My partner and I have been trying to move forward on our documentary on women leaders in the US Army Military Police. We’ve drafted a budget, a plan, a research approach, some crowdfunding strategies, etc.
However, one thing I didn’t realize was how much the current plan relied on gaining access to women who are currently on active duty, as well as gaining access to installations and training programs. This is mostly my fault. When I was a PAO, it was all about how to accommodate requests from media, and how to support this sort of project. Also, being currently on active duty (for a little while longer), I naturally began to make approaches where I am.
Fast forward about a month and three or four DOD media requests later … we became concerned about the lack of response, especially from the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs – Western District, which is where media projects make their approach for support from the military for their various films, etc. Up until this time, I’ve been thinking of myself as a news media person – I write for Task and Purpose and other publications, blog, etc. However, as I found out, OCPA thinks of us as a film project (which of course we are), and has a strict policy of not providing support to any projects that aren’t fully funded (which we are not.)
At first, this was dismaying news. It was discouraging to be dismissed so easily (i.e., We’re not going to provide your show reel, and We’re trying to tell the Army story.) I tried to explain the totality of the project – we’re planning not just the feature documentary, but a lot of ancillary media projects as well. I tried to scale down the request to just go and access the archives at the MP Museum at Fort Leonard Wood. No dice. Finally, I asked if the footage available on DVIDS was acceptable to use in creating some of our promotional material. Finally, I heard that elusive “yes.”
I can stretch a “Yes” a long way. I sat down after that phone call and began sketching out some possibilities for an alternate approach to this project. As if she had read my mind, my partner sent me an email from Peter Carruthers, a filmmaker we had met at the GI Film Festival in May, who is currently working on crowdfunding UNLOAD, a film project regarding PTSD and psychological therapy.
Armed with more determination — and my years as a military police office — I sat right down … and made a PowerPoint presentation. Yes, sketching it out helps me visualize information. I proposed a new course of action, with a few questions/assumptions, based on the new fact of not gaining the access to round out the project until we can come back with a budget.
We shall not be daunted! Just because we are adjusting fire, doesn’t mean we won’t hit the target. In fact, being forced to head off-road is bringing new ideas and new excitement to the table. Stay tuned — there is more to come!