By Stephen K. Peeples
The producers of “Searching for Home: Coming Back from War,” a feature documentary about the trials of military veterans’ assimilation back into society from World War II to Afghanistan, have enlisted Emmy-winning executive producer Anthony Edwards and launched a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign to help complete and release the film.
“It’s an unflinching, emotionally involving, extremely personal look at veterans returning from war and their search for the ‘home’ they left behind, physically, mentally and spiritually,” said Eric Christiansen of Santa Clarita, the film’s director and editor.
His EC Productions’ credits include producing and directing the Emmy award-winning film “Faces in the Fire,” about people who had to deal with the trauma of losing their homes in a major firestorm, and directing the documentary film “Homecoming: A Vietnam Vet’s Journey.”
Once funded, Christiansen said, “Searching for Home: Coming Back from War” will be finished as a feature film with a possible theatrical and festival run, then will be distributed to public television for a three-year run. So far, he’s been able to raise enough to produce a trailer and a long-form preview, and figures he’s about ¼ of the way home. He’s shooting for completion by summer 2013.
“It is truly my calling,” Christiansen said.
As it was for some veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, the transition back to civilian life has been rough for more recent veterans of Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan, especially for those who saw combat and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
According to the U.S. Veterans Association, one in seven veterans returning right now are affected by PTSD to some degree. For some older veterans profiled in the film, the war has continued for 60 years — inside their heads.
That’s why “Searching for Home: Coming Back from War” is a multi-generational tribute with a mission: to help these veterans as much as possible.
“The film’s covenants are ‘The Truth, The Healing and The Hope,’” Christiansen said. “It’s through the personal truth of each soldier’s journey that it will produce awareness, then eventual healing and hope. It is important this film is more than entertainment, that it becomes a vehicle for social change with a focus on healing and hope.”
The “Searching for Home: Coming Back from War” producers are Bruce Spears, a longtime collaborator with Christiansen (they worked together on “Homecoming: A Vietnam Vets Journey,” among many other productions), and Jeremy Crosby, Psy. D., a clinical expert in post-traumatic stress disorder and author of the groundbreaking book “A Mind Frozen in Time: A PTSD Recovery Guide.” Crosby is also serving as the filmmakers’ clinical consultant.
“I think most people do not understand what it means to volunteer, be sent to war and then return home a markedly changed individual,” Spears said. “’Searching for Home: Coming Back from War’ tells the stories of those without a voice, these brave men and women who have sacrificed so much. The time is now to not only honor them, but also to understand their sacrifice and offer compassion and support.”
When Christiansen told his old friend about the film, Edwards quickly volunteered to join the production team as executive producer to help gain greater exposure for the project.
“This story needs to be told. The fact that we are losing more people in the service to suicide than in combat says that there’s something desperately wrong with the way we’re dealing with mental health among our troops,” Edwards said. The Emmy-winning executive producer of HBO’s “Temple Grandin” is best-known for his award-winning role as Dr. Mark Greene on NBC’s hit drama “ER.” He’s also appeared in more than 20 feature films including “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “Revenge of the Nerds,” David Fincher’s “Zodiac” and, of course, “Top Gun.” Edwards returns to series TV this spring in ABC’s new adventure-drama “Zero Hour.”
“I know PTSD has affected many generations of Americans, and I think (with) all the discoveries in relation to the health of the brain, injuries of the brain, both traumatic injury and aftermath injury, we’re in a state of science now where we weren’t 40 years ago,” Edwards said. “There are all kinds of new discoveries, and it’s really important to use science and therapy to help these veterans.”
As executive producer of “Searching for Home: Coming Back from War,” he said, “I’m there to support the film, to help get the name out, obviously to help raise the money. And it’s good to have an objective point of view on the production team, so I will have that for Eric and be there for the team to critique and support as the project moves forward.”
Moving forward is where the Kickstarter campaign comes in to help the producers get the film done and in front of the public. Christiansen launched the campaign on Veteran’s Day, and has until Dec. 19 at 1:01 p.m. (PT) to reach the goal of $190,000 in donations. At this writing, with 22 days left, 43 backers had pledged $25,866.
“Now the public can participate in a meaningful and lasting way to help our veterans,” he said. In return for their donations, supporters at various levels will have their names included in the credits, receive copies of the film, be able to visit with the filmmakers, and/or have lunch with Edwards, among other rewards.
“This film has the potential to reach millions, enable many to heal and provide a catalyst of hope and change,” Edwards said. “Films of passion like this one require everybody to do what is needed at the time, and right now, we need to raise some more money so we can complete it. That’s what we’re doing with our Kickstarter campaign. We just want people to feel connected to it by giving $10 or $100 or $1,000 — whatever they can do.”
“When finished with the public’s help, ‘Searching for Home…’ will chronicle these brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for their country and communities, and give them a voice,” Christiansen said. “It will be through public support that the message of ‘The Truth, The Healing and The Hope’ will be experienced by millions.”
To become a backer of “Searching for Home: Coming Back from War,” click here.