on-screen, working stunts with weapons and hand-to-hand combat, or keeping your set in regs, veterans are instinctively prepared for the military movie life because they've already lived that reality.
Plus you know they're going to show up early and squared away.
Featured Image: Navy veteran Jennifer Marshall playing Lt. Col. Bailey in Hawaii Five-O.