How does a group of military veterans-turned-filmmakers create a full-length Hollywood horror-comedy in less than two weeks?
The short answer: Fake blood helps, but not as much as a military work ethic, determination ... and, if available, Danny Trejo.
The long answer comes from "Not a War Story," a full-length documentary set to debut June 30 with a red carpet premiere at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater, located at the Beverly Hills, California, headquarters of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Proceeds from the $100-a-ticket premierego to Gallant Fewand the Warriors Heart Foundation. Plans call for wider distribution of both the documentary and "Range 15" shortly after the premiere, said Jarred "JT" Taylor, one of the film's stars/writers/directors/producers.
Negotiations with distributors are ongoing. Those talks, plus the glamorous premiere location, are evidence of the attention "Range 15" caught in the entertainment community, Taylor said.
"There's a lot of people who are coming to us and offering helping hands," he said. "In Hollywood, there are these pockets of die-hard military supporters, things like that, and they're finally knocking on our door, saying, 'Hey, we want to help.' "
Original plans called for releasing the documentary before "Range 15," said Taylor, a technical sergeant in the Air National Guard, but the team didn't want to ruin any of the film's surprises. It did want to show its audience, many of whom contributed to the movie's creation via an Indiegogo crowd-funding effort that topped $1.1 million, the effort behind the madness.
"It is 100 times better than the movie," Taylor said. "The movie, it was our first one. Adam Sandler didn't win on his first one. We did the best we could, but we were going in blind. ... If we were to make another one now, you'd see a whole different film."
The three-minute trailer offers glimpses at some of the on-set struggles, as well as interviews with veterans in the cast and crew and candid moments with some familiar Hollywood faces. William Shatner shares wisdom while in his make-up chair, and Trejo, during filming of an outdoor battle sequence that included Leroy Petryand Clint Romesha, remarks, "There's a couple of Medal of Honor winners here. Wow."
Despite the frenetic shooting pace and other filming hurdles highlighted by the documentary, the crews from Article 15 Clothing and Ranger Up that produced "Range 15" are continuing work on a sequel. The first draft is written, Taylor said, but "the focus is to get the documentary out."
"We're going to see a whole different kind of audience, get a whole different kind of feedback," he said of the documentary. "When they see how hard this was, how crazy of a task this was, I think they'll appreciate the movie a little bit more."